When I served in the military I never put thought into the lives of military family members, the careers they were giving up and the trials they went through. Now, as I prepare to leave a job on Capitol Hill, I find myself thinking about nothing else!
I met my Marine when I was a TV news anchor in Idaho. When he received orders, I did my best to keep my journalist career going but it was evident after the first year of our marriage that we were going to have to choose one career over the other. We chose his.
Military spouses across the globe probably know what a hard decision that was and yet they make it anyway. Perhaps it’s for love, or perhaps it’s the right decision financially, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to walk away from a career you love. I’m now walking away from my second one in four years.
But there’s good news!
Thanks to technology, we now have options. There are several career paths military spouses can take and many of them can move with you to your spouse’s next duty station. Because the truth is, being a broadcast a journalist and signing a TV contract isn’t very conducive to a military lifestyle. And while opening a bakery or becoming certified to be a childcare provider aren’t bad options, they’re not for everyone.
Civilian jobs opportunities with the government
A friend of mine consistently works as a GS employee in public affairs each time her husband receives orders and they have to move. I suspect she gets most of her jobs through USA Jobs, but as I discovered after arriving at the Fort Meade, Maryland, area, many bases have support systems for spouses who are job hunting. They’ll look at your resume and help you apply for jobs. After moving to Fort Meade, I also discovered the “spouse hiring preference.” Congress recently made a change that removed the “two-year” stipulation so there’s no time limit to use it, but you can still only use it once for each PCS.
Communications Director, Digital Marketing and Graphic Design
If you visit Indeed.com or FlexJobs.com, it will be apparent very quickly how many companies are hiring communications directors, social media directors and graphic designers. Many of these do require bachelors degrees, but not always and the good news is that some of them are available remotely.
Realtor, Beautician and more
If Fort Meade spouses are any indication, this is a popular one. Congress is trying to make it easier for military spouses to re-certify their state licenses for each move and that could include CNAs, realtors, mechanics, beauticians and more. The great thing about these careers, aside from needing to re-certify in each state, is that these are skills that are needed anywhere in the U.S., and sometimes overseas. I have an old neighbor who made such a great living as a realtor, she and her husband ended up retiring thanks to her salary.
Author or freelance writer
As a former journalist, I have a love for the written word. I have published two books and have three more in the works. While this requires a great deal of time and patience, if you love to write, this is a good job to pursue. You can follow several online blogs and podcasts to get tips on how to apply for freelance writing jobs or join several Facebook groups that educate and inspire authors to become published novelists. And thanks to CreateSpace and KDP, you can self-publish and market your own books and short stories. Head over to Publisher’s Weekly and read the articles about authors who made it in self-publishing.
Fitness coach or fitness trainer at a gym
I’m including this one because I have a love for health and fitness and I used to work as a fitness coach myself on the side. I know how easy it is to learn about health and fitness from home and how easy it is to build a business by inspiring others to do the same. In fact, you probably have several friends on Facebook who are coaches. Some of these coaches, depending on their efforts, willingness and patience, are making six figures a year. I signed up because I wanted to be super fit before my husband came home from a two-year overseas unaccompanied tour. I’m now looking at it as a way to grow a business at home and so I can become certified to teach classes in my community.
Direct sales and network marketing
In the same line as fitness coaching, a lot of spouses are turning to direct sales. You probably have friends selling Stella & Dot, Rodan & Fields, Beach Body, essential oils, LuLaRoe and others. While I would be cautious of any MLM and I suggest researching the company first, I have many friends who are happy doing this part-time from home. Of course, you have to love sales. I couldn’t find any proof of the popular statistic “86 percent of women who make more than $100,00 do it through direct sales,” but Forbes did say that if you work 10 hours a week from home, the average income is about $3,000. That’s not much so it would appear to make a real income from this, you have to go all in and run it like a full-time business. Luckily, it rarely requires much financial commitment.
I’ve been reading the income reports of several bloggers in a few mommy groups I belong to and I’m blown away at the amount of money some moms are making on their blogs. A lot of their income comes from affiliate sources, aka ads from Amazon and BlueHost. They are doing a great job of promoting companies and the companies are paying them in return. According to Forbes, if you want to be really successful at this, attend a BlogHer event. Apparently, some hobby bloggers are making some serious money, say $5,000 a month, but it’s because they’ve put in time and effort and are really passionate about the topic they’re blogging about.
None of these jobs are going to qualify for a “get rich quick” article and they’re not meant to. In general, you either have to put in the time to get an education, or you have to put in the time to run your business at home as a full-time business. If you’re looking to make the most money, I highly recommend becoming an engineer or a computer information systems manager.
If you’re not sure what you want to do and you’re looking for some ideas, I would suggest the “Side Hustle” podcast, which highlights real people who made a good income from an idea they came up with. And if you found a great job that works with the military lifestyle, leave it in the comments for the rest of us to check out.