Types of Jobs Available to Military Spouses (On and Off Base)

“Oh my gosh, I have to find a job!” How many times have you said that…? …Lost count yet? Well hopefully this article will help you understand the different types of positions you can apply for.

General Schedule (GS) Positions

General Schedule(GS) position jobs allow you to have many of the benefits that active duty members have, minus the wonderfulness of always being on call and having mandatory deployments. Such ashame! You can accrue leave, get a retirement plan, and have the opportunity to get promoted up the pay grades. If you are hired into the GS system, you will get priority to apply for positions, when you PCS, and if has been less than a year since you left your job. If you PCS to a base you can get spousal preference if you use it within a 2 year period of moving there. This increases the chances of you getting hired because you are in a different category. This brings up the downside that it can be difficult to get a position, and the process is very different than a typical job application. You would have to apply on USA jobs and look at what the requirements are. Note that if you are looking to work at the Commissary, you would apply on USA jobs. Also, if you’re overseas or in certain parts of the United States, you can apply for Department of Defence Schools (DODS). These positions include teachers (if you are licensed and certified in a state already), teachers’ aids, substitutes, and support staff. This is a great option if you have kids and you want to be home when they are.


This is where you make contract and bid to apply for a job. The agency is then given a few people to interview. This is the pool of people they choose from. You determine the terms of your work. However, you usually won’t get benefits and it is not guaranteed that your contact will get picked back up.

Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) Positions

These are jobs are usually run through Force Support Squadron (FSS) for the Air Force. These include jobs like child care at the Child Development Center (CDC) or at the Youth Center, the bowling alley or the base club. They don’t usually come with as many benefits as the GS position, but they are easier to get. Granted, if you’re working at the CDC or Youth Center, the process maybe a bit longer, because the background checks are pretty extensive. This is understandable, since you don’t want just anybody to watch Junior.

Army Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES)/Navy Exchange (NEX) Coast Guard Exchange (CGX)

First a little bit of history; the Army was one of the first armed services, then from the Army, came the Air Corps, which we now know as the Air Force. (Now we are most spoiled than our big Army brother.) The Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy, so they both use the NEX, not AAFES. And Coast Guard, well you know you’re always on your own. You guys have the CGX. With all that, which one you work at will usually depend on what service your spouse is in; however, if you’re in a location where there are many branches of military near you, you can have your pick. The Exchanges can offer retail and managerial positions wherever there is a base. If you’re up to it, there are even stores at forward locations, so you can deploy too!

Vendors and Resturants/Food Trucks

These include anything that is not military, AAFES/NEX, DECA or any other base entity. They are ran locally. This is only really a talking point, because when you live overseas, there are certain rules you need to follow to get a job. In the UK, you have to get a National Insurance Number (NIN), and a vignette (no, it’s not salad dressing, unlike what my husband thinks). While in Italy, spouses, as far as I know, can’t work on the economy. I will research the major places where overseas employment is, and write an article in the future.


This can include writing a blog, being a photographer, or selling on Scentcy, Young Living or Pampered Chef. Essentially, you make your own hours and income. How much you make is dependent on how efficiently and how often you work. You can also do this work from anywhere, which is convenient for military spouses. There is no safety net or benefits such as a salary or even an hourly paid position. You will get support and advice from many of the companies that offer these opportunities though, because they want you to sell their stuff. I connected with Brett East who is a Young Living distributor with an e-book called 4 Year Career on how to start a direct sales business. She can help you get jump start on your business. If you’re on your own or want more help, there lots of support from the military spouse side which I’ll leave down below.

Family Child Care (FCC) Provider

You can work from home watching children, which is great, especially if you have kids of your own. You can make a good amount of money, and you’ll be in high demand. The military overall has a high need for child care options because of the long, sometimes strange work hours, or because people don’t want the kids around the movers. This falls under entrepreneurship because you essentially own your own daycare, even though it is run by a base organization. Note that the burn out rate for FCC providers can be high, because your house is not your own anymore. You can’t have coins laying around, or loose cords, and basically your house will look like a day care. This was a great option for me when I had little babies and toddlers, but it may not work as well now, because they are teenagers and things don’t have to be baby-proof.

Remote Work/Freelancing

This includes working from home, doing things like medical billing, graphic design, or bookkeeping. This includes all work that can move with you as long as you have access to a computer. You won’t have the benefits of being an employee, like leave or health care (not so big a deal for spouses because of Tricare), and it’s also not guaranteed work as people may not hire you again after your project is complete.

Happy Job Hunting!

I hope this article was helpful so that you can find a job that fits your needs and lifestyle right now. Please reach out if you have any questions or need further help.

Helpful Links

USA Jobs https://www.usajobs.gov/

Military Spouse Employment Preference article by Hil meets Mil https://pin.it/pkbmqcotjbd3g

NAF Jobs https://www.nafjobs.org/viewjobs.aspx

Contracting Jobs http://federalgovernmentjobs.us/

Freelancing Jobs https://www.upwork.com/

Freelancer-VirtForce Facebook Group

Entrepreneurs-MilSpouse Creative Facebook Group

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