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Military Life 101

Consider Portable Careers

How many times have you relocated? How many jobs have you held in the past 10 years? Do these questions sound familiar? I bet they do. Military spouses face unique challenges when it comes to their professional careers. Many have made put their active duty spouse's career before their own. However, technology is creating opportunities for military spouses to establish careers that travel with them.

Portable careers are a growing trend among military spouses. Frequent relocations that once caused career havoc for spouses can now involve little or no career upheaval. Military spouses can now use their talents, skills and abilities to launch viable online companies.

Fast dialup connections and high-speed Internet access let spouses conduct business online in real time on the Web from anywhere in the world. From Alaska to Japan, from New York to Florida, spouses can sell products and services to clients around the globe.

Why is this way of working so appealing to military spouses? Spouses look forward to those three little words every three to four years: "Honey, we're relocating." In times past this meant quitting a job and starting over. Portable careers, as the name suggests, let spouses take their business and their clients with them.

Portable careers are especially appealing to spouses who are self-disciplined, enjoy working alone and are comfortable using technology.

The types of careers a spouse can start include freelance writing, web design, graphics illustration, programming, event planning, secretarial support, virtual assistance, translation, transcription, information research and retrieval, photography, interviewing and the list goes on.

The most appealing aspect of starting an online business is the minimal startup cost. Question: Do you possess the following?

  • Desktop or laptop computer

  • Printer

  • Cell phone with voice mail

  • Internet access

  • A personal email account

  • Productivity software (Microsoft Office, Microsoft Works Suite, WordPerfect)

  • Microsoft Outlook Express

  • Space to set up an office

  • A moneymaking hobby or marketable skill/talent
If you answered, "yes" to the majority of those questions, you probably have about 85 percent of what you need to start an online business.

There are some important facts to keep in mind when starting any type of business: Be sure to check your local laws and if you are starting a business from government quarters, be sure to check with your base housing office and any other appropriate offices.

Remember, the next time your spouse announces those three little words, "Honey, we're relocating," you can simply pack your career and go.

About the writer: Victoria Parham is a military spouse and the president and chief technology officer for, a forerunner in the virtual support services industry, and an advocate of portable careers for trailing spouses and family members. Its web-based Virtual Business Owners Training Program, the first virtual careers program for Department of Defense and Military ID cardholders, is available online.

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