Military Spouse Employment Preference

photo/Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
USAF photo by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski.

Military spouses face unique employment challenges. Depending on the military member’s career choices, spouses may have the luxury of settling in one area for many years, or the challenge of relocating once every three years or sooner. Holding down a job in such conditions can be difficult, but there is help from the military in the form of hiring preference for spouses who seek certain types of on-base employment.

Best of all, spouse hiring preference includes help in getting Department of Defense civilian jobs. That means career choices aren’t limited to AAFES jobs, openings with the base Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department, or simple entry-level hiring.

Spouse preference extends to jobs available in “appropriated fund” and “non-appropriated fund” positions, and you may find that GS-rated jobs are available all the way up to GS-15 ratings.


But what does a spouse need in order to qualify and apply for preference?

According to the official site for the Department of Defense’s Military One Source, those who are eligible will meet the following criteria:

  • The spouse of an active-duty service member (including Coast Guard or full-time National Guard)
  • Moving with your spouse to a new duty station.
  • Married before your spouse or partner’s reporting date.
  • Applying for a position within commuting distance of your spouse or partner’s new duty station.
  • Ranked among the best-qualified candidates for the position.

Applicants should choose carefully when applying for and accepting employment using military spouse preference because you can only use that preference once per duty station.

According to Military One Source, “If you accept a continuing position — selections made without a time limitation and requiring a fixed work schedule — you can use your military spouse preference only once at each new duty station.”

However, applicants will not “use up” spouse preference under the following circumstances:

…if you accept a non-continuing position, which doesn’t have a time limitation and a fixed work schedule requirement. These include temporary, flexible, or permanent positions with an intermittent schedule.

Applying for spouse preference overseas has additional requirements, we will cover them in a separate article.


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


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