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Want to teach in a military school overseas? The process can be lengthy, but rewarding

Military spouses searching for jobs overseas are often faced with limited options. Host-nation restrictions dictate who can work where on the economy and competition is usually fierce for the small number of professional on-base positions.

Since there are American schools in nearly every overseas military community, many spouses set their sights on jobs with the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity. DODEA operates the Department of Defense Dependents Schools on overseas military bases, located in 12 countries in Europe and Asia, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. The agency also operates schools on bases in seven U.S. states.

In all, DODEA employs nearly 13,000 people, including 8,700 educators.

But navigating the long, hard road to becoming a DODDS teacher isn’t easy.

Many applicants, like Paula Robinson, a Marine Corps spouse in Stuttgart, Germany, try to get a head start by applying online before they arrive at their duty station.

Robinson has more than a dozen years experience as a teacher in Texas, California and Virginia. She launched her bid to become a DODDS teacher about seven months before her family moved to Stuttgart, where there is a high school, an elementary school and two combined elementary/middle schools.

“I have always worked, so not applying for a position here didn't even cross my mind,” Robinson said. “The online application is not difficult in most areas and it really saves time being able to upload transcripts and documents.”

At the same time, Robinson said applying to be a DODDS teacher was one of the longest hiring processes she’s ever encountered.

Robinson hit her first road bump when it came to recommendations. She needed at least three principals she had formerly worked for to fill out an online recommendation form, which she said was cumbersome and time-consuming.

She also had trouble interpreting DODEA language. For example, some of their job descriptions didn’t match up with her coursework or experience.

Finally Robinson said, she wished she would have applied as a stateside hire rather than a local hire. She feels like that would have expedited the process.

“I don't think anyone looked at my application, or even knew I existed until I walked into the school,” Robinson said.

It’s not clear how many military spouses work for DODEA. The agency did not return multiple requests to comment on the topic.

The Federal Education Association, a union representing DODEA educations, has approximately 5,800 members worldwide. While the organization doesn’t track how many are military spouses, spokesperson Gary Hritz says there are spouses employed in just about every job category, including classroom teachers, educational aides, secretaries and cafeteria workers.

“DODEA does its best to help military spouses who are seeking employment and fully supports the hiring of military spouses, provided of course that they meet the qualifications and all hiring practices are followed properly,” Hritz said.

The DODEA websites are chock full of information on jobs and the hiring process. To get started, go to and click on the regional and human resources links for details. Positions are also listed on, which recently had 46 different DODDS positions listed, some of which have multiple openings.

DODEA also accepts applications for many positions on a continuous basis, and then pulls from those applicants when a spot opens.

An easier route into the school system can often be non-educator jobs. Much of the support staff – front office workers, and others – are local hires, including spouses who PCS in.

For Robinson, the best avenue ended up being to go straight into one of the Stuttgart DODDS elementary schools. While she had originally applied for work on the DODEA website, she was advised at the school to re-apply through USAJOBS. Shortly later, she was hired as a substitute.

“I love what I do and really enjoy each day I am in a classroom,” she said.

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