Military Spouses: How to Start a Side Job

Updated: April 8, 2022
In this Article

    As an active duty military spouse, I can attest to the notion that being employed can sometimes feel like a privilege. Though we are an educated and hard-working group, frequent moves and military schedules – while raising a family, no less – make it increasingly difficult to find meaningful employment and earn income. In fact, according to a recent survey by Blue Star Families, 30 percent of military spouses reported that they were unemployed and 56 percent said they were underemployed in 2018, making spouse employment the top obstacle to financial security among military families. No surprise there.

    Thankfully, the technology age has brought with it the opportunity for military spouses to take employment into our own hands by starting side hustles.

    What is a side hustle? Simply put, a side hustle allows you the flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in while making some extra cash. Depending on what you want to do, you can spend four or 40 hours a week working your hustle – the time commitment is completely up to you. Best of all, you’re your own boss and can manage your schedule according to the needs of you and your family.

    If you’re looking to make some extra money and need ideas for how to start a side hustle, here are some tips to get you started:

    First, assess your skills, background, and expertise. Leave no stone unturned – your side hustle can incorporate your professional experience, your knack for making DIY crafts, and/or your gift for socializing.

    Make your professional experience work for you by freelancing.

    Have you had any formal training? Do you have a college degree? Have you held any full-time jobs? Are you great at administrative tasks? Do you have professional certifications and licenses? A lot of your past job experience will probably translate into opportunities to freelance. For example, marketers can take up freelance editing, writing, or social media management. Accountants can help with small business bookkeeping. People great at organizing and communicating can do administrative tasks like answering phones or managing emails. Photoshop enthusiasts can develop logos. The possibilities are endless!

    If you’re not sure how your past experience would apply to freelance work, think about your skills like you would when job searching. What keywords do you typically type in to the job search engine – customer service, marketing, accounting, etc.? Once you’ve got your keyword, visit freelancing job platforms like Upwork and type it into the search field and see what comes up. This will help you determine what types of freelance projects are available, what the typical rate is for those projects, and give you a better idea of how to utilize your existing skills.

    Before you begin, you’ll want to gather your portfolio or clean up your resume and tailor it to the types of projects you’re interested in doing. If heading directly to Upwork seems intimidating, try asking family and friends if they know someone who needs help with the service you’re offering. This can also help you build up your confidence – as well as your portfolio – before diving into the more competitive freelance market.

    Earn money while getting creative with artisan crafts.

    Making specialty crafts and goods has become an increasingly popular market, especially with sites like Etsy making it easier than ever to make handcrafted items accessible to the public. If you’re one of those people who finds themselves looking at picture frames and saying to yourself, I could make this, or even if you just enjoy making something from nothing, doing something where you can let your creative side shine – and making money from it – might be a great side hustle for you.

    From t-shirts to pillows to tumblers to bath bombs to jewelry, there’s no limit on the types of artisan crafts you can make. Best of all, you don’t need to figure out a precise methodology to get started as there are plenty of templates available online to help you in your creations. Plus, besides startup costs for materials, all you need is a little imagination and a can-do attitude!

    When you are ready to sell, head to sites like Etsy or Facebook to spread the word – both sites are an inexpensive alternative to creating a website and also help with marketing to potential buyers.

    Monetize your social skills with on-demand jobs.

    Staying at home by yourself all day can be really isolating. If you love being around people (or pets … more on that in a minute) and find yourself needing some socialization, on-demand jobs might be the perfect fit for you.

    If you own your car and are over 21 years old, you can sign up for Lyft or Uber to help people reach their destination and get there safely. Similarly, apps like UberEATS and Door Dash need take-out delivery drivers. Do you love animals? Sites like Wag! and Rover connect pet owners with daytime dog walkers (bonus points for exercise!) and pet sitters. Are you organized and good with your hands? Task Rabbit enlists the help of everyday people to assist with tasks like home repair, house cleaning, yard work, and furniture installation.

    On-demand jobs also allow you to work as little or as much as you want and on your own schedule – from anywhere in the country. That can come in handy when tagging along to your spouse’s training conference in another state.

    Need more side-hustle business ideas?

    Opportunities to earn income with a side-hustle are in no way limited to what’s listed above.

    If you’re a teacher, or even if you’ve always wanted to teach, you can sign up to teach English with VIPKid, become an adjunct professor, tutor neighborhood kids, or create your own curriculum by teaching online with Udemy. For less than $100, you can earn your Notary certification and charge your own fee to notarize documents. If you enjoy taking surveys and giving feedback, some companies pay up to $35 per survey to help with research. In the same vein, companies also pay up to $100 an hour for focus group participants.

    There are hundreds of side-hustles you can capitalize on depending on your interests. Plus, if you find that one side-hustle isn’t really working for you or you discover a new opportunity, you can always switch your focus – you’re your own boss after all. If none of the ideas outlined here sparked your interest, here are 99 side hustle business ideas.

    About The AuthorKristen Baker-Geczy is a communications specialist, active duty military spouse, and former MWR marketing coordinator. She was also deployed to Southwest Asia as an Air Force contractor.

    Written by Team