There are many benefits to being in a military family. You have an instant network of supportive, like-minded community, you truly come to know and value your spouse and family in a way that most civilian families don’t, and you can take immense pride in your soldier.
There are challenges, however, and that comes as no surprise. One of the biggest challenges for any military spouse is the question of employment. Should you work? If so, where? How will you ever grow your career if you’re changing locations every 2-3 years? Will companies even hire you if they know you’re attached to the military? Is it worth the effort?
The great news is that there are tons of resources and opportunities available for military spouses now, thanks to the Internet. Not only is it easier to research your career options, but entrepreneurship much more inviting, and traditional companies have a better understanding of the real value that military spouses bring. There’s never been a better time to be a working military spouse.
Here are four main avenues you can follow when you’re looking for work from home as a military spouse.
Every year Victoria Media, a publisher that puts out magazines like Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur, publishes a list of companies that actively hire military spouses and work to transfer these employees to new positions when their military families relocate. These are major national and regional companies doing at least $100 million in annual revenues, which means there’s a better chance of being able to transfer even when you’re moving all around the country. The 2016 list is available here.
There are countless other companies that also work with military spouses — smaller businesses and even online retailers. And finding work at a major national chain could also pave the way toward being able to work anywhere, even if that company doesn’t specifically seek out military spouses.
Companies are moving more and more of their work to telecommuting positions. The major benefit of telecommuting for military spouses is the ability to do the work anywhere that there’s an Internet connection. You may be restricted to working specific hours (which may or may not be based on your particular timezone), but the location flexibility means your chief concern when it’s time to relocate is just getting your new workspace set up, rather than starting the job search from scratch. A few companies that have military spouse hiring programs:
There are also opportunities to work from home in an “offline” capacity that’s task-oriented and not necessarily contingent on having an internet connection. One well-known business that operates this way is R. Riveter, a handbag company that rose in popularity when it appeared on Shark Tank. R. Riveter outsources much of its labor to military spouses. Most of these tasks involve cutting fabric and working on other physical elements of handbags, and there are no quotas to fill so any contractor can work as much or as little as their schedule permits.
Working for Yourself Online
One way to skip the awkward “I’ve only been here for 18 months and now I’m leaving” conversation with your boss… is to become your own boss! While the idea of entrepreneurship might seem uninteresting or even intimidating, working for yourself online is an ideal job for a military spouse. You’re able to control your workload and (to a large extent) your income, as well as your schedule. And because it’s online, you can do it from anywhere.
Most online entrepreneurial gigs will be feasible for military spouses. This includes everything from being a freelance writer, transcriptionist, virtual assistant, proofreader, social media manager, blogger, and other content-oriented roles to more interaction-focused careers like online tutoring, coaching, or consulting. Have a great idea for an app? That’s another way to start working for yourself, and you can take the business anywhere you go.
Working for Yourself Offline
If you’re interested in being your own “company of one” but you don’t want to take your services online, you can also develop new business wherever you move. Being plugged into a military community means easy access to a new social network, which can give you a leg up on the marketing you’d need to do and events you’d want to attend.
There’s no limit to what you can do as an offline business. Cottage industries like baking, catering, and creating bath and body products are relatively easy to get off the ground and can be deeply satisfying if you enjoy working with the senses. As an artist, crafter, or photographer, you can transport your work anywhere and start getting your services known in the community. Pet sitting, in-home daycare, cleaning houses, and even selling books and other second-hand items are all income streams that are extremely flexible and require less ramp-up time than other forms of self-employment. Direct selling can also be a great opportunity.
All It Takes Is Some Effort
If you’re a military spouse and you’re committed to the idea of staying in the workforce or otherwise generating your own income, there’s a broad horizon of options for you. As you think about what direction is best for you, you’ll need to take into account your own strengths and preferences, as well as the (perceived) likely career trajectory of your spouse. For example, if you anticipate moving to locations that are rural, remote, or even overseas, that’s a significant factor to take into account for your own career planning. Figure out what works best for you, in your personal circumstances, and go from there!