Monday, October 21, 2013

Military Monday: Careers for Military Spouses (Part 2 of a 3 part series)


The way I see it, military spouse careers can go one of four ways. The military spouse (using the feminine pronoun as statistically more common) can:

1. Give up entirely on working/maintaining a career and stay at home.

2. Work at whatever job presents itself.

3. Accept that to maintain a career, she--as the military spouse--will have to stay in one place while her spouse moves and deploys without her.


4. Find a career that's portable.

Although I don't think that any of the above options is the wrong option, or a bad option, I DO think that the most fulfilling choice for me is number 4. I have tried option 1, 2 and 3 for varying lengths of time. For me, staying at home was great when the kids were small, when we were posted overseas and for the in-between periods on a new post or just before moving. But sooner or later, I need to get out and make some money to add to the family income. For my own sanity, and for the mental health of my family I need to do SOMETHING.

So. What careers are the best for an ever-moving family? What careers can move with you? What can a military spouse focus on when looking toward a career? I put this question out on social media and the results of my completely unofficial poll came back looking like this:

Twelve careers that work (in no particular order):

1. Nursing (RN, LPN, RPN...): Great option. Nurses are needed everywhere. Lots of opportunities in different fields (emergency, long term care, surgical...)

2. Dental Hygienist: Again, fairly easy to find work in this area

3. Dental Assistant: Ditto.

4.  Teacher: Often lose seniority, but I know many teachers who have been able to work their way back into the field with each move.

5. Home sales: Lots of options, although difficult to start a new customer base each time you move, it can be done. I have one military spouse friend in the UK who has built her Pampered Chef empire high enough that she gets a free trip almost every year.

6. Tradesperson: Construction, electrician, plumbing...although stereotypically male dominated professions, and military spouses are stereotypically female, don't knock these possibilities. These are good paying options, and are in demand just about everywhere.

7. Transcriptionist (medical/legal): These jobs can be done remotely via internet/phone.

8. Personal Support Worker (PSW): Always needed. Just check your classifieds and you'll see what I mean.

9. Graphic Design: Especially for the web.

10. Any other internet based work...Blogging, content writing, social media, editing, many options here.

11. Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist: As a qualified physio, I can highly recommend this as a portable career. I have never wanted for a job. I actually wait until I'm good and ready before I hand out resumes at a new post, because there is always a position waiting to be filled.

12. Author: Again, I can vouch for this one...although the pay isn't great until you get a few published novels under your belt!

Thoughts? Did I miss any? Do you have a career that's portable that I haven't mentioned?

As you can see, the list is very skewed toward the medical side of things. Again, just check your classified ads to see how badly medical professionals are needed where you live! Sure the reset button is ever-present, with new seniority/pay/vacation with each move, but the jobs are usually there. And if you can get hooked up with a national health care company you may even be able to keep some of those benefits.

You'll also note, I haven't included the gate-keeper professions: Doctor, Dentist, Lawyer, Bank CEO. Please don't think that this is because I don't believe military spouses can't do these professions. They can. And if you want to be a doctor, you should go for it. It's just these are professions which often require a long educational and interpersonal commitment and are not easily portable as a result.

On that note, the next problem a military spouse that moves every two to three years would encounter is how can she get the education to live out one of these careers?

I'll be talking about careers, education, and military spouse assistance programs in my next Military Monday post. If you have anything to add, feel free to connect to me via the comments block below, or via my Facebook page. And don't forget to like my page while you are there!



  1. Interesting. Most military spouse teachers and nurses I know have a very hard time finding work in their new postings, and most teachers I now that move often with the military gave up finding employment as teachers as transfering certification between provinces is complex, nurses as well.
    The other problem with nursing is that it is a shift work heavy field and with a military spouse if you move away from your family or close friends findhing overnight childcare can rule that out. Same with social work, which is where was. The shift work wasn't going to work with my kids while hubby was away, so I ended up staying home with them full time.
    I am currently a military spouse student, studying Military Psychology. There's always a base mental health at every posting so I am hoping it is portable :).
    Good luck with your series!

  2. True, the nursing and teaching are both complicated to port, but it's possible. I have one teacher friend who has had a job in several provinces and in the UK. Another who has had an incredibly hard time moving from one school board to another within Ontario! I also agree that nursing and shiftwork go hand in hand. The profession is portable in that it moves easily, but not for everyone.

    Congrats on your new career endeavor! I think there will be an ever increasing need for military psychology experts with the gradual improvement in PTSD and other awareness. How is studying going with postings? Is it a masters you are taking? Good luck!



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