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22 Mar 2024

Spouse Education and Career Opportunities: What is SECO?

The military spousal unemployment rate has historically been higher than the civilian unemployment rate; in fact, over the past decade, the military spousal unemployment rate reached 21% (Office of People Analytics, 2022), which was almost 4 times higher than the civilian rate the same year (5.3%; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). Because finding stable employment as a military spouse can be difficult due to military lifestyle (e.g., frequent relocation), spouses may opt for being stay-at-home parents until their partner leaves the service. For example, in a 2021 survey of active-duty spouses, almost half of participants (45%) reported their main reasons for not working were caring for children not in school or daycare (Office of People Analytics, 2022). These periods of unemployment may cause gaps within resumes, making it difficult to find local, professional positions. This struggle may feel immense and isolating - that’s where the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program comes in!

SECO was established by the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide career guidance and education opportunities to military spouses worldwide. Many of the resources SECO offers can be used for active-duty spouses or transitioned spouses (i.e., spouses whose partner has transitioned out and is no longer active-duty military), such as resume builders, job finders, and education opportunities. Our goal with this piece is to share about the SECO program, why programs like SECO are helpful, and the services SECO offers.

What is SECO?

The SECO program provides education, career guidance, and tools and resources to aid military spouses in their career development or in pursuing their education. The program is available to all spouses of Service members with an active-duty status, along with National Guard and Reserve Components. Additionally, spouses who have been separated from active duty and National Guard/Reserve Components for less than a year or surviving spouses of military members who died while on active-duty are eligible.

Depending on a Service member’s military orders, their spouses are often required to pick up or pause their lives at any given moment. This can be very stressful for spouses, as they must leave their current place of employment and support systems, sometimes with little to no notice. Worries in navigating leaving a job, finding new career opportunities, or trying to continue an educational career may leave a spouse feeling overwhelmed with questions, and feel there are no solutions in sight. SECO was created to help spouses in finding exact solutions for these very worries.

A DoD Self-Service Logon is required in order to access the many affiliated sites connected to SECO. Upon creation of a SECO account, spouses will be given access to many tools, resources, and interactive features to explore their specific interests.

The Value of SECO

As the acronym implies, the SECO program has many opportunities to achieve a spouse's education and career goals. Below you can see some resources SECO has to offer in both education and career guidance, respectively:


Career Guidance

  • MySECO Resume Builder gives access to tools and resources that are geared towards building a competitive resume. This includes learning modules on resume formats, getting your resume professionally reviewed, and other personalized support to help best describe your qualifications and skills.
  • Upon creation of your SECO account, you will be offered a free year of Linkedin Premium to aid in job searching, networking, and more.
  • Career Assessments provides access to a variety of self-assessments to learn more about yourself and what careers may be of interest to you.
  • Research Occupations (CareerOneStop) is a search engine that provides information on the latest government statistics on occupational wages and employment trends in a given area.
  • Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Job Search allows you to search jobs based on job title, keywords, and location. This can be beneficial when looking to obtain employment prior to arriving at your next duty station.
  • SECO Coaching Packages offers specialized consultations with career coaches to help you succeed in your education or career.

Additionally, SECO offers many in-depth articles on topics related to military life (e.g., PCS-ing, managing deployments, transition preparation) and support (e.g., financial readiness, starting a business, negotiating a salary). The SECO program is a one-stop site to guide and support spouses through any and every stage of their career or professional development. With the mobility of military life, it is essential spouses are aware of important resources available to them. If you need additional guidance on using any tool or resource within the SECO website, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and ask to speak to a SECO career coach.

Here's what one future military spouse found out when they learned about the SECO program:

"Knowing what my future holds as a future military spouse, I have experienced a lot of stress and anxiety not knowing what my next step might be [professionally]. After learning about SECO, I now have a sense of peace because they can help me to find jobs or give me a chance at working towards a master’s degree if I choose to within the next few years. If that is my choice, they provide opportunities to find scholarships and loans, along with a way to find the school and program that best fits my needs. They also provide access to an immense number of extra resources/programs that I have already begun to save for when my partner and I enter that certain stage of life. As a future military spouse, I plan to use the resources that SECO provides as well as share with my surrounding spousal community."

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