Did you know that military spouses represent some of the most employable, desirable and diverse job candidates our country has to offer? According to The Council of Economic Advisers, there are an estimated 690,000 military spouses. Based on the graph shown, military spouses have more education than civilian spouses, yet have an average 12% unemployment rate versus the national average that ranges between 4-5%. Many times, this is due to the challenges of constantly relocating and the recreation of a professional network near the servicemember’s new duty station.
In 2018, I found myself facing the same challenge. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree, I found landing a job with competitive pay was extremely difficult. Majority of employers were contacting me about customer service positions paying 15.00 hourly. Could my lack of job stability due to my husband’s career really prevent me from getting the job and pay I deserve? Unfortunately, I found the answer to that question to be yes. Although I have been advised on methods for hiding gaps in my resume, or how to use volunteer work as a career-builder, there is no practical way on how to cobble together a career as a military spouse. However, based on my research, it seems that I am not alone.
In a workshop conducted by the National Research Council (US) Center for Education, Peter Capelli argued the primary issue with the U.S. job market wasn’t based on the lack of basic, or advanced, skills but a mismatch between the supply and demand for certain skills. As this variable continues to incline among civilians worldwide, military spouses are beginning to explore the evolving need to fill high demand careers that offer portability. Some portable careers such as Cybersecurity, Event Planning and Management, Medical Billing and Coding, Paralegal, and Pharmacy Technician are a few of many on-the-go careers that require specified education or licenses which can be obtained through completing courses through programs like Hiring Our Heroes. Establishing a career that offers mobility and stability are essential to the financial contribution and education goals for many military spouses.
Fortunately, there are ample of resources available to spouses to help transition to those portable career fields, many of which are either no cost or low cost. Some spouses have found their personal version of success using available resources offered through the military, while others have little to no knowledge of these resources available. The following are a few of many resources available:
- MySECO: Can assist with financial assistance resources and career development opportunities
- MCAA Scholarship: Provides up to $4,000 to military spouses pursing a license, certification or associate degree in a portable career field and occupation.
- Post-9/11 GI Bill: Based on the veterans’ benefits, military spouses can sometime take advantage of these benefits which grant an allotted amount toward educational advancement. Depending on the length of service, the bill covers between 40%-100% of tuition, housing, books, and in certain situations, relocation. The benefits are good for 36 months of education.
In efforts to ensure career goals are obtained for both civilians and military spouses alike, setting guidelines will help. Here are a few that I follow: 1. Assess and reassess; 2. Be flexible to different pathways; and 3. Be persistent in obtaining your goals.
I hope this article has been helpful for others that are searching for their next careers. To discuss this issue further, please contact me at CAnderson@A-GAssociates.com or Chris Gonzalez at CGonzalez@A-GAssociates.com.