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Overseas Career Options

Living in a foreign country may be one of the most exciting times of your life as well as a unique professional experience. To gain an advantage in a tough job market, you should know about the potential places for employment when living on an overseas installation.

Employment on the installation

Nonappropriated fund positions

Many quality-of-life programs and activities for service members and their families are supported by a combination of appropriated funds, or AF, and nonappropriated funds, or NAF. The NAF positions are government positions funded through self-generated revenue from military exchanges and business activities in each service and may be a great option for you. These positions are highly portable and have lots of room for growth.

Civil service or appropriated fund positions

These government positions are funded by Congress and apply to a wide variety of career fields, such as public affairs, office administration, contract procurement, skilled labor, engineering and intelligence. These careers are also highly portable, and you may be able to leverage military spouse preference for both AF and NAF positions.

Installation exchanges

Your installation's exchange is another great, highly portable career option if you are moving overseas. Exchanges are government-owned companies that offer name brand items at low prices for service members and their families. Typically, the funds generated from exchanges go back into quality of life programs on the installation. They offer retail and business operations positions and you may be able to apply military spouse preference to these positions.

Defense contracting

Business organizations and individuals provide specialized services to the federal government in fields of weaponry, logistics, communications support and more. Many of these contractors conduct their business operations on overseas installations. For information about the defense contractors that provide support at your installation, contact your local installation employment readiness specialist. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, select 'Spouse Education, Training and Careers' from the list of programs and services and enter your installation or postal code to find a point of contact near you.


Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, is your installation's grocery store, which offers employment positions in customer service, grocery, management support, meat, produce and receiving. For more information on working at your installation commissary, visit the Careers with DeCA page.

Virtual work

Many companies offer virtual employment positions that allow you to work remotely outside of an office environment in fields like office administration, teaching, information technology and writing. Check out the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Job Search and the Spouse Ambassador Network for opportunities to use your talents with companies committed to hiring military spouses.

Home-based businesses

Many military spouses have success operating home-based businesses overseas. Consider starting a business doing what you love. If you are not sure what career path is right for you, visit the Self-Exploration section of the Career Exploration lifecycle stage of MySECO. Here, you will find free self-assessments to help you learn more about what might interest you. In addition, SECO career coaches can help you determine a career path and set realistic goals to help you achieve success.

Working in the local community

You may also be able to work within the local community of your host nation. The United States maintains a Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, with each host country that allows a United States military installation. The SOFA establishes the rights and privileges of foreign personnel in the host country. The SOFA also dictates whether you can work within the local community without a work visa or if you need to apply for one with the host nation.

You will need to check with your installation's legal assistance office for specific information about your host country's regulations regarding employment. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS, select 'Legal Services/JAG' from the list of programs and services and enter your installation or postal code to find a point of contact near you. You can also work with your installation's employment readiness specialist to research applicable local taxes, fees and labor laws. Whether you are planning to work on or off the installation when you relocate overseas, knowing your overseas career options can help you land a position in a competitive job market.

For more information on overseas career options, contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website.

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