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Career Planning for the Military Spouse

Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton

If you're a military spouse (or soon to be a military spouse) then by now you're probably pretty used to life being somewhat...unpredictable. Add to that the difficulty of building a career while you're constantly on the move and suddenly it might feel like you have no control over your own life.

Luckily, changes in the internet and technology have made it easier to grow a career outside of an office building. Now companies are offering more ways to work remotely and there are even more opportunities to go out on your own. While there's no question that building a career when you're married to the military is a challenge, there are things you can do about it. So let's talk about how you can grow your own career while you still support your spouse.

Talk to Your Company About Working Remotely

If you already have a job that you love and don't want to leave it, don't assume you have to. More and more companies are becoming flexible with flex-time and even work from home options. That means working remotely could be in the cards for you. Just be sure to give your employer enough lead time to do what's necessary to prepare for the change and make sure to show that you'll continue adding value even when you're not in the building.

If you've already tried this and there's no way your company will go for it, consider looking for a new job that will allow remote work now. It's not easy to juggle a job search with all the other tasks that go into moving away, but it might make the transition easier if you already have an opportunity nailed down - or perhaps already begun.

Start a Freelance Career

Do you have stellar writing skills? How about a special talent for crafts? A penchant for social media and proven ability to grow a company's online presence? You can turn your hobbies into your income by developing a blog, a job as a freelance writer, your own Etsy page or website, or your own consulting business. Soon you could find that you have a career you love that is as flexible as your life is unpredictable.

One thing to note is that going out on your own and actually earning enough to live off of can take months or years to accomplish. Before you made the leap to freelance, you'd probably want to get your finances in order and pay off credit card debt and any other kind of debt. Freelancing might not be your employment solution during the next PCS, but it is something that you should start building now. In a few years it might just be your full-time job, and in the meantime you're building skills, potentially earning extra income, and focusing on yourself, even if just for a few hours a day after work.

Work for the Government

What institution or company in the US could possibly understand your situation more than the US government itself? Landing a job within the government, while not easy to do, can be a great way to build your career while moving frequently for your spouse. You could try for an opportunity that allows you to work in other locations, or you could work as a civilian at your next military installation. Check out for a listing of current openings.

Utilize Resources Available Just for You

Finally, don't forget to utilize the resources that are out there just for you. While you have a specific set of career challenges, there are many government sponsored and nonprofit programs to help you navigate these challenges. For example, has their very own military spouse job search tool. Plus some states governments have websites dedicated to helping you optimize your education and career, like this one from Minnesota. And don't forget about blogs from those who've been there! Read blogs like this one for a listing of resources to help you and this one to find out what other benefits might be available.

When you fell in love and took the leap into marrying into the military, you probably knew there were plenty of challenges waiting for you. But that doesn't mean you should be left alone in those challenges! Follow these steps so you can find ways to develop the career of your dreams while still supporting your spouse in his or her military career dreams. With a little creativity and a lot of research, it can be done!

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Shannon McNay is the Community and Customer Support Manager at ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. Shannon focuses her writing on the ways our lives are impacted by our finances and vice versa - including finances in your relationship, finances in your career, and how to overcome the mental barriers to paying off debt. You can follow @ReadyForZero and @shannonmcnay on Twitter. 

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