Military spouse employment overseas
Military spouse employment is a HUGE issue. When you receive orders overseas, it becomes an even bigger question mark. Can you work in Germany? And if you can work, should you work? These are two very different yet important questions to ask and answer. Ultimately, only you can make the best decision for yourself and your family.
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Can you work while stationed in Germany?
The short, simple answer is theoretically: yes, you can work while stationed in Germany. But if it were really that simple I wouldn’t need to do a whole blog post and video on it. There are many obstacles and downsides to having a job, including simply not being able to procure one or the jobs available are not worth your time for such low pay.
By now you’ve probably figured out that options are pretty limited on base in Germany. If you want to work a traditional brick-and-mortar job, www.USAJobs.gov will be your best friend! You will use this site when searching and applying for federal jobs on base. The smaller the base, the less options you’ll have.
Tips for working on base
If you have any type of college degree, you will most likely be overqualified for the most basic jobs on base. Finding a job that fits your specialized skill or certification, like public school teacher or registered nurse, will definitely pay better. Having a career in the federal system is very beneficial for military spouses! The downside is that those types of specialized jobs can be difficult to procure. Positions tend to be very limited overseas. However, remember your military spouse preference for federal jobs! Look for the green symbol on the USAJobs site.
Another very important note: if you do decide to take a GS job, make sure that you’re not shooting yourself in the foot longterm. I learned at a military spouse conference here in Germany that if you take, for example, a GS 6 job, and later want to get a GS 12 job, you cannot jump from GS 6 to 12. (The exception is if it’s a Direct Hire position.) You have to go through all the GS steps. So don’t take a low GS job out of desperation. It could hurt you later if you qualify for a higher GS job.
Working at home options
Working from home or doing a home based business (HBB) is a pretty popular solution amongst military spouses. If you are about to move overseas and you are currently employed, see if your employer has a remote work option. If so, you can bring your remote job with you to Germany and work from home.
Another option is to start or continue a home based business. This could be joining a direct marketing company, starting an Etsy shop, selling online/digital services or products, or performing a physical service like cake-baking, housecleaning, or dog sitting. However, doing a HBB in Germany comes with its own regulations and restrictions.
Should you work while stationed in Germany?
This is a more philosophical question and will depend on who you are as a person, what your family’s needs are, how much you want to travel, and if you have kids and need childcare. It depends on whether you want to work a job on base, work from home, or simply not work at all. Would working on base be worth your time, and the expense of childcare if you have kids?
The travel question is really crucial. Living in Europe is the chance of a lifetime, and you don’t want to waste opportunities. If you work a job on base, you will be more limited as to when you can travel. Just because your service member gets a 4-day weekend doesn’t mean your federal job on base offers that. So your flexibility may be limited, or you may have to take vacation time or unpaid leave. But the upside is that you will have more income on which to travel.
Doing an HBB also has its pros and cons. It also depends on your self motivation and if you’re willing to deal with German taxes and the garrison regulations. Plus, if you’re just starting your business, you may not make much, if any, money the first few years anyway – so it’ll essentially be a hobby. But there could be longterm potential to income if you really work at it. You’ll also have much more flexibility on when you can travel because you can set your own hours. The same applies if you choose to not work at all. When your husband has off, you can travel!
What I chose to do
I decided to not pursue work on base for several reasons. Instead, I chose to pursue a HBB, because both my husband and I saw the longterm income potential, which would not be possible with an entry-level federal job. We’ve also never been a dual-income couple, as I started nursing school prerequisites almost 6 months into our marriage. So it wasn’t a hardship for us to move here and just have one substantial income.
Ultimately, you have to choose what’s best for you and your family. Will you regret not being able to travel freely? Then working a job on base may not be in your best interest. Does working a HBB without much pay at first not seem appealing, not to mention having to follow all the rules? Then don’t start an HBB, even if everyone around you seems to be doing it. Do you need something to keep you busy, or do you easily isolate yourself? Then not working at all might not be great for you.
Let me know in the comments what you chose to do as a military spouse stationed overseas! Or, if you’re about to PCS here, let me know what you’re thinking about doing and if you have any questions about the job scene here.
Audio credit in video: http://audionautix.com – “Folk Bed”, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License