My friend Jill over at Keep Calm and Have a Cosmo wrote Lame Limits in response to the article 12 Great Jobs for Military Spouses featured in a Jacksonville, North Carolina online publication. I appreciated Jill’s take on the piece and I wanted to formulate my own thoughts on the topic of military spouse employment. As we’re preparing for our next move, the subject is timely. The author, Melba Newsome (a Care.com contributor according to the byline), begins the article with a brief overview of The Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), which is working to provide partnerships between military spouses and businesses. Ms. Newsome also mentions the recently announced goal of Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, through Joining Forces, to establish license portability for military spouses by 2014. However, the list of jobs compiled by Ms. Newsome with the help of MSEP fails to showcase the opportunities available for spouses with undergraduate, graduate, and terminal degrees. Furthermore, many spouses in the military community have found the list to be insulting and reminiscent of a time when women were not encouraged to work outside of the home. What are the 12 great jobs for military spouses, you ask?
- Direct selling
- Child care and babysitting
- Selling handcraft goods online
- Tutoring and substitute teaching
- Errand runner
- Catering and/or cake making
- Gift basket creator
- Personal trainer
- Administrative assisting
- IT specialist
- Tax preparer
- Consistent ‘temp’ work
Now all of the above 12 jobs are fine sources of employment and many can turn into a lucrative business with determination, focus, and hard work. And I imagine that Ms. Newsome and MSEP were taking the portability of a career into consideration when compiling the list. But to limit the list to mainly jobs that do not require a college degree is quite insulting. And with many military spouses having a graduate degree under their belt (myself included), the list likely isn’t even relevant. Instead of telling military spouses to aim for entry-level positions with each move, we need to rally for change in certification and licensure requirements and encourage military spouses to partake in post-secondary education and training.
I am not demanding special treatment, far from it. The issue of portable careers is not limited to the military community – there are many industries that require multiple moves for an upward career and spouses find themselves in the same boat as us in the military community. So it is an issue that we as country should examine. When highly-educated spouses with careers in education, medicine, law, etc… are caught up in the red tape of state certification and licensure, it hurts the individual family, it hurts the economy, and it hurts our country. I understand this isn’t an easy fix but we can’t continue to put our head in the sand. And we don’t need to be encouraging spouses to only consider careers that do not require advanced education nor have much upward mobility. We can do better.