Here Are the Top 10 Career Options for Military Spouses

Dover hosted the Spouse Symposium employment education event
Team Dover hosted the second annual Spouse Symposium employment education event March 7, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Jenne)

Government contracting, human resources and manufacturing are among the top 10 best career fields for military spouses, according to a new list released Wednesday.

The list, released by Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) and Hire Heroes USA, was compiled through interviews in July 2021 with more than 2,000 military spouses, some of whom are also members of NFCU. The company typically puts out annual “best of” lists, including a “best cities after service” in 2018.

To select the industries or jobs included in the new career rankings list, NFCU officials and experts with Hire Heroes USA combined information gathered through the interviews with information on which industries allow flexible hours, consistent location, flexible child care, competitive pay, a clear career path and a team-oriented environment, they said in a press release.

“This best careers list offers deeply-researched insights that this community can turn to for advice and direction as they take the next step in their employment journey,” Matt Vean, who leads commercial banking at NFCU, said in the release.

The study found that 13% of those interviewed are unemployed, while 43% said they are underemployed, a term typically used to describe holding a job that doesn’t require the experience or education a worker holds or, in many cases, the pay they feel they should receive based on work background.

Here are the top 10 career industries, according to the study.

1. Government and public administration. NFCU found this career field is a favorite based on its stability. About 46% of those interviewed who currently hold jobs in this field said they plan to stay until they retire. Top career paths in government and public administration include analyst, manager or supervisor, support worker or lawyer.

2. Business support and human resources. As a relatively new industry of interest for military spouses, these positions provide flexibility for military spouses when moving. This career path includes positions such as administrative assistant, analyst and recruiter. Additionally, 66% of spouses with careers in this field report that they've been in their position for two years.

3. Health care and social assistance. Military spouses are employed in the health-care field in positions such as nurse, therapist, dental hygienist and pharmacy technician. NFCU says this field is popular because it offers stability and competitive pay.

4. Educational services. NFCU lists educational services as a top career path for military spouses, because it offers work-life balance and stability. Teachers and instructors are two options in this career field, as well as education counselor and administrator.

5. Information technology. Spouses seeking stability and flexibility may find positions in the information technology field are for them. These career paths are increasing in popularity and include jobs like programmer, network analyst, database administrator or web developer.

6. Financial services. A career in financial services is popular among military spouses in urban areas and offers a stable career with competitive pay. More than half of the spouses employed in this industry agree that there is a clear path for advancement. If spouses work for a financial institution that understands the military lifestyle, they also may find it easier to keep their job as they move.

7. Defense contracting. Defense contracting gives military spouses a wide range of opportunities, including architect, project manager and engineer. The field also offers flexible hours and schedules as well as support for military families.

8. Community-based services. NFCU says this is the most popular field for spouses who are at least 55 years old. These jobs include general management, administrative support services and religious services -- all of which allow military spouses to achieve a work-life balance.

9. Retail and customer service. Retail offers spouses flexibility, something 34% of spouses said was the most important thing in a job. Additionally, careers in retail and customer service give military spouses flexible hours and schedules.

10. Manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs, such as welder, quality control inspector and production manager, offer competitive pay, flexibility and the opportunity to be creative.

-- Rebecca Alwine can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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