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Military spouse preference: What is it and how does it help?

Moving your career each time your spouse gets orders can be exhausting.  But what if …

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Moving your career each time your spouse gets orders can be exhausting. 

But what if you could make that process easier?

You do have a unique hiring path opportunity to take advantage of at each duty station.

As a military spouse, you may be eligible for something called military spouse employment preference or MSP, for short. This program allows you the opportunity to apply for federal jobs — which means you aren’t limited to positions that may be temporary like seasonal hiring. 

Learn more below about this program designed to help military spouses gain employment during a military spouse’s relocations.

This post will cover what it is, how it works, and why milspouses like you don’t have to give up on a career when marrying into the military.

What is military spouse employment preference?

Military Spouse Preference (MSP) is a Department of Defense (DoD) program created to lessen career interruption for spouses who have to relocate via PCS. It’s not just for any job, either. It’s a program that allows spouses to be noncompetitively considered for well-paid government positions.

Who is eligible?

Related: 5 military spouse employment resources every milspouse should use

It’s important to note that eligibility doesn’t entitle you to a job with the federal government. You’ll still need to apply and meet qualifications and additional requirements like a background investigation.

You’re eligible if you’re a:

  • Spouse of a service member with a 100% service-related disability
  • Widow/widower of a service member who was killed on active duty
  • Active duty spouse (including Coast Guard or full-time National Guard)

Recent changes to military spouse employment preference 

Last April, the DoD stopped using Program S, also known as the Priority Placement Program (PPP) as a way to register military spouses for federal hiring preferences.

With the former program, military spouses had to go in person to an office to register for MSP. Then a spouse had to stick to jobs that best matched their educational experience and professional backgrounds. 

Now, you can use the application process on instead of applying in person for the MSP program. This allows spouses to get a head start on job hunting before PCSing into a new duty station.

Under the new program, you also don’t have to stick to one particular occupational series. As long as the posting offers MSP (you’ll see a green icon with a wedding ring), then you may apply. 

How does it work?

Related: How to take advantage of military spouse benefits

This Department of Defense program is intended to help spouses get employment both in the United States and overseas duty stations. These jobs can be found at

To get started, you’ll need to create an account. You may also need some specific documents.

You may need: 

  • Marriage documentation
  • Your spouse’s active military orders (copy)
  • DD-214 (only if discharged under certain conditions)
  • DD 1300 (widows/widowers only)

These documents should be uploaded and submitted through The forms may be required with certain job applications. 

To get started:

  • When applying on, confirm your identity
  • Look for jobs with a green circle icon with wedding rings
  • Jobs may be temporary or permanent and in a variety of disciplines

You can apply for as many jobs as you wish through the program, but MSP may be used only once at each duty station unless used for temporary and term positions.

It’s important to note that if a job is offered and declined by you, then you can’t use MSP at that same duty station again.

Remember: Agencies aren’t required to use this hiring method. For more details, contact your local Department of Defense civilian personnel office.

Use your benefit

While MSP doesn’t guarantee you a job, it offers another avenue to pursue when it comes to maintaining your momentum in a career. Plus, once you get a government position, if you’re good at what you do, it makes it easier to transfer and work in another federal job at your next duty station.

Not to mention, the benefits of a federal government job can be enticing. As a federal employee, you may receive benefits like: 

  • Competitive salary
  • Health insurance
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Flexible spending accounts

When it comes time to start looking for your next job before you PCS, consider adding a federal government job search into the mix, too. Some of the highest in-demand positions right now include computer science, nursing, mathematical statistics, civil engineering, chemistry, auditing, and more.

Above all, when it comes to job hunting as a military spouse, don’t forget to utilize all of your career resources. You have access to career coaches and computers at most military installations. 

Need to freshen up your skills? Consider attending a professional and personal development conference. Check out these six military conferences for spouses coming up in 2020 here.

Don’t forget to check in with your military installation’s career center for help with job searches, resume writing, interviewing practice, career workshops, and more! 

Read more from Sandboxx News:

This article was originally published 8/28/2020

Feature image: Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash



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