Spouses of U.S. military service members tend to move often and in some cases may move overseas because their husbands or wives are stationed outside the United States. Moving overseas can be a big challenge for military families. Spouses may choose not to work overseas or may wonder what they will do away from home.
Being stationed outside the country can provide some great opportunities for education, though. Spouses of service members can use their time away from the United States to train for an exciting new career or can update their skills in order to tackle a new job overseas.
Colleges for Military Spouses: Where and What to Study
Being posted overseas means opportunities to explore new cultures. It can also be a great time to study and expand your education. This will allow you to be ready for a new career either overseas or when you return home.
Studying overseas has never been easier. Online accredited colleges give you the advantages of studying at home – even when you are in another country. When you study through an online accredited college, you enjoy these additional perks:
- You can study at your own pace
- You enjoy interactive lessons and assistance from your teachers and instructors
- You can study a wide array of subjects at a variety of levels – including diploma programs and associate programs
- You can secure a college education from a U.S. school
- You can study in English
- Your college degree will be recognized in the United States and abroad
- You can study from the comfort of your temporary home at your military installation
For many military spouses, attending an online program from a recognized U.S. college makes the most sense because there are no worries about language and the education can be invaluable even after returning home.
Which degree program you take will depend on your career goals and dreams. However, there are a few programs that offer solid career opportunities and plenty of job flexibility:
Business. Getting a Bachelor, Diploma, or Associate Degree in Business from Vista College paves the way for a number of jobs in business management. This is a very flexible educational background that can be used in a variety of fields. You can seek work for someone else or open your own business.
Medical Office Assistant. If you are interested in helping health care professionals and patients but don’t want to attend medical school for years, a Medical Office Specialist Associate’s Degree lets you help busy clinics and hospitals. Through an online program, you’ll learn how to take medical histories, vital stats, and help with administrative tasks at hospitals or clinics.
Information Technology. Diplomas or Associate programs pave the way for exciting careers with computer hardware and software. An IT education in network administration can help you seek jobs in technical support, computer network management, and other fields.
Paralegal. If you like the idea of working on legal cases, a Paralegal Associate Degree (AAS) can help you seek work as a paralegal. Paralegals assist attorneys with research, prepare legal briefs, and perform other work.
Criminal Justice. If you want to make a difference in the world, an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice program can help you learn about law enforcement, criminal law, and the justice system.
Online education for military spouses is a great option because it can give you something to do while overseas and can prepare you for a great career. Even if your spouse is stationed somewhere where you do not know the language or where you cannot easily attend college, online degrees and colleges for military spouses help you pursue your education and career goals.
Finding Military Spouse Jobs
Military spouses face some additional challenges when job hunting. Military families sometimes move often, making it difficult to create a job history. In addition, many military spouses make career sacrifices, deciding to offer support to their partners rather than pursuing their own dreams.
In some cases, spouses make the difficult decision to stay behind at home while their spouses are deployed because they want to pursue their own careers. Some spouses decide to travel with their military partners overseas and look for local jobs. Fortunately, there are military spouse jobs that offer some flexibility and still allow spouses to pursue their careers while traveling with their husbands and wives.
The current trend towards online and telecommuting jobs as well as flexible work arrangements is a major benefit for military families. Online military spouse jobs let military spouses pursue interesting, engaging work no matter where they are. For example, military spouses can pursue jobs as:
- Online tech support professionals. These professionals offer technical support for IT issues over chat functions, email, and other online platforms. An Information Technology Diploma or Associate program can help job seekers show employers they have the skills to offer technical support.
- Online legal researchers and assistants. Some attorneys are willing to hire paralegals and legal researchers who work remotely. This job involves preparing and submitting documents or researching cases online. Other law firms hire legal writers to prepare their websites, blogs, and social media. Some law firms want to see a Paralegal Associate Degree (AAS) or other legal education when hiring.
- Online business writers. Businesses writers prepare articles, newsletters, white papers, annual reports, and the many other written materials businesses need. Some businesses hire writers directly. Job seekers can also be hired by marketing companies or service providers that offer writing services to companies. A Business Diploma or Degree can show businesses that you have the professional knowledge to create business documents.
- Online technical writers. Technical writers create manuals, instruction booklets, and other materials for engineers and companies. They take complex technical information and make it accessible.
Other online jobs are also available in a variety of fields. Anywhere where an Internet connection is possible, work is available – and this type of flexible work-from-home arrangement is growing. According to Global Workplace Analytics, telecommuting or work-from-home arrangements have grown 80 percent since 2005, with new opportunities being created all the time.
The military is very supportive of spouses looking for portable jobs. In fact, the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program offers financial assistance of up to $4,000 for qualified military spouses pursuing education in portable career areas.
In addition to online, portable, and flexible jobs, military spouses can launch their own businesses. Thanks to online fulfillment services that manufacture products and take care of shopping and order-taking, it is possible to launch a business from anywhere in the world and have other companies take care of most of the practical work involved in making and shipping a product.
Creating a business does not have to rely on creating a product, either. Some military spouses offer child care services or offer English as a second language classes where they are stationed. Entrepreneurs can launch their own businesses without any formal training, but a Bachelor, Diploma or Associate Degree in Business gives the background needed to succeed.
Some military spouses choose to work traditional jobs overseas where their partners are posted. In many countries, Diplomas and education from American colleges are prized, so completing online courses and programs from a U.S.-based school can offer a flexible educational background that can translate across borders.
When looking for work overseas, it is important to find out about local laws and the Status of Forces Agreement between the country and the United States; you may require visas or other paperwork to get a traditional job in another country. If you are not eligible to work where your husband or wife is posted, you may be able to secure employment on the military installation where your family is stationed. However, keep in mind that competition for these jobs can be fierce because there are only a limited number of jobs available. If you would like more information, consult with the employment readiness program manager at your military installation.
Some military spouses decide to wait until returning home to launch their careers. If this is the case for you, you may face gaps in your employment. If you choose not to work while your husband or wife is stationed overseas, you might take on part-time or volunteer work to keep your skills fresh and to show employers that you are a dedicated worker.
Another option is to pursue online learning to hone your job-related skills and even to virtually meet professors and instructors in your field. When you’re ready to return home, you’ll have relevant skills, recent training, and potential support from your instructors or college when you start sending out resumes.
Paying for It All
The U.S. military recognizes the support that spouses offer to service members and acknowledges the sacrifices that military families make. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Department have a number of resources and programs to help you if you are stationed overseas because your spouse is part of the military.
You might be eligible for tuition discounts, VA school benefits, and other programs and benefits, including:
- The Overseas Spouse Education Assistance Program (OSEAP). OSEAP offers eligible Army spouses need-based financial assistance for school. Spouses must be living at an Overseas Command with their active duty soldier spouse to qualify.
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill®. Under this program, service personnel can transfer their unused GI Bill® benefits to their spouses or children. Up to 36 months or whatever remains of military tuition assistance can be transferred over for someone enrolled in benefits under the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS).
- The Spouse and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA). The DEA from the VA allows eligible dependents of veterans to secure a maximum of 45 months’ worth of education benefits. You can learn more about the program through the Military Education
- Department of Defense (DoD) grants. A number of grants of about $1,500 are available to the children and spouses of active-duty personnel.
- VA education benefits. For spouses who have been widowed or who have had a husband or wife seriously injured or lost in military service, there are some VA benefits available to assist with education and schooling. It is important to apply to these within the time limits.
- Traditional funding for civilians. All spouses of military service personnel also qualify for the same scholarships, grants, and financial assistance available to civilians. It makes sense to explore all financial aid options, not just those available through the military.
To find out more about the programs available to help you pay for your education, visit the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Web page, the VA Web page for educational benefits, and the Department of Defense Web page. You can also create a MyCAA account to apply for benefits.
Another option is to work with a military-friendly college, such as Vista College. Military-friendly schools may offer additional benefits, such as their own scholarships and tuition discounts for qualified military spouses. These schools usually have the resources to help you find and apply for DoD, VA, and other military benefits to make your schooling more affordable.
Military-friendly colleges also tend to have resources and specialty education for military spouses, recognizing that these students may require different learning environments. For example, many of these schools offer online classes for military spouses stationed overseas with their families.
Tips to Get Started
There are opportunities and colleges for military spouses. If you are serious about launching your career, improving your job prospects, or landing a job, however, you do face a few additional challenges. If you are stationed overseas, there are a few things you can do to get started:
- Make a list of your career, personal, and educational goals. What would make you happy? What are your interests? What sort of jobs would you enjoy? What would you enjoy studying? Explore all your options.
- Know that is it possible. There are resources and programs for education for military spouses, and many people who have been stationed overseas have been able to balance their families and exciting career options. Stay positive; there are jobs and educational opportunities available for you.
- Make use of the resources the military offers. Speak to others who have studied overseas or have gotten jobs overseas. Find out what is possible and how they achieved their own goals. Visit the employment readiness office or professional at your military installation to find out what job options and education options are open to you.
- See your time overseas as an opportunity. Today, you can pursue online jobs, flexible jobs, or an education overseas. Even if you cannot pursue your dream job at the military installation where you are living, you can focus on improving your education and skills so that you are ready for the next stage of your career when you return home or head somewhere where you can take a job.
- Stay flexible. Consider educational and career options you may not have considered before. If you want to pursue a career path that requires a professional degree you cannot secure overseas, consider taking another Degree or Diploma course now or pursuing temporary work or volunteer opportunities. You never know when a temporary job will offer valuable educational opportunities, networking opportunities, or an exciting new career path.
Training for military spouse jobs or traditional jobs starts with a solid educational foundation. Being overseas gives you time to potentially pursue an exciting new educational opportunity with online learning tools. You can also use your time overseas to volunteer or to find work opportunities that might develop into a new passion.
¹GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.