Friday, 1 September 2017

How to Get a Job on an American Military Base Overseas

Updated 12 September 2018

Assuming you don't want to join the military, there are loads of ways to get a job on an American military base overseas.

Basic Info about working on Base
Pros and Cons of Federal Jobs
Federal jobs offer many perks and benefits such as long paid vacation, housing, tuition reimbursement, free or discounted schooling for your children, moving allowance, flights, and more.

Of course there are negative aspects to working for the government as well. There's lots of paperwork, red tape, things seems to take forever and sometime with furloughs you'll get unpaid leave or the start date of your contract could get push back.

The Federal Resume
Like no other resume, the federal resume and application packet will get you ready to work for the government. Expect lots of paperwork. There are tons of guides available out there to help you and I highly recommend you read them. Don't think that a normal resume is going to cut it. You will not get the job unless you follow the rules.  Federal Government Jobs is also a good place to start with.

There are also federal resume writing services out there. Expect to pay about $700 for them to write a federal resume for you. If you have base access already, check with ACS or AFRC. They usually run federal resume writing workshops once a month.

If you have a foreign degree, you will need to go through a degree evaluation service. Here are the ones the government accepts. My advice is to pick on that has been an NACES member for a few decades.

Advice for Getting a Job on Base
Image source
Network, network, network. I can't say it enough. It's all about knowing the right people, and being in the right place at the right time. If you know the right people, they can tell you where and when you need to be. Not on LinkedIn? Might be time to sign up. Make a name card / business card and hand it out to everyone you might. You never know who will know someone. Don't forget to follow-up on your connections and always, always thank them for their time even if they weren't able to help you.

Veteran's Preferences
If you're a veteran, be sure to take advantage of the fact that more jobs are open to you. You get different preferences due to the category that you're in. Feds Hire Vets and eBenefits are great websites to start with. Facebook has some great resources too. I highly recommend checking out the following groups.
Taxes and Visas
If you are able to get a SOFA visa, then you will not need to pay local taxes on your income. However, not all of these jobs will get you the necessary paperwork to live and work in a foreign country. Some are only open to dependents while the military member is in country and therefore their dependents get their SOFA visa through the service member. Make sure you ask and see whether or not they sponsor visas.

Keep in mind that you may not be eligible for a SOFA visa even if you are an American. Many of these jobs require you to be an ordinarily resident in the US. The problem is that it's a very grey area, but the more ties you have to that country, the less likely you are to be able to get a SOFA visa. Examples of ties are:
  • Any visa besides a tourist or SOFA visa (such as a work, study, resident, etc)
  • Marriage to a local citizen
  • Children attend local schools
  • Paying local taxes
  • Buying a house or apartment there
You can find more information on page 62 in this doc and on this site. Even if you are granted a visa, they can change their minds in the future. Here's an example of someone who had to pay six figures in back taxes to Germany and some contractors in Korea who had their visas revoked.

Types of Federal Government Jobs
There are many types of federal government jobs overseas. Here is a basic overview of the main ones. For the most part you're going to have to be an American citizen or green card holder.

Banks and Credit Unions
Banks and credit unions on base often have really good hours and are enjoyable places to work. Check out Community Bank and Navy Federal

Contractor Jobs
You're not working directly for the government when you have a contractor job. The government is their customer (i.e. they work for the government) and you work for the contracting company. They can range from meh jobs to amazing jobs. There are tons of contracting companies out there.

Lists of Contractors
Popular Contractors
DODEA Teaching and Staff Positions
You'll be working at DODEA schools, which are on American military bases. If you're a certified teacher, then you can get a teaching job on base. Math and science teachers will have an easier job finding a job than elementary school teachers. You can also work on the staff, such as being a secretary, school nurse, or even principal. They advertise on USA Jobs.

GS Jobs
You'll be working for the government on the General Schedule. They also mainly advertise on USA Jobs, but be sure to check the link section below to find out other places to look. GS jobs have 15 grades and each grade has 10 steps. Here's more information about GS jobs and their requirements. If you're looking at specific branches such as Army Civilian Services, you can also find that there.

Military AutoSource
Ok, you're going to be selling cars and working long hours, probably weekends too. There's definitely a learning curve. I've been told that the first year you don't make much. Maybe $20,000 but once you learn the ropes, the sky's the limit. They'll get you a SOFA visa and you'll get a ration card which gives you access to the commissary and BX/PX. Plus, you get to talk to super diverse people. The people working there are often retirees who want to stay in-country. They have jobs on their site.

NAF Jobs
These are Non-Appropriate Fund jobs. You can find out more information about NAF jobs here. They usually advertise on NAF Jobs or USA Jobs

There are a few universities that are strongly associated with the military and they often have jobs overseas, whether they be teaching, staff, or admin positions.
The USO is awesome. They really help service members and their families. It's a wonderful place to work because they are constantly doing outreach to the community. They post jobs on their site. 


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