How to Prepare for an Overseas Contracting Job

OCONUS

Having a security clearance can open doors to exciting and unique jobs which uncleared job seekers aren’t eligible to pursue. Working overseas as a contractor can be an appealing and rewarding option for adventurous job seekers.

Applying for overseas jobs isn’t always an easy decision. Overseas jobs vary considerably, and it is wise to get as much information about the job requirements and expectations before signing on the dotted line. Depending on the country or region, special consideration may be necessary before moving forward.

Living and working overseas can be the opportunity of a lifetime, and having overseas experience on a resume can increase credibility and value as a professional. But deciding to work in another country requires planning, careful consideration and asking the right questions.

A few things to consider before deciding if an overseas contracting job is for you:

  • Conditions can be dangerous in many overseas jobs. How prepared are you to manage the risk of personal danger?
  • Are you prepared to be away from home, friends and family for an extended period of time?
  • Are you healthy enough to live in an area with harsh living conditions?
  • Get to know the culture and language of the country you are going to live in.
  • Network with other contractors and get firsthand accounts of what to expect.
  • Be prepared for safety briefings, training (weapons), and other relevant information on the risks, terrain, and mission.
  • Be mindful that here are risks for U.S. citizens working overseas. It is important to get all the facts and avoid assumptions.

questions to ask before accepting employment: (Be very clear about these issues.)

  • Is the contracting company a reputable one, and are you comfortable with the information they are providing about the job?
  • What is the base pay? What are the employee benefits?
  • Is there hostile duty pay? What is the compensation above base pay?
  • What hours are you expected to work?
  • What are the job responsibilities in the Statement of Work?
  • Are weapons required for your job? Will training be provided beforehand?
  • What health considerations will there be, and what vaccines may be required?

Checklist for Overseas Employment

  • Passport and Visa
  • Immunizations
  • Personal Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Family Care Plan
  • Direct Deposit for Pay
  • Review/Update Health and Life Insurance
  • Physical Exam
  • Personal Medications (at least a 90 day supply)
  • Extra Pair of Eye Glasses
  • Telephone Calling Card
  • Personal Credit Card
  • Stationery and Stamps
  • Radio (battery powered)
  • Any Special Clothes for the Environment
  • Blank Checks
  • Local Currency
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Medical Tags
  • Personal Hygiene Items (tooth paste, deodorant, etc.)
  • Equipment Required to Perform the Job- Computer, cellphone, or other job-related items

Being prepared and informed will give the overseas worker the ability to focus on the job at hand, gain valuable experience which may turn out to be the greatest experience of their career.

Additional information for those interested in working in contract positions overseas:

U.S. State Department Guidelines for overseas workers.

Internal Revenue Service Guidelines for U.S. taxpayers working in foreign countries.

Financial and Banking information for contractors working overseas.

Guidelines for U.S. citizens living and working overseas.

Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who works as a professional freelance writer, commentator, and blogger; as well as a public affairs, website content and social media manager for the Department of Defense.