Super 6 - Expat Careers for the Supporting Spouse

6 Expats Careers for the Supporting Spouse, To Stop those Trailing Blues

The term ‘trailing spouse’ is ugly but evocative. It conjures up a picture of a beholden spouse (usually a wife) literally being dragged along by their domineering partner. It stinks of second class.  Obviously, hopefully, life and relationships aren’t like that for the vast majority of expats but the common use of the phrase underlines basic prejudices.  I believing reframing the term to ‘Supportive Spouse’ would better, after all only one partner has given up their job, alongside their friends and their family.   

The ‘supportive spouse’ is there by choice, not being dragged.  They are in partnership, not in a Dictatorship.  They are not second class.  As such the couple is better placed to address the challenges facing them together, as equals.

Expat career opportunities

One of the largest challenges for the supportive spouse is their career.  Often one’s career, again alongside family and friends, is at the core of your identity. To lose all three is confidence suicide.  Getting back on the career ladder or changing careers is, for most, very important and extremely difficult. 

The good news is that it is getting easier, thanks to the rise of nomadic working.  Type the term into a search engine and you will see that the opportunities to move abroad and work remotely, has taken off in the past 5 years.  This is a trend that is set to continue and it work perfectly for the supportive spouse.

One such site highlights the opportunities for a formal nomadic career nicely. The careers are not exhaustive, as you would imagine, but they offer a wide range of jobs for a myriad of different skills. See for yourself.

However good these websites and opportunities are I would also recommend you take the time and opportunity to really think what you want to do or achieve. Get coaching. Dream a little. There are few times in your life when you have the chance to reinvent yourself and be creative, this could be one.  

Here are few ideas: 

1. Freelance - Online

As the world moves further online, so does the opportunities to create a business through the internet. With various online payment methods and easy website construction even for those who aren't the most technology-savvy. You only need to start listening to one of the thousands of entrepreneur podcasts to get inspiration on the variety of businesses people have started online. Some of the more popular are: 
·         Copy Writer / Blogger
·         Graphic Designer
·         Programmer
·         Language Teacher

2. Virtual Assistant

If I had my time again - this is what I would initially start out to do. There are lots of training programs online to help give you the skill set and marketing advice you need, and then you can specialise in a particular area that interests you. For example if you are from an accounting background, you could become a virtual assistant for accountants who have just become self- employed and need some additional support but don't have the money to employee their own PA. If you were in teaching, you could work for school inspectors, or facilitators who may have had their own PA when working as a head teacher or another role within a school, but now find themselves self-employed without that support. If you came from an art background, put together a portfolio of the items you could do to support artists with their admin and so the opportunities are vast everyone needs support with their admin in some way or form.
Top VA's in the UK are paid £50 - £60 an hour, and in the US around $60.  

3. Digital marketing/Social Media

As a Virtual Assistant you may also include digital marketing and Social media in your skill set, or you may just want to solely specialise in it. There are always new platforms starting, so it is easy to pick one and learn all about it (for example become a specialists  LinkedIn and you could then offer to support fellow expats in getting their profiles up to date, run offline and online workshops. As with the VA you can become very niche, servicing a market that interests you.

Expat career

4. Passion / Education

Many expats have used their time abroad to become an expert in a craft or skill they really enjoy, whether that is baking, sowing, gardening. Or take some time to retrain in a professional capacity - such as a teacher, or upskill through doing a Masters or Doctorate.
There are lots of online courses to further develop your skills, the Open University being one, or investigate your local university. 

5. Remote Working

Never forget your old career, it maybe that an old employer or similar company within the industry is happy for you to work remotely. There are increasing opportunities in larger companies to work away from your desk, with websites springing up catering to "freelance mum" offering either part time roles or project led opportunities.

Expat Careers

6. Tutor / Mentor 

Give your skills and time to support the next generation. Tuta-me, enables students and tutors to digitally connect with each other and arrange for a meeting in a time and place that suits both parties. The app streamlines processes by making it a paperless option for students looking for tutors. But there are plenty of similar organisation that you can give your time too. 

Expat Partner