The Benefits of Working Overseas as a Contractor

Wherever your lust for overseas adventure leads you to, you’re sure to find contract opportunities and advantages to expanding your job search abroad.

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You’re no stranger to life in the fast lane. You’ve seen a piece or two of the world outside the USA while serving your country. It stands to reason you would consider continuing your career in it, sans uniform. Especially when you consider the benefits of working overseas, sans uniform.

Many overseas contracting opportunities can be found now throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As you might suspect, the competition for those jobs can be intense.

Being the worldly one you are, you also know that a typical day at the office in London, Brussels or Munich can be significantly different from one in Kabul, Baghdad or Manama. Choose your OCONUS professional poison wisely.

Whether your lust for an overseas job adventure leads towards fish and chips, chocolate and lederhosen or more in the direction of a highway to any number of danger zones, you’ll find that working overseas has definite benefits worth packing your bags.

You get to see more of the world.

You might initially think working overseas as a civilian is akin to winning the Powerball. You get paid, often quite well, to live abroad where your neighbors speak a foreign language and some of the greatest sightseeing can be found outside your own front door. Travel, adventure and the fluctuating value of the dollar await you. The excitement builds as you consider The World Tour Sans Uniform.

To a certain degree, working overseas is like winning the lottery. If you manage to snag a cooperative work schedule, and avoid bullets flying overhead, you can make a lifetime of priceless memories.

It won’t, however, be the picture perfect on-tour story you might hope it to be.

You’ll still have to work, and might encounter an interesting office schedule if your work involves liaison with offices back in the States. It might be 5:00 pm in your neck of the woods, but America is just waking up and your counterparts in the USA want to chat with you…at length. No happy hour for you!

If you want to cash in by working in one or more of the the danger zones of the world, there is also the potentially hazardous work environment to consider before boarding the plane.

Just like the good old days in uniform, you’ll also have to be physically fit and have your shots up to date. Depending on the location, you may even have to supply and restock your own anti-malaria medication.

Unlike the good old days, you probably won’t be issued a weapon even in the hot spots. Unless you are targeting a career in security or covert ops, you might consider jury-rigging your stapler into a low-grade weapon of mass destruction for self-defense as necessary.

 

You get paid well for seeing more of the world.

Aside from an intrinsic lust for travel and adventure, there is money, pure and simple. Highly skilled employees get paid exceptionally well for doing the same job they might have done in the military for far less. Your payday has come, gentle warrior.

Of course, what you earn in a base pay depends on your qualifications, the job in question and the employer who hires you.

Some surveys peg-starting salaries for positions in Iraq at $91,000 and $99,000 in Afghanistan. It is not uncommon to find opportunities paying well over $100,000 in base pay alone.

The buck doesn’t stop at base pay, either, making overseas employment even more enticing. There can also be a whole host of other monies and benefits involved as well, depending on the assignment:

 

• Hostile fire zone/danger pay

• Bonus incentives

• Cost of living allowances

• Housing allowances

• Transportation

• Paid meals

• Paid vacations, holidays and personal time off

• Medical/dental for yourself and family members

• Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

• 401(k) or similar retirement plans

• Flexible spending accounts

• Tuition Reimbursement

There are also potential tax benefits to working overseas in the form of what the IRS calls Foreign Earned Income. In 2010, up to $91,500 of one’s salary was tax-free. Additionally, housing expenses or a portion of them might also be exempt from federal taxes. For more information, visit the IRS on line or hire yourself a good CPA.

 

Overseas work experience looks good on your resume.

Aside from adventure, travel, pay and tax benefits, your career itself stands to benefit from working overseas. No one has to tell you that the world is getting smaller. By adding your overseas stint on your resume, you show future potential employers that you know how to deal with diverse cultures, ideas and people. In today’s job market, those aren’t qualities to be overlooked lightly.

 

Finding the Overseas Gigs

Being the savvy job seeker you are, you know you can tap into a powerful database of overseas (and stateside) job opportunities by joining the ClearanceJobs Cleared Network today.

What are you waiting for? With the requisite qualifications, a fearless attitude, the right connections and your ever so valuable security clearance, you have as great opportunity to land the job of your dreams overseas.

Janet Farley is the author of the Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Inc, 2012). She writes the JobTalk column for the Stars and Stripes newspapers.