Finding a job that moves with you is tantamount to reaching the brass ring of military spouse employment. After talking to dozens of spouses in various fields, we know that this is what everyone wants: real jobs that become real careers that make real money.
Not many spouses are interested in a gig that’s "fine for right now." With your wisdom and the newest data on fields experiencing the most growth this year, we’ve compiled a list of professions that are actually portable – and that you’d actually want to do.
Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.
The following professions are all brass ring worthy: a job you can start where you are, develop into a career, and build into something you can take with you, no matter where you’re stationed next.
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapists work with patients to overcome mental and social disabilities—especially with kids on the autism spectrum. The Center for Disease Control indicates that 1 in 88 children in the United States have received a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. That figure applies to military kids, too.
ABA therapists can work full or part-time in K-12 schools, doctor’s offices, and therapy centers. The job requires formal education in psychology, behavior analysis or a related field of study, and compensation runs between $23,200-$51,660 annually. ABA Therapists are certified, but the boards also certify behavioral therapy assistants. For more information on ABA certification, please look here.
Computer Support Specialist
You can’t throw a stone in today’s business world without hitting a computer support specialist. Luckily for you, there are jobs opening everywhere because every sector of the market needs them.
The projected growth for this job field by 2018 is supposed to be 78,000 jobs ... that’s a lot of new jobs. So if you’re decent with computers (you know who you are), this could be a great career path for you.
Computer support specialists are specially trained and usually work in IT departments in all kinds of offices. Because everyone has an IT department these days, you have a lot of flexibility about what industry you’ll work in. Car dealers, colleges, yogurt companies, and large fitness conglomerates all rely on inside IT help. So if you want a job with a company you love, pursuing a job in IT could actually mean combining your skills and your passions. Expect the job to pay somewhere between $26,600 - $55,500.
If you have an eye for design or know your way around Photoshop, consider a career as a graphic designer. This is a field where you can absolutely get hired without formal training, but even an associate’s degree in graphic design can be an added boon in your job search (and is something you can get with MyCAA).
Most entry-level graphic designer jobs pay $25,000-$57,000. While you’ll start out as a junior designer or an associate, you can work your way through the ranks to senior designer – and then you can start thinking about bringing in $83,000 a year.
Healthcare -- Especially for the Elderly
The need for registered nurses and Healthcare employment is expected to grow. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, there is also opportunity in healthcare on the business side of the house.
With a growing elderly base, training for specialized elderly care positions will only make you more covetable in the job market. Jobs as a home health aide or ambulatory therapist are in high demand, and while many of these jobs require Master’s level training, becoming a home caregiver is something you can do without much formal experience.
Many home care organization offer on the job training, an enjoyable workday (if you like working with the elderly, of course), and compensation beginning in the low 20’s and going as high as the mid 40’s. There are usually military retirees near bases, and no one would be more better suited to understand their lives and needs than an eager, helpful military spouse.
Marriage and Family Therapist
The Bureau of Labor projects that the need for marriage and family therapists will rise 29.8 percent in the coming years. The divorce rate is not climbing that fast; it is just that it is becoming more and more common for people to seek help from a therapist when their marriage gets rocky.
This shortage is particularly great when it comes to military families living in less urban settings. A master’s degree and state certification is usually necessary for this job, but if you have it, you can expect to earn around $47,000 a year.
Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technicians
There is a Rite Aid on every corner. A CVS in every strip mall. The opportunity for employment is there. Although it takes about six years to become a pharmacist (salary over $100K), most of the training a pharmacy tech (salary $28K) gets is on the job.
Demand for pharmacists and pharmacy techs is expected to increase with the elderly population. Many schools, including the University of Florida, now offer reputable pharmacy school programs online. But if a Master’s degree isn’t in the cards for you, don’t worry: pharmacy techs are in high demand. The field is growing more than 32% (much faster than average) and nothing more than a high school diploma is required to get in on the ground level.
Many states require pharmacy techs to complete an internship program before looking for work in stores. California also offers up a more stringent level of requirements: either completion of an Associate’s in Pharmacy Technology or certification by the state board via test. The certification is good news: because California is willing to grant certification to those who pass the test, if you’re transferring to California from a pharmacy out of state without an Associate’s degree, you can still count on a job in your future.
Programmers are much more than just IT gurus who are awesome at a specific computer language, they’re creative thinkers and collaborators who work just as well in a team as they do individually.
Many of our readers who have pursued jobs in programming are quick to add that these jobs are not only good for military spouses, they can frequently be done remotely: so once you get your feet wet at the company, you might be able to move your job with you the next time you PCS.
Social Worker With Military Credential
The National Association of Social Workers has launched a new credential for established social workers: Social Work for Veterans and Military Families.
Although social workers require extensive education (a Master’s degree is a given) and state certification, this specialized area is one that military spouses are best suited to capitalize on. With personal experience and on-the-ground training as a military spouse, you can take the certification to the next level. In an interview with former Military.com spouse director Jacey Eckart, Executive Director Betsy Clark said that a social worker who is also a military spouse and earns this credential would be ahead of the game and “in a position to be in a supervisory position over other social workers.” Licensed social workers can expect to earn anywhere from $40,000 - $76,000.
Special Education Teacher or Aide
Your original plan to be a teacher had you imagining yourself in front of a group of charming fourth graders all working on their reports about Jamestown and Williamsburg. According to our readers, getting those jobs often requires that you spend a few years in the school system -- which is hard to do when you move every other year.
What if you break out of that crayon box and imagine yourself as a Special Ed teacher or a classroom assistant instead? The National Education Association says there is a greater need for special education teachers than for any other type of teacher. This requires some specialized training and the drive to make a difference in the world, but with compensation in the mid-$40’s, budgeting for that training won’t be such a challenge. Consider work as a special education paraprofessional while you prepare yourself for certification: you won’t be raking it in, but you’ll be gaining professional experience in a school district that will help open you up for further opportunities once you’re ready to apply.
One thing we consistently hear from our readers is nervousness related to the specific licensing and state certification required by many jobs -- especially those in teaching, healthcare, and social work -- require state-specific licensing and certification. We know what an issue (and hair-pulling stress) that can be.
Don’t let certification be a stumbling block for you. We’ve taken to heart the advice that many of our readers have given: despite the challenges posed state-by-state, with careful and proactive planning, these fields can open up a wealth of rewarding opportunities wherever you are.
These fields are all strong choices in today’s market and with the demands of the military life, they’re viable career fields for you. With competitive salaries, exciting opportunities, they will not only open you up to a profession that travels with you, but, more importantly, to a great career.
Looking for more job tips?
Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have military news, updates and job resources delivered directly to your inbox.