Getting A Job On A Military Base

There are too many job opportunities on military bases to name-everything from typical fast food jobs to high-paying Civil Service positions. The kinds of employment opportunities open include what are called “appropriated fund” positions that are funded via yearly congressional budgets, and “nonappropriated fund” jobs which are paid by other agencies are not specifically listed in a congressional budget.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick.

Civil Service jobs would fall under “appropriated fund” work, and a job opening at an on-base shop or movie theater run by AAFES are good examples of “non-appropriated fund” positions.

That distinction may be unimportant to some, but when you begin applying for on-base jobs you will see phrases like “appropriated fund position” or “nonappropriated fund position” listed prominently in the job description-it’s good to know what these terms mean to avoid confusion at application time. Both types of jobs are available to qualified applicants at military bases stateside and overseas.

Job applications on military bases are not collected in a centralized fashion-you don’t apply via a central office, or use a standardized form. In the case of appropriated fund Civil Service jobs, testing may be required. Some on-base jobs are listed through typical “apply here” websites including or Others may be listed on Still others may be listed locally via base communications, bulletin boards, official or unofficial web pages, etc.

When you apply for a job on a military base, you may be asked for information about your “sponsor”. This is a question asked when military dependents or spouses are applying for on-base work. “Who’s your sponsor” basically means a request for the name of the currently serving military member in the family assigned to that particular base. That question won’t apply to all applicants, and can be a source of confusion to those not familiar with the custom.

Spouses and dependents of those who are assigned to the base they want to work at may find local hiring incentives offered that aren’t available to those who are simply looking for work but aren’t related to someone assigned to the base. That’s not always true, but when it is true there may be an advantage for those competing for a specific job.

Some jobs may require a security clearance. That isn’t as much of an issue as you might think-in the past most military members have been required to have a “Secret” level security clearance at a minimum. In some cases, even the most basic types of jobs may require this depending on the nature of the military installation. A job as a coffee vendor at the Pentagon may require the kind of background check you would never be asked to submit to as an employee at the local cafe.

But these practices are, in many cases, formalities. If you are asked to consent to a background check, be ready to answer questions that might require you to do a bit of preparation. Do you remember your first street address? The whereabouts of an ex-spouse? Brushing up on your personal history can help in such cases.

In a future article, we’ll look at some of the specific opportunities for on-base employment out there-including some that aren’t as well-known such as teaching gigs, counselor jobs, and even librarian work.

About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News