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Finding Portable Employment Overseas

Start your search for a portable career today using these resources and tips.

Military spouses are frequently on the move, so portable careers that travel with them can be convenient and appreciated options. That is especially true when the next address is overseas. Here are 10 portable career paths or opportunities that may be the perfect fit during your time in a foreign country. You will also find resources you can use as you prepare to find work overseas.

Virtual work: If you have a laptop and access to the internet, you have a portable office at your fingertips. Potential fields include accounting, information technology, editing and writing, marketing, creative services and social media. There is no need to commute and the hours are often flexible. Find fields that interest you by searching the Occupational Outlook Handbook using keywords. Start exploring positions through the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search.

Defense contracting: Many of the companies that support the government conduct business on overseas installations. Contact your local installation employment readiness specialist for information about defense contractors that provide support at your installation. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select 'Spouse Education, Training and Careers' under the 'Select a program or service' drop-down menu and enter your installation or postal code to find a point of contact.

Home business: Some of the world’s most well-known companies started in someone’s garage, and your overseas move may present the perfect time to start writing or perfecting your own success story. Looking for your light bulb moment? Visit the Self-Exploration section of the Career Exploration lifecycle stage on the MySECO website for free assessments to help you learn more about what might interest you. Career coaches can also help you determine a career path and set goals. Learn more about entrepreneurship.

Your installation exchange: The exchange at your overseas installation carries household provisions, fashions, electronics – and portable career opportunities that include retail and business operations. These government-owned companies offer name brand items at low prices for service members and their families. Typically, the funds that exchanges generate support installation quality-of-life programs, making working there a win-win situation. You may be able to use your military spouse preference when you apply.

Your installation commissary: Chances are, you will be a frequent shopper at your installation Defense Commissary Agency grocery store. You may want to work there too, in customer service, grocery, management support, meat, produce or receiving. Visit the Careers with DeCA page on the DeCA website.

Nonappropriated fund positions: These positions support installation quality-of-life services. They include Morale, Welfare and Recreation opportunities, which are highly portable and have a lot of room for growth.

Civil service or appropriated fund positions: These government positions receive funding through Congress and apply to a wide variety of career fields, including public affairs, office administration, contract procurement, skilled labor, engineering and intelligence. These careers are highly portable. The Department of Defense Priority Placement Program can help you pursue a civil service career, and most federal jobs are posted on USAJOBS.

Your local community: You may be able to work in the local community of your host nation. The United States maintains a Status of Forces Agreement with each country that hosts a U.S. military installation. It establishes rights and privileges, and dictates whether you will need a work visa for employment in the local community. Check with your installation legal assistance office for specifics about your host country’s employment regulations. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select 'Legal Services/JAG' under the 'Select a program or service' drop-down menu and enter your installation or postal code to find a contact. You can also work with your installation employment readiness specialist to research local taxes, fees and labor laws.

Volunteer opportunities: It may not be an immediate path to income, but volunteering can be a priceless experience that may pave the way for future opportunities. Learn new skills, form personal and professional relationships, and bond with your new community. Use MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to search by installation, state or program. Select 'Family Center' under the 'Select a program or service' drop-down menu and enter your installation or postal code for a contact. Visit for virtual opportunities. Check Blue Star Families and for opportunities to assist military families. Enter “Volunteer” in the keyword search on MySECO for more information.

Going back to school: Here’s another option that has the potential to pay big dividends down the road. Consider advancing your education, getting training or securing licensing while you’re overseas. You’ll be that much closer to the portable profession of your dreams.

Wherever your search takes you, Spouse Education and Career Opportunities career coaches are ready to assist you with career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections. Call 800-342-9647 to speak with a career coach, or check out these resources for spouse career and education support.

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