Military & Spouse Employment At Military Bases

Updated: July 27, 2021
In this Article

    Being part of the military family earns you access to a wide range of benefits. Some of these benefits are “official” Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense programs, but others are less formal and made available either privately (such as military preference hiring) or publicly (discounted education, training, or career change help).

    There are also some not-so-obvious benefits and advantages to consider—like on-base employment. Jobs are available on-base for military members and spouses, providing them with a chance to earn additional income or start a career at an on-base job.

    Can Military Members and Their Spouses Work On-Base?

    Yes, they can. If you are a military member, have completed training, and settled at your first duty station, you can earn additional money by working on-base. You will need to find out from your unit commander the policy on accepting “off-duty employment.” Those procedures will vary from command to command.

    If you are a military spouse, the opportunities are greater for employment on-base. You may even get preferential hiring privileges for some jobs.

    If you are a veteran, retiree, or military dependent, you may also be eligible to apply for many jobs available on-base.

    What Types of Jobs Are Available On-Base?

    Since most of the jobs on military installations are either performed by military members, government contractors, or civil service employees, the jobs available for off-duty military members are limited. There are more opportunities available for spouses, like federal government positions.

    Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and Exchanges

    There are often opportunities for entry-level part-time employment through the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, better known as AAFES. AAFES operates retail establishments on military bases and is the military version of a “big box” retailer, known as The Exchange.

    The Commissary

    AAFES and Exchanges aren’t the only on-base retailer that may offer entry-level or higher employment opportunities. The Defense Commissary Agency, which runs grocery stores on base, may also have positions available.

    Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program (MWR)

    There are also jobs available via the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program, which operates in some form on many bases stateside and overseas. These jobs include positions at fitness centers, movies theaters, and recreations centers found on military installations worldwide. You can find most of these jobs on sites like, or you could visit the MWR office on your base to find out what jobs are available.

    Federal Government Positions

    Spouses, veterans, and retirees may be eligible for Federal Civil Service positions. These jobs are listed on the government’s USAJobs site. Check out these tips for landing a federal job or visit USAJobs for listings. Military spouses also may be eligible for hiring preferences.

    How Do I Apply for Jobs On-Base?

    You will need to provide standard job application data, but for some jobs, additional information may be required, such as your military status or status as a dependent or spouse. Overseas jobs for military dependents and spouses may require a copy of the military member’s orders or other documentation unique to applying for an overseas job located on U.S. government property.

    About The AuthorJim 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.

    Written by Team