A major topic of discussion for military spouses is career.

What is a career?

A career is defined as:
An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
But how do we define a significant period of time in a person's life? What constitutes significant when you factor in relocation?

Typically, when we think of the term career, we conjure the image of stability, security, and any mobility that comes to mind is generally in the upward direction. 


What options are there for military spouses wishing to pursue their own career? 

I tend to think like an idealist. My belief is that a military spouse (man, woman, or trans) can achieve anything they put their minds to.

However, I also tend to be pragmatic. So, while I want everyone to achieve their dreams, I am aware that this task is not always easy, and Milspouses are affected by a variety of factors that may impede their professional aspirations.

It's not to say that there are not some incredible Milspouses out there. I have personally met a physician, several entrepreneurs, and countless business owners. Not to mention that there are many Milspouses making a full-time careers of raising children from home and sometimes even providing their education.

I think it takes a special kind of person to be a successful Milspouse, who is able to find enrichment and satisfaction from their own professional and personal objectives. Successful Milspouses tend to be those that are driven, self-sufficient, independent, and possess the incredible willpower to summon forth self-esteem and confidence when they need it.

In reality, these are the qualities that it takes for any couple to succeed together. When two partners each have a career, it requires flexibility, compassion, and some amount of sacrifice. And let's face it, when it comes to the military, Milspouses have to be able to adapt, because it's much more difficult for our service members to be flexible in their careers. The parameters that exist in the military rarely exist in the civilian sector.


What are my career options? 

People change careers frequently throughout their lives, and to some extent, it is a part of healthy personal growth and development. It's about challenging ourselves to accept change and thrive under pressure. But let's face it, I have only been in my field for a short period of time, and I am not ready to give it up quite yet.

As a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, I have less than 300 hours to go before I can submit my application to sit for my licensing boards. I accrue anywhere from 25-40 hours a week. This leaves me with anywhere between 2-4 months left before I can apply for licensure. In California, the licensing process is long and drawn out. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to process my application and sit for both required exams to prove that I am fit for licensure.

But I won't be a resident of California in a year's time. By then, I will be residing in Florida.

I have been debating for awhile if I would stick around or possibly even fly back to sit for the exams, but I think I have finally come to the decision that I would rather get licensed in Florida. First, Florida requires the National Exam, which will make my license more marketable in other states. Second, I don't know that I will ever come back to California, which is the only state that does not use the National Exam. This means licenses from here tend to be difficult to transfer to other states, because California, while possessing the most stringent and rigorous standards for accruing hours, does not test applicants in the same way that the rest of the Nation does.

Becoming licensed is critical. Not just to my career, but to my personal sense of accomplishment. Being licensed will enable me to start my own practice without supervision or the oversight of an employer, but it will also open the door to public-sector and for-profit organizations that provide psychotherapy. As an intern, especially an out-of-state intern, the first is impossible, and the second becomes unlikely. Plus, being licensed means that I can even apply for jobs within the DoD.


What are my goals for the next 18 months?

  1. I will finish my hours.
  2. I will start communicating with the State of Florida to determine the eligibility requirements for transferring my hours. 
  3. I will apply for jobs as an intern in Florida. 
  4. I will apply for licensure as soon as I have finished any additional hours, training courses, or continuing education classes. 
  5. I will sit for the National licensing boards. 
  6. I will apply for jobs as a licensed mental health provider in Florida. 
Where my career takes me after that, I don't know, but for now, this is my game plan. If I come back to California, then I already know my hours will count because I have accrued them here, and California generally accepts the National Exam. This plan is much better than my original one to take both the National and the CA State exams, with their hefty fees and incredibly dense study materials.

If you are a Milspouse and worried about what is going to happen with your career, educate yourself about your next duty station. Find out if your certifications, degrees, or licenses are transferable. If not, figure out what you can do to meet the requirements of your new home. Create a game plan! You can make it work, you just have to know what all of the moving parts look like in order to put them together and make them function well. If you are flexible, your career can be too.

You can do it!