Milestone 1: Focus on Education or Upskilling
With your professional goals in mind, identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Can you bridge the gap by obtaining a degree, or will some additional training get you there? If you’re looking to build on an existing skill, a brief training course or certification program may fit your needs. If you want to dive into a new field or industry, a degree program may be the best route to take. Seek the support of a career coach or counselor if you need assistance, additional information, or a different perspective. And don’t forget to utilize them, your mentors and your support network to help you navigate schooling and military life. You can do it all, but taking on more should also mean utilizing more support!
Researching UpSkilling and ReSkilling Opportunities
Explore Career Options
My Next Move
Search and browse careers by industry and key words, as well as receive suggestions on possible future careers that match your interests and training.
Career Coaching Support
American Job Center Employment and Education Resources
Employment, education, and relocation resources just for military spouses.
Real Life Snapshot
Kate Viar, an Army spouse, served as Amazon’s Director of Worldwide Public Sector Engagement for Amazon Web Services – a term-limited executive development role that allows Viar to shadow and learn from leaders within the worldwide AWS public sector business. She says Amazon’s philosophy of “Learn and Be Curious” has positively impacted her career. When considering upskilling it can positively impact yours too. Kate says, “My best advice is to never stop learning and developing your skills, even if you land in a remote location without relevant job opportunities,” Viar said. “Do not view your career trajectory as a rigid line; instead think about the skills you will need to get you into an executive role down the road.”
Evaluate educational opportunities
With so many educational and training opportunities the enrollment process may seem overwhelming. Take a deep breath and don’t rush yourself. Do you research to make sure you enroll in a high-quality program or course that will ensure you learn the skills you really need to get you where you want to go. And seek recommendations and advice from your network so you can make a selection that you’ll feel good about.
Military spouses were equally interested in pursuing a degree, a certificate, or brushing up on new skills.
Overall, they were equally interested in pursuing a degree (52%), a vocational or technical certificate (52%), or to brush up or gain new skills even if no degree or certificate (55%).
Military spouses were most focused on getting skills they could use no matter where they lived
Those who were not employed were more interested in a degree
All done with this step?
Scholarship Resources and financial aid
When do you ever let obstacles derail your plans? You don’t! So if the anticipated cost of a course, certification program, or degree add unnecessary strain to your finances, hit “pause” and explore scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Sure, there are more logistics involved and it may require a little more time before you can enroll, but it will be worth it if you don’t have to take out loans or pay for anything out-of-pocket.
Research focused on the military community has shown that spouse career opportunities are an important factor in service member retention.
Previous Hiring Our Heroes’ research (2017) told us that 81% of military spouses and their service members have discussed leaving the service, with the availability of career opportunities for both spouses cited as one of the top deciding factors.
On a scale of 1-10, military spouses ranked equal employment opportunity as very important to their decision making process.
Almost half of military spouses with a graduate/professional degree have seriously discussed leaving the military service with their spouse to support their work or career.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Spouse Education and Career Opportunities
SECO Scholarship Finder
Search for financial assistance resources and professional development opportunities offered specifically to military spouses and family members.
Google Search for Scholarships
Search for “scholarships” + “[your discipline/desired skill]” – Review the search results and determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Helps military spouses pay for school with scholarships, pay for licensing and fees, and fund your business.
All done with this step?
Determining your return on investment for upskilling
Additional education and skill development take time and money, so you’ll want the best return on your investment. This is another opportunity to play the long game. Do your research to ensure your desired training or degree program will lead to increased skills or a new skill set, and have a clear understanding of your potential for promotion, salary increases, and overall career progression.
Overall, military spouses were more interested in HR specialist, office supervisor, and market research analyst positions, and less in IT support professional and software developer positions.
|500Overall||Some College or|
|4-year degree||Graduate or|
|Human Resources Specialist||52||57||54||47|
|Market Research Analyst||48||38||39||49|
|IT Support Professional||25||33||34||18|
Researching the Return on Your Investment
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The EP program develops information about the labor market for the nation as a whole for 10 years in the future.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Browse jobs by field or see careers in the fastest growing or highest paying fields.
Explore the Labor Market
Learn about current labor market conditions, employment forecasts and salaries in the geographic location where your service member will be stationed.
All done with this step?
Selecting a program and getting started
Identifying a program of study or a skill to learn or strengthen, selecting a course or college to enroll in, and figuring out how to pay for it all are only the first steps in your upskilling journey. See your educational or training program to the finish line by setting yourself up for success as a student.
Keys to Student Success as a Military Spouse or Partner
- Consider military life-related obstacles and create a plan. Before your program or training begins, review program requirements and timelines. Pay particular attention to any in-person interaction that is required as your military life may require you to consider additional obstacles, such as upcoming deployments, TDYs or PCS moves.
- Communicate your needs to your partner/family. Participating in additional schooling or training will cause a temporary shift in your home life as you build in time to complete your course of study. Share how others can help you be successful, whether that be by providing extra support, accountability, and/or encouragement. Develop solutions to military-related obstacles during your conversations with your partner.
- Set up your study space. Ensure you have a quiet place to learn and access your school and training materials. If your home is not conducive to learning due to space or distractions, consider a place away from home such as the library, a coffee shop, or a space on-site at your school.
- Carve out distraction-free time for learning. You may have to be intentional with your learning time, especially if you have competing obligations such as a job or family. This may mean dedicating study time in the early mornings or late in the evening, or securing child care to ensure you stay on track with your schooling.
- Create and stick to a schedule. Your program of study may be time-sensitive, or you may have a goal in mind for when you would like to complete training. A schedule can help you balance your schooling with your work and family and help you make time for physical activity and to maintain social connections.
- Delegate or streamline household tasks and chores. There are only so many hours in a day. Make time for your education by cutting back or creating efficiencies with household tasks by enlisting the help of others such as your partner or temporarily hiring help from outside of your home.
- Make time for your health and wellness. Maximize your learning by continuing to eat well, getting regular exercise, and ensuring you get enough sleep.
- Take advantage of support services and resources offered through your school or training organization. Seek opportunities for extra support through tutors, advisors, and study groups. Additional learning aids, such as study guides, may also be available.
Aligning coursework with family needs
Balancing your education with your family may be a new challenge for you, albeit one that can have a long-lasting positive impact on your family. Discuss how and for how long your schooling will impact your daily routines, and find ways to support one another while you complete your education.
The majority of Military Spouse Career Journeys survey respondents were parents of dependent children.
2 out of 3 respondents were parents of children 18 and under