Military spouses have more career challenges than the average person.
You take care of more of the cooking and cleaning duties while your better half works long hours. If you have kids, deployments mean serving as a single parent for long stretches of time.
And on top of those physical and emotional duties at home, there are always bills that need to be paid.
Having to move every few years for your spouse’s new assignment can throw off career progress and make your resume look shaky, at best.
But where there’s a will (and in military families, there always is), there’s a way.
Military spouses can create their own careers that satisfy both the budget and the soul. It’s just a matter of finding out what works best.
Let’s take a look at some successful military spouse jobs.
Pro Tips from Military Spouses
Tara Glenn, who previously served — and met her husband — in the Navy, now raises her four children in Georgia.
She had a hard time finding a job that would accommodate her pregnancy and necessary care for her youngest child.
Baking came easily to Glenn. She researched cottage food laws in Georgia and found she wouldn’t need to spend a lot to get started.
“The permit wasn’t expensive and most of the ingredients we already had,” she says. “I did buy new muffin pans, though!”
She started selling at the local farmers market with a borrowed canopy, table and chairs. She eventually purchased her own booth equipment once she realized there was interest in her baked goods.
Alongside her weekly stint at the farmer’s market, Glenn found customers through her children’s school, her military neighbors and Facebook. She set a goal to be able to pay monthly tuition at her children’s school with her baking profits.
“We specialized in muffins and bread, had specialized flavors of both and used organic ingredients,” she explains.
In a good month last year, she’d sell about $700 to $800 worth of baked goods, which left her with $500 to $600 in profit.
“Keep an open mind when it comes to employment,” Glenn advises. Aside from her military service, she’s worked as a school photographer, gas station attendant and cashier over the years.
“It is hard moving from community to community and starting all over again every few years, but we are resilient and employers are beginning to notice.”
Hair stylist Caitlin Deigel’s Navy marriage has taken her from New England to California and back.
While working on her business management degree at University of California Santa Cruz, she remembered how much she enjoyed volunteering and giving haircuts at a homeless shelter back east.
But it was hard to go to school, work part time as a stylist, and make time to volunteer.
As she wrapped up her degree, she developed Social Worth — an online platform to connect hair salons with transitional housing services to provide free haircuts to the homeless.
“It is a happy coincidence that the business I want to run pairs well with military life,” Deigel says.
“As long as I succeed in the Connecticut/Rhode Island area where we are living now, I can move the business and grow it in a new area when we have to move again.”
Deigel will have to make new networking connections and acquire local business licenses, but her personal employment will be relatively easy to maintain.
She knows to take her business one step at a time, especially when she has extra responsibilities at home due to her husband’s assignments.
“The key to success and efficiency — whether it’s in the business world, military life or civilian life — is adaptability,” she explains.
So, what sort of career can you build as you also serve as a military spouse? Here are a few ideas:
If You’re Great With Words, Consider:
If you can catch a typo quicker than anyone, consider working as a proofreader.
You can even proofread transcripts, like court proceedings or medical dictation, on the road. Using just an iPad, you could make about $17 per hour.
2. Social Media Management
Craft the perfect tweets for a local business to make decent money on your own schedule.
Social media managers focusing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts and more usually earn at least $500 per month per client.
Fast, accurate typists can make $15 to $25 per hour as transcriptionists.
Much like proofreading, expect to deliver transcription assignments within a few days — or even hours — of receiving them.
If You’re a Numbers Whiz, Try:
4. Selling Clothing on eBay
Buy highly desired items at low costs and resell them to the highest bidder on eBay. It might take some time to determine your selling “sweet spot,” and you’ll need a place to store items until they sell.
But when it comes to flexible work, it’s hard to beat selling online.
You don’t need to be a CPA to be a bookkeeper. You don’t even need to be in the same town as your clients!
There are few costs in setting up a bookkeeping business, and you can earn $60 an hour to track clients online.
6. Selling Used Books
There are plenty of places to sell used books. Do you have the savvy to figure out which ones will earn you the highest profit?
Our founder, Kyle Taylor, once made $750 in one month selling used books online. Just make sure to have a sturdy bookshelf handy for storing your inventory!
If You Like Working With Your Hands, Think About:
7. Selling Baked Goods
Cottage food laws vary by state, so it may take time to get adjusted whenever you move.
But build a fan base on social media and you’ll have hungry customers lining up for your specialty baked goods.
8. Doing Clothing Alterations
Put your sewing skills to work providing alteration services for neighbors and friends.
If you’re experienced and quick at sewing, you could make $20 to $30 per hour.
9. Testing Knitting Patterns
Yes, companies pay knitters to test out patterns and products. Pay varies (some programs only pay in product), but knitting enthusiasts will enjoy this side hustle.
While you’re at it, why not think about selling your own patterns?
10. Doing Calligraphy
Got great penmanship? Here’s an opportunity to earn.
Your artistry on wedding invitation envelopes, birth announcements or gift items could be highly sought after in your community.
Top full-time calligraphers earn $50,000 a year, and with a solid online presence, it’ll be easy to take your work to your next duty station.
If You Like Working With Others, You Might Want to:
11. Take Customer Service Calls
If you have a technical background, you could make $9 to $12 an hour taking calls as an Apple At Home advisor.
Various other companies offer remote customer service jobs, but be sure to have a quiet space to work in while you’re on duty!
12. Become a Virtual Assistant
If you don’t want to spend all day on the phone, consider working as a virtual assistant.
VA roles vary depending on who’s calling the shots, but tasks might include curating content for social media and newsletters, responding to emails or formatting blog posts. Pay ranges from $20 to $60 per hour.
13. Offer Tutoring Sessions
From kids to adults, tutoring services are always in demand.
Work with home-schooled students on subjects their parents aren’t confident teaching; offer after-school sessions in students’ homes or at the library; or work with a tutoring company to host SAT prep classes.
Private tutors can expect to earn $13 to $20 per hour.
14. Take Care of Pets
The dogs will help you reach your Fitbit step goal and cats will … well, they’ll just be cats.
15. Take Family Portraits
If you can’t stop nerding out over your new DSLR, put it to work.
Your Turn: Know of any other flexible jobs for military spouses? Let us know in the comments!
Lisa Rowan is a writer, editor and podcaster living in Washington, D.C. During her few years as an Army wife, she worked as a sales associate and a freelance newspaper reporter.