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Old 03-13-2010, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
19 posts, read 104,619 times
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I am a soon to be militray wife. My husband just joined the Army and will be leaving for Basic next month and then DLI after that. I plan to move with him once he gets to CA. I was wondering what you do for careers and what careers you find to be most portable. I have a Bachelors degree in social work and am currently in a MSW program, however, I'm not sure this degree will be that portable or lucrative enough to support us. I have also been thinking about speech language pathology or nursing. I have taken some SLP courses but it would still take me 3 years to complete. Same thing for nursing, I would need to do about 1 yr of prereqs and then apply to an accelerated BSN program. I am 26 and have no children. Any advice on career opportunities in these 3 fields as an army wife would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 03-13-2010, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,493,155 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachy9 View Post
I am a soon to be militray wife. My husband just joined the Army and will be leaving for Basic next month and then DLI after that. I plan to move with him once he gets to CA. I was wondering what you do for careers and what careers you find to be most portable. I have a Bachelors degree in social work and am currently in a MSW program, however, I'm not sure this degree will be that portable or lucrative enough to support us. I have also been thinking about speech language pathology or nursing. I have taken some SLP courses but it would still take me 3 years to complete. Same thing for nursing, I would need to do about 1 yr of prereqs and then apply to an accelerated BSN program. I am 26 and have no children. Any advice on career opportunities in these 3 fields as an army wife would be greatly appreciated!!
I can only advise you on what I know as I worked my way through the GS system as a military spouse. I have a degree in political science and before I married my husband was working my way up in a well respected PR/Lobbying company in Phoenix. We got stationed at Ramstein and moved to Germany less than a month after we got married. I enjoyed living in Germany for about 3 months until I got bored and decided I needed to get a job. I went to the Civilian Personnel Office and was told if I wanted to work, I was going to have to be a secretary. Because of my degree, I could automatically qualify for a GS-5 job. Whoo hoo. Not much money but it WAS something to do. So, I started working as a secretary and worked my way up to squadron commander secretary. When we moved from Germany, we got stationed at Luke and I used my military spouse preference to get a job as a group secretary (GS-6) and then moved up to wing secretary (GS-9). We then got transferred to MacDill and I used my spouse preference again, but was given a GS-5 job (though I got to keep my salary).

As an Army wife, I am assuming your life won't be much different from mine (as far as working as a civilian on a military base goes). After you get stationed at your base, find out where the civilian personnel office is (they might have a different name for it but it should be connected within the military personnel flight). You will need to bring in orders that have your name on them to show you will get military spouse preference and ask them some questions. Don't take anyone's advice that you must apply on-line through the huge personnel office in Texas. This is not true and is a quick way to get you out of their office. There ARE jobs available at each base and as a military spouse ON ORDERS, you should not have to go through the system that an average person who lives in the area but wants to work on the base has to go through. You will have to be very proactive...ask questions, shake hands, take names and numbers.

Once you get into the system, you will be able to transfer around with military spouse preference. You will probably have to lower your expectations or perhaps look at speech therapy with the DoDDs system. What you are going to have to decide is how much your career means to you. If you start working in a job that won't transfer to a little base in the middle of nowhere, you are going to be out of luck (or living on your own). I've met a few people whose spouse had a specific, high-paying job and ended up staying behind to work because there wasn't an opportunity for them at their new location. This is something only you can decide. For me, working as a secretary was hardly anything to notify my alumni association about, but it was the easiest to do because every commander needs a secretary and I actually met some truly amazing people and made some great friends (and got to take an incentive flight in an F-16 with my boss who worked very hard to make be throw up...to no avail...but still a highlight in my lifestory). Yes, it was well beneath my capabilities but I need to work and didn't want to stay behind as my husband progressed through his career. There are also some civilian jobs available at military hospitals on the base, but as the DoD starts to cut back in order to save money, they have started to close down facilities and send active duty members and their families to doctors off base.

Hope that helps. My second job at Ramstein was at the civilian personnel office where I learned the ins and outs of applying for jobs. It was VERY helpful and I always make a point to steer people in the right direction because as I progressed through the system, I met some people who just wanted me out of their office. Fortunately I knew better and you should too.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Hades
2,126 posts, read 2,046,103 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachy9 View Post
I am a soon to be militray wife. My husband just joined the Army and will be leaving for Basic next month and then DLI after that. I plan to move with him once he gets to CA. I was wondering what you do for careers and what careers you find to be most portable. I have a Bachelors degree in social work and am currently in a MSW program, however, I'm not sure this degree will be that portable or lucrative enough to support us. I have also been thinking about speech language pathology or nursing. I have taken some SLP courses but it would still take me 3 years to complete. Same thing for nursing, I would need to do about 1 yr of prereqs and then apply to an accelerated BSN program. I am 26 and have no children. Any advice on career opportunities in these 3 fields as an army wife would be greatly appreciated!!
My husband is army but before I met him I moved around quite a bit already so "portable career" ideas were always a priority. Our first post together is one of those "little posts in the middle of nowhere" (Fort Rucker- pleasant environment, but small base and not much going on). Also, because his assignment here is less than a year, I do not qualify for military spouse preference- a system I agree with, but it also does pose that short term obstacle.

It's funny you mention Speech Language Pathology as I have seen a position open for months here at Fort Rucker for a Speech Language Pathologist. That's a pretty hot degree. I've worked a lot in Special Education in different school systems and it appears that Speech Language Pathology, Occupational and Physical Therapists are all degrees with very good job outlook wherever you might land. I would consider those pretty portable degrees. Social work also seems to be a field in which being a transient is not really a detriment.

My own personal advice to myself (and other military spouses) is to focus on getting credentials in a field that you are passionate about working in. You will face a career of transience and that vigor for whatever field you are working in contributes both to skill and "competitiveness" for whatever position. Scanning job opportunities on various bases on USAjobs.gov in the field you are considering committing to could also give you a clearer idea of salary ranges you can work towards and you might find that it actually is sufficient to support your household. Just my two cents.
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:11 PM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
24,129 posts, read 38,859,608 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachy9 View Post
I am a soon to be militray wife. My husband just joined the Army and will be leaving for Basic next month and then DLI after that. I plan to move with him once he gets to CA. I was wondering what you do for careers and what careers you find to be most portable.

Any advice on career opportunities in these 3 fields as an army wife would be greatly appreciated!!
I am not an Army wife, my wife of 40+ years is/was, I am retired from the Army. It's hard to predict the future. Briefly my wife went Federal Civil Service about 28 years ago after realizing she could not get a job while we were stationed in Germany. We enjoyed our 42 month tour, she did voluntary work, but having the extra income would have been nice.

Someone mentioned USAjobs.gov , they are the primary Federal employment and contract site. Just something to learn about for the future and to consider.


Rich
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:05 PM
 
3,422 posts, read 9,432,996 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadScribe View Post

My own personal advice to myself (and other military spouses) is to focus on getting credentials in a field that you are passionate about working in. You will face a career of transience and that vigor for whatever field you are working in contributes both to skill and "competitiveness" for whatever position.
I agree wholeheartedly with this.

You could end up overseas the bulk of your husband's time in service, or stateside most of the time, or a balanced combination of that. You could be in rinky dink places or bigger places. None of your 3 career choices mentioned are that "far out" that in a moderately sized city you wouldn't be able to find positions that would eventually open up for applicants. I would definitely agree with finishing up one of those 3 choices so when the opportunities are there you can pursue them. And, when they are not, for instance, on your first OCONUS assignment, you can pursue your civil service options. Once you are in the GS system though, you may find, like 3Ds, you want to stay in it. I knew people who took GS jobs at overseas bases just to get into the system even though they did not really like the job they accepted. They did it so when they returned to the states, it would be easier to get a job and I believe you get to keep your pay level.

I honestly think the SLP or nursing would be more portable than the MSW, but cannot say that with 100% certainty - just a feeling.

Also, you are just starting this part of your life, but my husband is eligible for retirement in 5 years. Part of my career planning involves my being able to work at something I enjoy that pays well enough so that when he retires he can pursue a job he really likes as opposed to taking some gov't job he can get b/c we need the money. 20 years feels like a long time but gosh it feels like yesterday that mine graduated from his technical training and we were a young married couple.
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,493,155 times
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Originally Posted by lisdol View Post
Part of my career planning involves my being able to work at something I enjoy that pays well enough so that when he retires he can pursue a job he really likes as opposed to taking some gov't job he can get b/c we need the money. 20 years feels like a long time but gosh it feels like yesterday that mine graduated from his technical training and we were a young married couple.
It was interesting to me when I was working in the Civilian Personnel Office at Ramstein how many former military spouses were now career service employees (GS-13+) who started out low in the GS system when their husbands were in the military and after working for 20-odd years in government service, found themselves to be able to travel on orders and drag their husbands around. I met lots of them who worked at the commissary making tips for bagging just to have "golf money" as they used to put it. If your spouse is just starting out, it will do you a world of good to ask a lot of questions. There are some true career opportunities in the GS system that very few people know about but can really turn into a rewarding, well-paying career. Also, the DoDDs system is a pretty good one, I hear, so if you want to do some sort of speech therapy for kids, for example, you may end up on a good career path that can transfer when you have to move with your husband.
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Hades
2,126 posts, read 2,046,103 times
Reputation: 672
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poncho_NM View Post
I am not an Army wife, my wife of 40+ years is/was, I am retired from the Army. It's hard to predict the future. Briefly my wife went Federal Civil Service about 28 years ago after realizing she could not get a job while we were stationed in Germany. We enjoyed our 42 month tour, she did voluntary work, but having the extra income would have been nice.

Rich
We are hoping for Germany for the next PCS and I tell you, if we get it, I'll be willing to work at the commissary But honestly, with even just a few years in childcare under my belt getting a job at one of the childcare centers on post should be very realistic. Having already lived as a civilian overseas I am also not at all daunted by the idea of going out into the local community to look for work. There are many jobs overseas in the communities that call for native English speakers (in my field they tend to relate to bi and tri-lingual schools etc, but extend far beyond the education system). Research, research, research your options.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:24 PM
 
Location: Illinois
92 posts, read 405,791 times
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I say nursing is your best bet, only because I believe you can go virtually anywhere, and have no problem getting a job. I too am at Ft. Rucker, a small post in the middle of nowhere, and in my search to find a job (ha), all I come across are nursing opportunities. I am thinking of going back for my master's in social work also, and in my research, I have discovered it is one of those job fields that is rapidly growing. I think a career in social work is definitely quite portable, however, as far as it being lucrative, maybe not so much.

Also, all the fields you have mentioned qualify for the MyCaa financial assistance program, that provides up to $6,000 for spouses' tuition expenses, as long as they are considered portable careers. The program was temporarily halted, and then restarted as of this week, so you cannot create a new account just yet. However, a friend who works for the program informed me this should change soon. Here is the site for more info: https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa/default.aspx

If you have any more military-related questions, feel free to message me!
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
19 posts, read 104,619 times
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Thanks for all of your replies. My only concern with social work is that it is a profession where you advance in salary based on how long you have been somewhere. Therefore, with every move, you would basically be starting over again, unless you are lucky enough to get a federal social work job. Also, with moving, it would be extremely difficult to get the licensure hours for the LCSW which is needed to do most social work jobs. Additionally, many MSW's are coming out of grad school right now and not finding jobs. I am leaning toward SLP due to the better standard of living (less stress, no shift work, more family time), however nursing would take a shorter amount of time to get degree and I could see myself liking that just as much.
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:10 AM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
24,129 posts, read 38,859,608 times
Reputation: 28092
Quote:
Originally Posted by NomadScribe View Post
We are hoping for Germany for the next PCS and I tell you, if we get it, I'll be willing to work at the commissary But honestly, with even just a few years in childcare under my belt getting a job at one of the childcare centers on post should be very realistic. Having already lived as a civilian overseas I am also not at all daunted by the idea of going out into the local community to look for work. There are many jobs overseas in the communities that call for native English speakers (in my field they tend to relate to bi and tri-lingual schools etc, but extend far beyond the education system). Research, research, research your options.
I realize that for some it might be their goal to stay in a specific field, however I the military member is stationed overseas, the spouse may not have the luxury of having a good job selection.

We have looked at some overseas jobs, but we have not been offered something we both want.

Education was a popular employment, Dept of Defense School Systems.

For beachy9 and her husband, good luck with your careers and be flexible. There are advantages to overseas assignments, those are the times my family really cherished, 25+ years later...


Rich
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