Portable careers or careers in demand regardless of location are a fantastic choice for a mobile military spouse. Your portable career moves with you through PCS moves, no matter where your next installation might be. But many portable careers, such as nursing, teaching or cosmetology, require higher education degrees that may be expensive to obtain. While you may find many generalized or even military spouse-specific scholarships worth pursuing to help you pay for your education, don’t forget to search for specialized, career-focused scholarships as well.
Determine your portable career degree
Make sure you have given lots of thought about the portable career degree you want to pursue. Many of the scholarships associated with these degrees will only be valid while you are in the required program, so you may not be able to change your focus and retain the scholarship. If you are unsure about the best-fit portable career for you, contact a career coach at 800-342-9647 for a direct, personalized assessment or use the resources in the Career Exploration lifecycle stage of MySECO like the following:
- Highly Portable Degrees for Military Spouses
- Teaching Certifications and Licenses
- Health Care Jobs on the Move
- Portable Careers in Child Care
- Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors
Contact your school
Perhaps the easiest way to find a scholarship for your particular degree is to ask your school’s financial aid department if there is already a program set up. Oftentimes, schools will use specialized scholarships to promote specific degrees, making the perfect opportunity for you to find scholarship money without having to go through outside organizations. Even if your school does not offer any scholarships for your portable career, the financial aid department may be able to point you toward other promising scholarships.
Check for company scholarships
Many businesses and organizations, such as the American Red Cross, will sponsor students with scholarships in career-focused fields to attract future talent. Make sure to check out companies relevant to your chosen degree to see if they offer such scholarships. You can do this by checking out their official websites or by contacting them directly by phone or email. Be sure you read any terms thoroughly as some business scholarships may require you to work for the sponsoring organization for a set period after you graduate.
Search the internet
It can be tricky to navigate the endless reaches of the internet to sift away scams and find reputable scholarships, but it can prove essential to funding your education. Start with professional associations, state boards and certification agencies in your career field. The Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook often lists professional associations under the 'More Info' tab within an occupation profile, or you can use a trustworthy scholarship database like the CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder.
If you still need additional funding, put simple search terms consisting of your chosen degree and the words “scholarship” or “grant” into a search engine. Then read the results with a critical eye paying close attention to the following:
- Source of each scholarship — Verify that the organization is reputable by researching it elsewhere. If you do not feel confident that the source is legitimate, do not apply.
- Date of the last update to the site — If the website has not been updated in more than a year, you may want to contact the organization to ensure the scholarship is active before applying.
- Display of scholarship recipients from the previous year.
- Personal information requests — Withhold sensitive information like your Social Security number to ensure you do not fall victim to identity theft.
- Any membership or application fees.
Some scholarships have specific instructions or conditions for how the award is dispersed, so read the terms and conditions to ensure the scholarship will apply to your chosen school and your degree. If you are still unsure after closely examining the details of a scholarship, you may want to contact your school directly to ask your questions.
Remember, you can always return to the SECO Scholarship Finder for vetted scholarships offered specifically to military spouses and family members. Contact a career coach at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on MySECO for any additional questions or guidance on financing your degree.