Education Options for Military SpousesUpdated: March 23, 2021
As a military spouse, finding a great job that moves with you is probably at the top of your bucket list. You want a job that turns into a real career and makes great money. So, don’t let constant relocations stop you from pursuing a college degree and landing that dream job. The best way to do that is by getting your college degree in a highly portable career field. This will greatly increase your chances of finding new employment after a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)—no matter where you are stationed!
So, let’s look at some of the best degree options that will allow military spouses like you to land a great job where you are today, develop it into a career, and build it into something you can take with you, no matter where your next duty station may be.
Best Degrees for Military Spouses
Bachelor’s Degree in Education
There are schools, colleges, and students no matter where you are stationed, and the demand for teachers has never been higher. The life of an educator is rewarding, personally satisfying, and can offer a career that you can take anywhere. Getting into the education field can lead to the following jobs:
- Public or private school teacher (including Department of Defense Dependent School System (DoDDS)) (Avg Salary: $49,529)
- College instructor (may require a Master’s Degree) (Avg Salary: $50,021)
- Tutor (Avg Pay: $17.80/hr)
- Trainer (Avg Salary: $53,451)
An Education Degree is highly portable because many states have “reciprocity” arrangements, where one state will accept the licensing requirements of another. Many states also accept a national teacher certificate. Just remember that you’ll have to get your state license to teach and may have to go through an internship or residency training.
Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
Healthcare is one of the most portable careers out there. You won’t be stationed anywhere that there aren’t hospitals, urgent care centers, or clinics. Nurses are the lifeblood of the healthcare field and are always in high demand. A degree in nursing can lead to these rewarding nursing careers:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) (Avg Salary: $44,686)
- Registered Nurse (RN) (Avg Salary: $64,640 )
You will have to get your state license to get into the field of nursing. But the good news is that all 50 states now practice reciprocity (your state license accepted by another state) ever since the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) was nationally standardized. That means you can apply for a license once you relocate to a new state without having to take additional tests. A fee is involved in the process.
Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science/Information Technology (IT)
You won’t have any trouble finding a job with a computer-related degree. It will give you the skills you’ll need to pursue a career in one of many high-paying tech-focused career fields. A degree in computer science or IT can lead to these exciting jobs:
- Software Developer (Avg. Salary: $71,428)
- Computer Support Specialist (Avg. Salary: $49,413)
- Web Developer (Avg. Salary: $59,514)
- IT Manager (Avg. Salary: $88,216)
Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration
A degree in business administration will give you the tools you need to succeed in the business world and one of the most portable degree options for military spouses. You will be able to find a job in many areas, from retail sales to working with local or government businesses. You’ll also have the chance to pursue your Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). Here are some great jobs for anyone with a degree in business administration:
- Retail Salesperson (Avg. Salary: $43,880)
- Business Manager (Avg. Salary: $61,604)
- Bookkeeper (Avg. Salary: $43,147)
- Accountant (Avg. Salary: $51,218)
Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies
There are law firms in every city or town in the country. There are also legal offices located on every military base in the world. A degree in paralegal studies can open many doors for you and could even lead to a career as a lawyer after you complete an advanced degree. A paralegal studies degree can lead these great jobs:
- Paralegal (Avg. Salary: $48,516)
- Claims Adjuster/Investigator (Avg. Salary: $51,729)
- Collections Specialist (Avg. Salary: $43,348)
- Lawyer (Requires your J.D.) (Avg. Salary: $84,771)
Pharmacy Tech Degree/Certificate
Demand for pharmacists and pharmacy techs is expected to increase as the number of the elderly rises. With a Rite Aid or Walgreens on just about every street corner or strip mall, a Pharmacy Tech degree is very portable. You’ll help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. Many states require pharmacy techs to complete an internship program or get a certificate before starting work.
- Pharmacy Tech (Avg Salary: $35,126)
Associate’s Degree/Certificate in Child Development
Even though you don’t need a certificate or degree to work as a child care worker, having those credentials will go a long way in getting you right into a position at a child care center. There are plenty of daycare centers in the local community, or you could work at one of the centers on your military installation. If you plan to make this line of work a career, an advanced degree could set you up as a director or owner of a childcare center. Here are some jobs you can get with a degree or certificate in child development:
- Child Care Worker (Avg Salary: $29,317)
- Day Care Teacher (Avg Salary: $28,914)
- Day Care Center Director (Avg. Salary: $40,018)
Licensing and Certification
Many jobs that military spouses pursue have specific licensing and state certification requirements—especially for careers in teaching, healthcare, and social work. We know how stressful it is to worry if your license or certification will be honored at your next duty station. Don’t let that be a roadblock! You have worked hard to get that degree, land that job, and complete all the requirements needed to work in that field. The good news is that many states have passed legislation and best practices to remove licensure obstacles for military spouses. Visit the Department of Labor Military Spouse License Recognition Map for current information for your specific state.
Also, if you PCS, you can get reimbursed up to $1,000 for costs connected with exams or registration fees if you work in that job in your new state. Each military branch has its own procedures for reimbursement.
Education Assistance for Military Spouses
Knowing what’s available when it comes to financial aid and education funding is vital if you want to pursue your college degree. So, where do you start?
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
This is usually the first step to finding out your financial aid entitlements. The FAFSA gathers information about income and family size, which is then reviewed by the government to determine how much financial aid you can get. The FAFSA is also used to see if you qualify for state aid, college scholarships, and local scholarships given by small businesses and organizations.
Source for salary data: www.payscale.com
Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.