How to Use Resume Keywords to Get Past Online Screeners

When was the last time you printed out your resume and handed it to an actual human being?

These days, many job seekers don’t interact with a real, live person until they get past an electronic screening round.

More companies are using automated applicant tracking systems (ATS), also known as talent management systems, to find job candidates.

While ATS systems are efficient, they eliminate resumes that are missing important keywords. That means you might get passed up for amazing job opportunities simply because your resume and cover letter aren’t optimized for an algorithm.

We asked career coaches and HR experts for tips on how to ensure your resume gets past auto-screeners programmed to look for certain keywords.

We’ll also cover other ways to make your digital resume stand out in the world of online job searching.

Play to the Resume Keywords

Resume keywords are specific words or short phrases that describe the skills, abilities, credentials and qualifications hiring managers are looking for in an ideal candidate for a particular position.

They are buzzwords, action verbs and concise language that pops on a resume and lands you closer to a job interview.

But how do you pick the right words and key phrases?

Here are a few tips.

Different Types of Resume Keywords

There are two main types of resume keywords employers and computer software programs look for: job-related skills and action verbs.

Job-Related Keywords

Job-related resume keywords describe your primary soft skills and hard skills.

This includes your certifications, industry knowledge, credentials, abilities and previous work experience.

  • Examples of soft skill keywords: communication skills, team building, detail-oriented.
  • Examples of hard skills: technical reporting, computer science, accounting, legal, sales, Microsoft Office Suite, WordPress, financial analysis, Quickbooks.

Action Verbs

Action verbs detail what you did or how you did it. They help describe your skills and accomplishments.

Here are some solid action words to use in a resume:

  • implemented
  • maximized
  • communicated
  • operated
  • streamlined
  • managed
  • integrated
  • overhauled
  • facilitated
  • orchestrated
  • navigated
  • improved
  • executed
  • optimized

Scrutinize Job Listings

You have a better chance of getting an interview If your resume uses keywords from the job description of your desired role.

It makes sense: Hiring managers want candidates with relevant skills that match the position.

You can take two different approaches:

  1. Examine job descriptions that are similar to the positions you’re applying for and identify patterns of keywords to incorporate into your resume.
  2. Tailor your resume to each job listing you apply to, using specific keywords and language from that job description.

If you draw inspiration from several job listings, make a list of common keywords and phrases. Refer back to the list as you revise your resume.

If you write a targeted resume, it should include precise language from the job ad. For example, if the company uses “BA,” you should too. If they say “bachelor’s degree,” go with that resume keyword instead.

Never plagiarize entire sentences or copy whole sections from job ads verbatim.

If you borrow too much content from the job description, your resume might get auto-rejected. Go for a more natural approach and sprinkle keywords from the job ad throughout your resume.

Review the Company’s Website for More Resume Keywords

You can learn a lot by reading a company’s About Us page.

How does the company describe itself? What’s the culture like? Which core values does it emphasize?

Reviewing a company website for keywords is a great way to personalize your resume and increase your odds of landing an interview.

You can also look for resume keywords on: 

  • The company’s LinkedIn page.
  • Employee LinkedIn profiles.
  • Industry organizations and trade websites.
  • Competitor websites.
  • Google “[industry] resume keywords” for more specific suggestions.

Searching Google is a great way to find resume keywords that align with your background and experience.

To find more inspiration, try searching for resume buzzwords based on:

  • The position (i.e. content creator keywords, journalist keywords, nursing assistant keywords)
  • The industry (i.e. advertising resume keywords)
  • Seniority (i.e. management keywords, entry-level position keywords)

Tips on Using Resume Keywords

You’ve found some great keywords — but now what?

Relax, you don’t need to rewrite your entire resume from scratch. Instead, here are a few tips to keep in mind when optimizing your resume.

Be as Specific as Possible

If you’re a pro at Photoshop or WordPress, call the programs out by name instead of saying “photo editing experience” or “worked with content management systems.”

Sprinkle Them In

Don’t just cram as many keywords as possible into the skills section of your resume. Spread them throughout the document. Integrate them naturally into your resume summary statement and past job descriptions. You can also create a separate “relevant skills” or “core competencies” section that lists out relevant keywords.

Don’t Lie

This is obvious, but don’t include keywords unless you have the skills and experience to back them up. You might sneak past the ATS, but lying on your resume won’t fly with the hiring manager.

Mix It Up

Include a variety of job-related resume keywords and active verbs. Consider mixing in synonyms of keywords you’ve already used. For example, instead of writing “created weekly production reports” twice, you can try “facilitated technical paperwork.”

Add Keywords to Your Email and Cover Letter

It never hurts to use some power words and industry buzzwords in your email and/or cover letter to the hiring manager. If a job posting instructs you to include a specific phrase in the email subject line, absolutely do it. Your resume may get screened out otherwise.

Adding a skills section is another good way to call attention to specific talents and tools recruiters are looking for during the hiring process.

The Old One-Page Rule Still Applies

Remember in high school when you first learned about resumes? Rule No. 1 was keeping your resume to one page.

That still applies, says Michelle Quinn, placement director for HireMinds LLC, a hiring and placement agency in Boston.

The one-pager, she says, is the first test of a person’s “ability to clearly articulate a wealth of information on a limited canvas.”

But, she says, if you think the stuff you leave off is still important for a hiring manager to see, put it on your personal website and add a link to it.

Readability Is Critical to Both Humans and Algorithms

Whether it’s reviewed by a hiring manager or an applicant tracking system, your resume must be easy to read.

Indeed.com suggests using a font like Arial or Times New Roman in size 10 or 12 for maximum readability. Skip fonts that look like handwriting or scripts.

If you want to showcase your design ability and work samples, the best place to do that is via your online portfolio. Make sure to include a link to it on your resume.

No matter what resume format you choose, don’t overload it with extra, unnecessary information. Tailor it to the specific job listing you’re applying for.

Also: Be aware of how much white space is on the document itself — too much makes your experience seem sparse, too little is overwhelming to the reader.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. Freelancer Elizabeth Carr contributed reporting.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

%%title%% · %%sitename%% Dear Penny: Am I Responsible for My Husband’s $60K Car Loan if He Dies?

Dear Penny,

I’m happily married (25 years) and retired for medical reasons (I’m 58). My husband makes good money. We are meeting all of our basic needs, but his retirement is severely underfunded.

We had to dig out of debt recently and are down to one zero-interest credit card we still owe about $18,000 on. Our home will be paid off in about four years, and I send $300 extra each month. 

My husband is very set on getting an expensive new car that costs about $60,000. I can’t talk him out of it, though I’ve tried! He’s OK with working until he’s 70 and would use his old car as the down payment and put down no additional cash. 

I’m worried if something happens to him before the new car is paid off. If he passes away and I’m not a co-signer, will that protect me? I don’t want the car, nor do I want the hassle of trying to sell it should he pass. I’m also worried about if he doesn’t pass but needs a long-term facility or nursing home. 

How do I protect myself for my future? He has several health concerns, but so do I.

-Mrs. M.

Dear Mrs. M.,

Your husband may be approaching retirement age, but he needs to grow up already. A $60,000 car is something you buy when your retirement accounts are plush and you have little if any debt. But I know I’m preaching to the choir.

To answer your question: The impact on you depends largely on what state you live in. If you live in one of the 41 states that follow common-law property rules, you wouldn’t be responsible for the debt as long as your name isn’t on the loan. But in the other nine states that follow community property rules — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — each spouse is equally liable for any debt incurred during the marriage.


In a common-law state, if your husband died owing money on the car, both the car and the loan would become part of his estate. The estate — specifically, whoever is the estate’s executor — would be responsible for making payments out of your husband’s assets during probate. 

Should you inherit the car along with your husband’s other property, you could simply contact the lender and surrender it. The lender could still file a claim against the estate. But since your name won’t be on the loan, you wouldn’t be sued over the debt. Your credit score wouldn’t be affected. You may be able to do the same thing if your husband becomes disabled. Doing so would hurt his credit, but it wouldn’t affect yours.

But if you live in a community property state, the lender could sue you for the debt even if you don’t co-sign. If your husband doesn’t have adequate life insurance and disability insurance that would allow you to cover car payments, there’s a real risk to your credit and finances. 

Regardless of where you live, this purchase is a terrible idea. Your husband may think his plan to work until 70 fixes everything. But the reality is, a lot of people are forced to retire earlier than they planned because of medical issues or a job loss. That prospect is daunting, especially given that you say his retirement plan is severely underfunded. The money that your husband would be spending on a car payment needs to go toward catching up on retirement savings.

I know you’ve tried to persuade your husband not to make this purchase. But I wonder if he may be more willing to listen to a neutral third party. It might be worth hiring a fee-only financial planner to assess your retirement planning and setting a specific savings goal. Perhaps your husband will see how much harder reaching that target would be with substantial car payments.

If that doesn’t work, maybe the two of you could reach a compromise. At the very least, could he hold off on buying this car until you’ve paid off the credit card? That 0% interest rate isn’t going to last forever. Paying off the balance before it starts accruing interest is a must in this case. Given that new car prices continue to soar, your husband may also save money if he can be a little patient.

I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do if your husband is truly determined to make this ridiculous purchase. But hopefully, he’ll come around and see that no car is worth putting your retirements at risk.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected]

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

20 Great Jobs For Retirees for Flexibility and Extra Cash

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Who even knows what “retired’’ means anymore?

You might have left the career you had in the 40-hour-a-week workforce. But now you don’t exactly want to be glued to your couch watching puppy videos. You want to be active, you want to work, and you want to make a little money to support your fun retirement plans.

While “retirement income’’ or “retirement job” might seem like oxymorons, they are a more reasonable pursuit today than in years past due to advancing life expectancies and improved health among older citizens.

Many people reach so-called retirement age and are in no way done with being productive. Many continue in freelance jobs and part-time gigs, whether in a brick-and mortar setting, from home, or even outdoors.

There are plenty of ways to bring in some extra money to augment pension, social security, or other retirement funds. We’ve rounded up 18 ideas for good jobs for retirees that offer part-time opportunities, flexible hours, or both.

20 Part-time Jobs for Retirees

Most of the examples here require your physical presence on-site, but there are remote jobs, too, such as virtual assistant and customer service work that can be done from the comfort of your home.

As you browse these possible jobs for retirees, keep in mind one warning: If you are collecting Social Security, you can only earn a certain amount each month before your benefits are reduced.

So let’s get to work, shall we?

1. Substitute Teacher

Substitute teachers have never been more valuable than today. Covid has increased the chances that a teacher might be out of the classroom either awaiting test results or recuperating. When that happens, their students need someone to teach — and that could be you.

Most school districts have lenient requirements for substitute teachers, often requiring just a bachelor’s degree with no teaching experience.

To be successful, you need to be ready to deal with a room full of 20 or so children of varying ages. But it could pay off. School districts in Chicago, for example, pay as much as $200 a day for a full day of work.

If you have an advanced degree, you may also qualify to be an adjunct instructor at a community college or four-year university.

2. School Support Worker

Most schools are always looking for crossing guards, recess supervisors and other positions. A call to your local elementary, middle or high school could lead you to a good retirement job that would fit your schedule. Even better is searching online for jobs at your school district. This will give you a range of what’s out there.

This is a classic retirement job that gets you out of the house, allows you to have contact with neighbors, and lets you provide security and safety with another set of adult eyes on the children.

3. Tutor

There are hundreds of tutoring companies in the U.S. who work with kids of all ages to enhance their school education or prepare for college entrance exams. If you sign up with one, they’ll match you with work and you won’t need to market yourself as a tutor.

The hourly pay for these companies ranges from about $13 to $25. Requirements often are limited to a bachelor’s degree, although exam-prep work might require a recent ACT or SAT test score, or might require you to retake the exam for verbal or math instruction.

If you are interested in online tutoring, there are many good paying gigs out there. Match your skills to the openings.

A senior woman drives a school bus.
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4. School Bus Driver

School bus drivers can earn up to $20 per hour. They have regular hours with the opportunity to earn extra for field trips or outings. Some states require a specific license (a commercial drivers license, or CDL, for example) or require you to pass a driving test to qualify.

Recent news reports indicate there are many job openings for school bus drivers.

The job is likely to include more than just driving, however. You may be asked to supervise students on the bus, and you may be called upon to discipline rowdy students or those who are making the trip unsafe. A tolerance for children of all ages is probably an important requirement.

5. Shuttle Bus Driver

There are dozens of different types of shuttle bus driver jobs. Most hotels have shuttles to and from airports. Senior citizen homes, churches and community centers often offer shuttles to shopping areas or grocery stores. Hourly pay for shuttle bus drivers can average above $13 per hour, and that’s not including tips from satisfied riders. Like school bus drivers, shuttle bus drivers have regular hours.

Depending on the particulars of the job, a commercial driver’s license might be required.

There are different state laws regarding licensing for shuttle bus drivers. A specialized license might be required if the bus holds a certain number of people or is a particular size. Your state motor vehicle website will tell you what’s required in your state, and any potential employer will know, too.

6. Tour Conductor

Tour guide is one of those jobs that, when you see someone doing it, you think, “Well, I could do that too!”

Businesses, organizations and sites that host tours come in many shapes and sizes, from historical sites to museums, from outdoor walking tours to behind-the-scenes workplace tours. They can be an everyday part of a business or scheduled by appointment. What do they all have in common? A tour leader.

These jobs require knowledge about the subject and the ability to tell a good story — often while walking backwards.

Tour guides make an average base salary of $20 per hour. Plus, they are often offered tips by tour participants.

This could be a dream job for someone who knows the topic well and likes to retell stories about history, natural science or architecture (among many other possibilities).

If this appeals to you, don’t overlook a special area of knowledge you’ve developed during all those years in the workplace. Know a lot about the manufacturing industry? Maybe you’re just the person to lead tours at a cheese factory.

Looking for a fun part-time side gig? Here’s how you can earn money visiting theme parks as a Disney nanny.

7. Patient Advocate

The job of a patient advocate is to assist someone who is struggling to cope with the healthcare system. A patient advocate deals with paperwork and appointments, and communicates with healthcare providers to get information on diagnosis, treatment and followup procedures.

Advocates might also be asked to work with insurance companies to understand coverage and costs. Many are asked to help a client obtain assistance with financial or legal issues. The range of duties can be as varied as the patient’s needs.

Being a patient advocate does not require any particular educational degree, but it is possible to become certified in this role.

These positions can be part- or full-time, and they pay well, averaging $18 an hour. So if you plan to collect Social Security benefits, make sure to check how your wage impacts your benefits.

A senior citizen plays with two children outside that she's babysitting. They are chasing each other with water guns.
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8. Child Care Provider

Child care might be a bit of a political football these days, but rarely has it been more necessary. Single parents or two-parent families that require or want two incomes are likely to need child care, and that could take the form of a nanny or frequent babysitter.

A babysitter sits in a home with a child or children. A nanny is responsible for getting children to day care or other activities; they are a substitute parent in many cases.

Craigslist, Next Door or other neighborhood job sites are great ways to search for these positions, but your best bet is to work with your personal network. Let people know that you would be willing to work as a nanny or frequent babysitter, and, with the proper recommendation, you could have a very gratifying retirement job.

There are no actual nanny or babysitter licenses or certifications in the United States, but many families require that nannies be bonded, which is a guarantee of service. It is a protection against someone failing to show up for work; one such failure forfeits the bond and that area of work is no longer available to that nanny.

Taking classes in CPR or other emergency response techniques, which offer certifications upon completion, can improve your chances of being hired.

Nannies are likely to make $15 an hour on average. Babysitter earnings vary widely by affluence of the neighborhood. Check out The Penny Hoarder’s tips on how to get paid up to $21 an hour babysitting.

9. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are independent contractors who offer business services virtually. Those services can include website management, website design, marketing assistance, social media postings, blog writing, email correspondence or any number of clerical duties that can be carried out with a computer and phone. This kind of work is often well-suited to flexible hours.

As of this writing, ZipRecruiter showed more than 221,000 virtual assistant jobs, suggesting that a virtual assistant could make up to $60,000 a year, depending on the work required.

You are more likely to work on an hourly wage determined by your experience and amount of work you are required to perform. There are also job firms that provide virtual assistants; you can sign on with them and accept work as it is offered to you.

Any task that can be done virtually via computer is likely to be requested by a virtual assistant. Firms would rather pay a freelancer than an employee to do the work.

10. Bookkeeper

You have a good head for numbers. You are in charge of your own finances, and you perhaps worked in an accounting role at a previous job.

Many small or civic organizations cannot afford, nor do they truly need, a full-time bookkeeper or accounting service. They are not in it for the money. Often, they are charitable or non-profit organizations. But they need occasional bookkeeping, often with an eye towards tax advantages.

A part-time bookkeeper job often requires simple financial recordkeeping or upkeep of other financial records. Part-time bookkeepers are usually former accountants or have experience as a bookkeeper. They may be asked to track invoices, but most companies use financial services for paychecks.

The average salary for a part-time bookkeeper is around $20 per hour.

11. Umpire and Referee

This is a perfect retirement job if you have a sports background and the ability to withstand criticism.

Competitive sports programs need officials for their games. Baseball, basketball, soccer and football all have leagues at various ages that need officiating. Depending on where you live, the work can be constant. If you get certified for multiple sports, you can work all weekend long and often during the week.

While high-level programs require officials to get licensed or certified, lower-level and youth group programs require just a basic knowledge of the rules. Look around your community for sports leagues in need of umpires or referees.

Pay is often dependent on the age of the players and the competitive level of the organization, but officials are likely to make at least $25 per game. At higher levels where certification is required, you can earn $100 per game.

A man walks a gaggle of dogs at his dog walking job.
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12. Pet Sitting and Pet Walker

For between $10 and $15 an hour, you can earn money by pet-sitting in a home or, if the pet happens to be a dog, you can walk the animal. Pet-sitting is a good job for retirees who want to work outdoors without a lot of physical requirements other than being able to walk while pulling or being pulled.

Pet sitter/walker is also a good line of work to get into because one job can lead to another. Pet owners tend to concentrate around each other, and they will give recommendations to other pet owners about a reliable person who can watch Fido or Fluffy while they are on vacation.

If you are going to house-sit the animal, you will likely get paid more for also keeping an eye on the property while the owner is away.

13. Freelance Writer

Although freelance writers no longer provide articles — it’s called “content” now — freelance writing is a gig that can offer the freedom to accept the assignments you want. There are firms that will connect freelance writers to people or companies in need of blogs, resumes, cover letters, marketing content and more.

According to Indeed, the average hourly pay for a freelance writer is a bit over $20, but you are often paid by assignment or by word, so the pay varies. If you have knowledge in certain topics like science and medicine, the pay can be higher.

Writing skills rarely diminish, but the requirements for writing change over time. A knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to open more doors. Many jobs that use job search websites like Indeed ask for candidates to take a writing test, but many of those are simple grammar or proofreading tests.

While there are occasional situations where someone needs a one-off writing assignment, freelance writer jobs often offer consistent, if sporadic, work. A retiree who can write could have a client for years. Check out this Penny Hoarder article on places hiring freelance writers.

14. Call Center Employee

Just to be clear, we are talking about taking calls from customers, not making calls. A call center representative answers incoming calls from customers or potential customers and either answers questions or sends the caller to someone else who can answer.

As much as this is a remote job, it is definitely a people-person retirement job. You are likely to be talking to someone who is upset or unhappy, and you are the first line of communication for the company you are representing. You need to be capable of being friendly and helpful in the face of unpleasant conversation.

As such, typical hourly pay is $15 as a call center representative.

15. Freelance Bartender

Freelance bartending doesn’t require bartending school and can earn you good money working at large events or small, private parties. Hourly pay for freelance bartenders can be anywhere from $20 to $50 even before tips.

If you can memorize lots of cocktail recipes, if you have an outgoing personality and a steady hand, and if you’re willing to cut people off if needed, this could be a fit for you. Your best bet might be starting out tending bar for people you know and then building a network of referrals.

Plan on some up-front costs, such as a portable bar (if the host doesn’t have one) and basic bar tools. The host is expected to supply the alcohol and mixers. And to protect against possible liability you might want to consider an annual liability policy.

16. Shopping Specialist

Is it the shopping or the buying that you enjoy? If it’s the shopping, then you might consider becoming someone’s personal shopper.

The job title describes the job. You are given a shopping list and the means to make the purchase, and you chase after the items.

Certainly, many people already have personal shoppers and don’t know it. When they contact a grocery store and provide an itemized list of goods they want, someone does the “shopping,” and the items are then delivered.

But true personal shoppers are more likely to purchase clothing and accessories than groceries. A personal shopper often finds items and then sends photos and descriptions to the person who hired them to get approval.

Some high-end clothing stores offer personal shopper services as well. These positions might be a little less “personal,” as they might be a one-day relationship. But the concept is the same.

Personal shoppers who go after groceries or staples are likely to make typical hourly pay of $14 to $20. Those who work for a service are likely on a wage or salary determined by the service rather than by the client.

There’s also money to be made as a mystery shopper. Mystery shoppers are sometimes called evaluators or secret shoppers and often work on their own time. Their job is to document their shopping experiences and report back to the owners to help them improve customer service.

Got what it takes to be a mystery shopper? We’ve rounded up five companies that are hiring retail sleuths. 

17. Security Guard

A security guard who does not carry a weapon serves as a presence to discourage inappropriate behavior. While many large businesses like Target or Wal-Mart hire security personnel from a service, small employers such as charitable or service organizations are likely to hire someone who is reliable and gives the appearance of authority.

The responsibilities of a security guard depend on the needs of the company being guarded. There may be requirements that go beyond just being a presence, but the differences depend on the needs of the company.

Hourly pay for security guards without weapons training is likely to be between $10 and $17. Night-time security guards are likely to make more than daytime ones.

This is a good job for retirees who do not mind a bit of boredom.

Security guards who do carry weapons require special training and weapons licensing, and is an entirely different job pursuit, perhaps not as well-suited to a retirement job.

18. Seasonal Job Employee

Remember when you had a summer job as a teenager or a part-time job during your winter break from college? The same logic can work when you’re thinking about some extra retirement income.

Many seasonal jobs are defined by the weather, which is defined by the time of year and the climate where you live. Seasonal jobs are popular, never go out of style (except when the season changes), and can actually be a fun job to look forward to.

Ski resorts in the winter and water parks in the summer are two great examples of places that require seasonal employees. It is not necessary to be a ski instructor or a lifeguard, either. These places require assistance in areas outside of their main purpose: security, transportation, customer service. Even the National Park Service hires seasonal temps.

Also included in seasonal work are holiday positions during the months of October-December. On-site customer service, truck unloading, shelving of new goods, and custodial services are among the positions for which big box stores are likely to need employees. For example in 2021, we tallied more than 1 million seasonal jobs at national retailers and delivery services.

Some stores hold hiring events in October to fill these positions, but they often continue searching for employees throughout the final three months of the year.

A man takes out a croissant out of a display case for a customer who is purchasing it.
Getty Images

19. Baker/Butcher

Perhaps you grew up baking your own bread, and your cupcakes were legendary at your kid’s school events.

Perhaps you know your way around a rump roast, or can identify all the various cuts of meat they offer at your local butcher.

You could turn your lifelong interest in food preparation into a part-time job, and you are likely to be welcomed because you don’t need as much training as a newbie. Your local grocery store would be a good place to start, letting the hiring manager know that you have some background as a butcher or baker.

These are speciality skills, and as such get paid better than some other positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a butcher’s hourly wage is approximately $17.15 an hour. Payscale.com lists the average hourly wage for a baker at just under $13 per hour.

20. Specialty Store Employee

You know which hardware store to go to to get advice from someone who has fixed a toilet in their life. You know which fabric store to go to where the employees know the difference between chiffon and silk.

You could be one of those employees.

During your life, you have become knowledgeable about some aspect of household or everyday life. People with your knowledge are hired by companies to help people who do not yet have that experience. Stores that serve a specific type of customer would love to hire someone they don’t have to train extensively.

According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for a hardware store employee is just under $13. Indeed says a sales associate at a specialty store will make an average of just over $10 an hour, maybe more now that minimum wages are increasing across the country.

Pro Tip

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Become a Trivia Host

Trivia nights are becoming must-have entertainment at bars across the country, where a good host can make $50 to $250 a night depending on if they work for a company or themselves. The friendly competition is also a regular feature at many restaurants, craft brweries, private parties and churches.

Google “trivia nights Atlanta” and more than 70 listings pop up. Search in a much smaller town such as Marietta, Ohio, population 14,000, and around 15 trivia nights display.

For the outlets that aren’t hosting a trivia night, it’s not hard to convince them to try it, according to Thor Dollar, who owns Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C. He started the year working four locations with one other host and now has 12 hosts working 22 trivia nights at different places.

“Some of the places where we host trivia, it’s their busiest night of the week. Busier than Friday or Saturday. People are there three hours on average and some stay after (trivia) and keep spending money,” he said.

Dollar said his average game has 20 teams, with an average of four or five people on each team. That adds up to 100 people dropping $20 to $40 in a night.

Based on that math, bars and restaurants make $2,000 to $4,000 from trivia-playing customers — and know it’s well worth paying the trivia host $200.

Is It Hard To Be a Bar Trivia Host?

First off, you don’t have to be Alex Trebec. You don’t even have to come up with good questions, much less know the answers.

“You do not have to be a whiz kid to have a good time,” Dollar said. “A good host is really quick thinking, energetic and fun. You’re the host of the party, so you should be having fun.”

Compile Trivia Questions

The Internet is full of hundreds of lists of thousands of trivia questions. Or you can subscribe to a service that supplies questions for a flat fee.

For example, StageTimeTrivia.com charges $100 a month, for weekly rounds of trivia questions, answer sheets and score cards. DeliverMeTrivia.com charges $19 a week for the same.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match. Dollar says he subscribes to a service but also puts in a few of his own questions, sometimes tied to local people and events.

Project Your Voice

“You have to be able to read. You have to be loud and clear and able to project your voice. It’s really public speaking at the end of the day,” said Casey Wyatt, another host with Hammered Trivia.

She’s always loved going to trivia nights, so she just started hosting as a side gig to her day job with an educational data analysis company.

Add a Little Humor

Again, you don’t need to be a stand-up comedian, but throwing in a little humor or friendly ribbing at a team here and there makes the crowd feel engaged with the host and each other.

On a recent trivia night, Wyatt asked: “What is the orchestral piece at the beginning of an opera?” The correct answer is: “Overture.”  But when she was reading out answers she said:

“Prelude….,” and some patrons cheered and others cringed, “is the most popular wrong answer. The right answer is overture.”

Not Too Hard and Not Too Easy

To keep the crowd having fun and coming back, most people should be able to answer six or seven questions from each round of 10, Dollar said.

Most pub quiz questions are general knowledge a lot of people know, while a few are for someone who happens to have knowledge in a unique area or remember something they learned in high school anatomy.

Thor Dollar hosts a trivia night at a bar.
“A good host is really quick thinking, energetic and fun,” said Thor Dollar, owner of Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C. “You’re the host of the party, so you should be having fun.” Photo courtesy of Thor Dollar

“Every good host should be constantly reading the room and getting feedback from players,” Dollar said. If they seem frustrated or they aren’t having fun, adjust your questions.

A Little Technical Know-How

Trivia hosts usually play music in the background from their laptop or phone between rounds and when players are thinking of answers. Some also play snippets of songs for music trivia rounds.

While some bar trivia hosts use pen and paper, many have guests scan a QR code to see the questions and submit answers from their phone.

This allows your pub quiz to include photos, book covers, illustrations or anything that can be scanned and seen on a phone.

How to Start a Side Gig Hosting Trivia

There are two ways to host trivia night: Find your own gig with a restaurant or bar or sign up with a local or national trivia company.

Landing Your Own Trivia Night

Find an establishment that doesn’t have a trivia night and ask if they have ever considered it. If they say they tried and trivia didn’t draw a crowd, explain why you can do it better.

Use the math from above to show how long teams of players stay and how much they spend.

Dollar suggests offering to host three nights for free or a reduced rate, then when a certain number of teams play consistently raise your rate.

Tell the owner or manager that as the trivia host, you’ll provide all the materials including questions, answer sheets, pens, pencils etc. But suggest the business might offer gift cards worth $25 to $75 for three levels of prizes to the winning team or teams.

A woman holds a drink while sitting at a table at a corporate event.
Casey Wyatt signed on as a host with local company Hammered Trivia in Raleigh, N.C., rather than joining a national chain. Photo courtesy of Casey Wyatt

Get in with Trivia Companies

National bar trivia chains hiring hosts nationwide include Geeks Who Drink, Team Trivia, Top Shelf Trivia and many more. According to Indeed.com they pay $20 to $35 an hour for a trivia night that lasts two to three hours.

Wyatt, who recently signed on with Hammered Trivia, decided to go with a local company after playing several trivia nights around town and applying to the one where she thought the crowd had the most fun.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but they also paid the best,” she said.

How To Keep Trivia Players From Cheating

It’s a given that people cheat at trivia. And when players are submitting answers on their phones, there is even more opportunity to Google an answer or two.

“People cheat all the time,” Dollar said. “Your biggest way to keep the game honest is knowing the players. I go around and talk to the players.”

He also intentionally asks at least three extremely hard questions that raise a red flag if a team gets them all correct.

“Then I strike up a conversation with them. If a bunch of 22-year-old dudes get all the questions about musicals right I say: ‘So which one of you is the Andrew Lloyd Weber fan’ or ‘what was your favorite show that played at the Durham Performing Arts Center last year.”

Another tactic: Catch cheaters in the act of searching for answers on their phone.

“When I know they’re cheating,” Dollar said, “I tell them I’m not going to check their scores anymore but they can still play along for the rest of the night.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill, N.C. and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker, Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

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Additional Resources

Adoption is a life-changing journey. Whether the choice to adopt comes after years of expensive infertility treatments or is a route you’ve always wanted to take, the choice to welcome a new family member is rarely a financial one, but rather a decision of the heart.

But at some point, prospective adoptive parents have to consider the costs. It’s unlikely your decision to adopt will boil down to numbers. But it helps to know what to expect. 

The figures can vary depending on your adoption journey, from almost nothing to upward of $70,000. But you can use them as a baseline to help you financially prepare for starting a family and to make an informed decision about which type of adoption makes the most sense for you.


How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?

There are three basic types of adoption: domestic infant adoption (sometimes called private adoption), international adoption, and public adoption. 


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But if you’re looking to adopt a baby, private and international adoption are the only two real options. Because of the way the foster care system operates, it’s exceedingly rare to be able to adopt an infant through public adoption. Their primary goal is reunifying families whenever possible, which can take years.     

But regardless of your adopted child’s age, some costs are common to all three, such as the expense of a home study, which involves visits by a social worker and background and financial checks. Other costs are unique to the adoption route you choose, such as the travel expenses involved with international adoption.

And the costs vary wildly, so it’s crucial you understand the ins and outs of each adoption type.


Domestic Infant Adoption

When adopting a baby in the United States, you have two options: adopting through an agency or independent adoption.

Costs of Adopting an Infant Through an Agency: $25,000 – $70,000 

Adopting through an agency is more expensive, but there’s also a higher success rate. Also, some agencies offer a sliding scale for those who need help affording adoption, which can potentially save you a few thousand dollars, depending on your income. However, each state has its own laws that regulate adoption fees, including sliding scale fee structures. 

Average Costs of Domestic Agency Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $45,000
Legal Fees $2,500 – $6,000
Birth Mother Expenses $4,000 – $16,250
Home Study Fee $2,750

Adoption agencies are typically full-service operations. Thus, their fees generally include everything involved in the adoption process, which can be complex. The journey to bring a child home involves many parties, including attorneys, social workers, physicians, counselors, government administrators, and adoption specialists. 

There are also costs associated with matching birth parents and adoptive parents. For example, there are advertising expenses to find expectant mothers. And then there are medical expenses and court costs to ensure the health of the mother and child during pregnancy as well as the safety and security of the child after placement.

When you adopt through an agency, it typically completes the entire process from beginning to end, hence the expense. 

Adoption agencies that charge more include more services. For example, if you find an agency with fees at the lower end, it’s likely because their fee doesn’t include the costs of hiring an attorney, unlimited advertising for birth parents, certain birth mother expenses, or adoption disruption insurance (a guarantee you won’t lose your money if the birth mother changes her mind).

So always ask for a written, line-by-line breakdown of the agency’s costs to see what services its rate covers before signing with it. 

Costs of an Independent Adoption With an Attorney Only:  $10,000 – $40,000

If agency adoption is too expensive but you’d still like to adopt a newborn, you can save a lot of money by hiring an attorney to facilitate an independent adoption. Independent adoption happens when prospective parents locate a birth parent on their own and use an attorney to process the necessary paperwork.

Average Costs of Independent (Attorney) Adoption

Legal Fees $3,000 – $6,000
Advertising Fees $0 – $1,000
Birth Mother Expenses $6,000 – $30,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an independent adoption can range from $10,000 to $40,000, though it could go higher based on your circumstances. The final bill depends on how much you need to spend to find an expectant mother and how much you pay for medical and living expenses, which may be regulated by state law. 

Further, adopting independently is a bit like trying to sell a house without a realtor. You must find a birth mom on your own, which means advertising for and vetting birth moms without help. 

So, while it can be cheaper, you still have to go it alone. And if you have trouble finding a birth mother, your costs can quickly add up. Agencies give a flat rate no matter how much advertising it takes. If you have trouble finding someone, you could quickly blow past the $40,000 mark.

Another reason independent adoption costs can vary more widely than those through a private agency is because in most states, adoptive parents won’t have their costs reimbursed if a birth mother changes her mind, what’s commonly called a disrupted adoption. Most adoption agencies build disruption insurance into their fee structures. 


International Adoption: $26,500 – $73,000

Those unfamiliar with the adoption process often believe it’s less expensive to adopt a child from another country. But the reverse is more often true. 

Average Costs of International Adoption

Agency Fees $15,000 – $30,000
Legal Fees $500 – $6,000
Immigration Application Fee $1,000 – $2,000
Dossier Preparation and Clearance $1,000 – 2,000
Home Study Fee $1,000 – $4,000
In-Country Adoption Expenses $2,000 – $10,000
Travel Expenses $5,000 – $15,000
Child’s Passport, Visa, Medical Exam $1,000 – $4,000

The cost of an international adoption can range from just over $20,000 to more than $70,000. The wide variance is due to the different requirements of each country. 

International adoption (also called intercountry adoption) has some similarities to domestic adoption. But it has its own unique steps and expenses that can quickly escalate beyond the cost of domestic adoption.

The costs of international adoptions can include immigration processing and court costs (both in the foreign country and the U.S.), travel expenses, foreign and domestic legal fees, foreign agency fees, passport and visa fees, medical examinations, and in-country adoptions expenses (such as foster care for the child, donations to the orphanage, and payments for the in-country adoption liaisons).

The costs also depend on whether a government or private agency, orphanage, nonprofit organization, attorney, or a combination of entities is managing the adoption. 

Additionally, some international adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin, while others must be finalized in the U.S., depending on the laws of your state, further adding to the total cost. And depending on the country’s regulations, you may have to plan an extended stay, which means time off work and (potentially) lost wages.


Public Adoption: $0 – $2,500

The least expensive route to growing your family is unquestionably public adoption, or adopting through the foster care system. It’s very difficult to adopt a baby, though. So this option is best for those who wish to adopt an older child.

Public adoption costs next to nothing because the government subsidizes many associated fees and expenses. 

Average Costs of Public Adoption

Agency Fees Usually $0
Legal Fees $0 – $2,000
Home Study Fee $0 – $500

Federal and state financial adoption assistance programs exist to encourage the adoption of children with special needs that make them difficult to place, such as older children, sibling groups, or those with physical or mental disabilities. 

Thus, most prospective parents who are adopting through public agencies will find their state is often willing to waive most or all of the fees associated with adopting through the foster care system, including both the home study fee and attorney fees. 

Additionally, if you become a foster parent and apply to foster-to-adopt, the government subsidizes some of your future adopted child’s living expenses while you await finalization. 

But if you have your heart set on adopting a newborn, foster care adoption isn’t the route for you. It’s nearly impossible to adopt an infant that way. 

Some babies in the foster care system were abandoned by their biological parents or taken by the state due to abuse, neglect, or drug addiction. But no child in the system — infant or otherwise — is immediately available for adoption. 

The state’s No. 1 priority is to reunite children with their biological families. That includes extensive sessions with counselors and social workers. If that effort ultimately proves unsuccessful, the state next tries to place the child with a biological relative. 

Only after these efforts — which could take several years — are children placed for adoption. Thus, by the time babies in foster care become eligible for adoption, they’re no longer babies. But if they were placed with a foster family, that family gets the first chance at adoption. 
However, if you’re interested in adopting an older child and are prepared to help them work through the trauma, the rewards can be immense. My parents adopted my little brother from foster care at the age of 6, and his presence has enriched our family in myriad ways.

Happy Family Son Saving Money In Piggy Bank Budgeting Teaching Saving

Factors That Influence Adoption Costs

Every adoption is unique, and though adoption agencies typically try to work within your budget, unforeseen costs can occasionally raise the base projected cost. And that can have a significant impact on your overall family budget.


Birth Mother Expenses

Depending on your state’s adoption laws, a birth mother may be eligible for coverage of certain expenses. You may have to pay medical expenses related to the pregnancy, including insurance coverage if she’s not already covered or eligible for Medicaid.

If you work with an agency, they should take care of helping her find coverage. But you may still be responsible for some medical expenses, such as doctor copays. Once you’re matched with a birth mother, her medical expenses become your medical expenses. 

Adoption agencies typically work these into their overall fee structure but allow for variances that could affect your cost. For example, you may pay more or less depending on what stage of pregnancy the mother’s in when the agency matches you. If you’re matched in the ninth month, there will be fewer expenses.

And if you’re adopting independently, some or all of the medical costs the birth mother incurs as a result of the pregnancy may be your responsibility as defined by the laws of your state. Consult with an adoption lawyer for more information.  

Additionally, in some states, you may need to cover other birth mother expenses. Birth mother expenses are court-approved funds adoptive families provide to help prospective birth mothers with pregnancy-related expenses. In addition to medical care, costs could include living expenses like maternity clothing, groceries, rent, and transportation. 

Some states that allow birth mothers to request living expenses cap the total amount. For example, Ohio caps the amount birth mothers can be reimbursed for living expenses at $3,000 and Connecticut at $1,500. Other states have no cap but permit a judge to set one on an individual basis. 

Thus, these expenses can vary widely from one adoption to another.


Advertising

The longer you have to wait for a birth mother match, the more money an agency must pay toward advertising to find you one. Ask the adoption agency how they deal with this variable cost. Some charge one flat fee regardless of the amount of advertising required; others set a variable cost.

And if you’re doing an independent adoption, you’ll be covering this expense on your own. If you don’t already know a birth mother to adopt from, you’ll need to find one. That means drawing on your personal connections, using social networks or community organizations, utilizing adoptive family websites, posting print ads, or seeking referrals from adoption attorneys. 

It could take a long time to find a birth mother if you don’t have extensive networking options. And that can substantially drive up your adoption costs. Depending on how long it takes you to find someone, fees for print and online advertising can range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands. 


Attorney Fees

Lawyers are necessary for dealing with the legal aspects of any adoption. These include the original consent to adoption and termination of parental rights as well as the court proceedings to finalize the arrangement. 

However, the fees can vary considerably based on the type of adoption you opt for. Attorney fees can also vary depending on other factors, including:

  • The Complexity of the Case. Will they need to represent you multiple times in court? All adoptions must eventually be finalized before a judge. But some adoptions — such as international adoptions or those in which birth mother expenses must be court-ordered — could require more paperwork or court appearances than others.
  • The Number of Hours the Attorney Works on the Case. Lawyers charge by the hour. Even if you don’t have to appear in court more than once, adoption can involve a lot of paperwork.
  • The Number of Additional Attorneys or Support Staff Needed. Depending on the complexity of your case or who you hire, you may be represented by a law firm rather than a single attorney. Additionally, your lawyer may use a support team to fulfill basic tasks like clerical work.

Depending on your case, rates are often negotiable. And while attorneys often charge by the hour, many offer a flat fee for certain types of cases. 

For example, a family law attorney might charge a flat fee for a straightforward adoption case that requires a simple filing of paperwork and one court appearance. But they might charge by the hour for a more complex case, such as an international adoption.

Regardless, most lawyers offer payment options so clients can find an arrangement that works for their budget. And all lawyers have fee agreements informing clients of costs upfront. So ensure you thoroughly read the agreement beforehand. 


Time Off

Unfortunately, in the U.S., paid parental leave isn’t guaranteed by law, and many workplaces don’t have this benefit. Even when they do, it may not apply to adoptive parents. So check with your human resources department about whether your workplace offers adoption benefits. 

Whether your employer offers paid time off, all adoptive parents are entitled to up to 12 weeks (three months) of leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. The act equally guarantees maternity and paternity leave for biological and adoptive parents.

But it only guarantees your job and health insurance. It doesn’t guarantee paid time off. If your company doesn’t provide paid parental leave, you need to plan for lost wages.


Final Word

The costs of adoption may feel formidable, especially if you have your heart set on adopting an infant through domestic or international adoption. But they don’t have to be insurmountable.

Many resources are available to help families afford to adopt, including options for post-placement reimbursement, like the adoption tax credit. Talk with adoption professionals to explore your options before completely ruling it out. 

Also, talk with other families who’ve adopted. Many are happy to share stories of how they were able to afford adoption, especially if it helps others fulfill their dreams of a family.

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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Become a 911 Operator

Ever consider what it’s like to be a 911 emergency operator?

Well now’s the time to think about it. The job is in high demand these days and it doesn’t require a college degree, saves lives and is never boring. The average starting salary is $38,000 and the national average pay is about $48,000, which isn’t super high but the job usually has good medical benefits.

In most states it takes about four to six weeks to get certified and then several months of on-the-job training. New hires are paid while they are trained.

Yes, there is certainly stress involved, but agencies have services to help employees deal with that. And not every call is a life-or-death situation; there are plenty of non-emergency situations such as stolen cars or lost dogs.

St. Johns County in Florida is just one of hundreds of agencies across the country looking to hire so-called “heroes in headsets.” It’s offering a starting salary of $41,000, which is boosted with overtime. There’s also a bonus of $2,000 for completing the certification.

“There has been a need for 911 professionals for as long as I can remember,” said April Heinze, Operations Director for 911 and Public Safety Answering Point at NENA, the National Emergency Number Association. That need has become much greater with COVID-19, which discouraged many from working in office settings or high-contact jobs like public safety. Thus the pool of potential employees has gotten smaller. “You’re starting to see more and more municipalities offering signing bonuses to encourage people to apply.”

For the right person, a job in emergency communications can become a rewarding career. As with healthcare, working in public safety is a chance to help people in need.

“When you go home at the end of your day you think about all of the people you helped. You may have saved lives that day. You are able to do a large amount of good on a daily basis,” Heinze said. Her organization represents tens of thousands of 911 first responders.

Here’s a link to 911-operator openings in each state. This isn’t comprehensive, however, so check the municipalities near you about openings, which are sometimes described as emergency dispatcher or 911 dispatcher.

How to Become a 911 Operator

First, be 18 and have a high school diploma or GED. The hiring process involves pre-employment testing and interviews. Most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in person or online. After that, employees train on the job for six to 12 months. Expect a drug screening.

Pros of Being a 911 Operator

The pros of being a 911 operator include good medical benefits, paid vacation time, job satisfaction especially if you like to help people and a lively workplace. It’s a job that’s rarely boring.

Good Benefits

The most common employers are police departments, public safety departments, fire stations, and emergency management call centers. Aside from a few nonprofit organizations, most of these agencies are operated by municipalities.

“In many cases there are many really good benefits. Some localities still have great retirement benefits. You typically get decent sick time and vacation time and can earn other types of time off as well,” Heinze said. “There’s opportunity for overtime and holiday pay. You get paid holidays off and may end up getting double time if you work on a holiday.”

Job Satisfaction

There’s no going home wondering if you made a difference in the world. “You have a great sense of self worth. You are able to do some fantastic things in your day,” Heinze said. “You make a difference in many people’s lives in one day’s time on a weekly and monthly and annual basis.”

Exciting Work

Along with the above tasks, emergency dispatchers must analyze situations and consider what more could be happening. Heinze pointed to a scenario in which a caller complains that her neighbor’s dog is barking incessantly. The 911 dispatcher has to figure out whether the dog’s owner could have had a medical emergency or there could be a break-in taking place.

Major Multitasking

This can be a pro or a con depending on the person. For some, emergency communications work might seem overwhelming. But for people who have a passion for operating on all cylinders, a 911 call taker offers a wide variety of work.

Once you are fully trained in emergency communications, you’ll take calls, dispatch emergency responders and check data and background records all at one time, said Heinze.

Cons of Being a 911 Operator

The cons are stressful work and long hiring process then after that on-the-job training and shadowing an experienced dispatcher. As you can imagine, the hiring personnel want to make sure that 911 operators can handle the pressure of hearing and helping people in distress.

Stress

Clearly, this isn’t an easy job. It’s very hard to take numerous calls that include trauma and crimes in process. Heinze said many municipalities have peer support groups, mentors and outside counseling to help dispatchers cope with the stress.

Long Hiring Process

This is not a job you can apply for and expect to start two weeks later. Heinze estimates it can take up to three months to be hired.

The pre-employment testing process includes several interviews, aptitude tests, a psychological evaluation and lengthy background checks. Some agencies go a step further, asking applicants who make it to the final stage of hiring to shadow someone on the job to make sure it’s something they want to do.

What Makes a Good Emergency Dispatcher?

The most important characteristic for an emergency dispatcher is the ability to be calm in stressful situations. A good emergency dispatcher has good communication skills and is personable. Typing is a required skill, as is empathy.

Here are more details on the skills employers will look for:

  • Customer service. If you’re good at customer service, you will likely make a good emergency call-taker.
  • Typing abilities. Most 911 dispatchers need to type between 30 to 45 words per minute without error.
  • Communication skills. Not only are you communicating with people in distress, you must be able to calmly talk with a wide variety of people. “You have to handle calls from every different generation, from a child caller to the elderly, someone with a mental disorder, intoxicated people, deaf or hard of hearing people,” Heinze said.
  • Empathy. It’s good to have a calming voice and provide an empathetic ear that’s ready to help.

These skills will give you a good foundation for your training, where you will learn about:

  • Telecommunications
  • Critical incident stress
  • Suicide intervention
  • Emergency medical dispatch
  • Advanced First Aid/CPR/AED
  • Hazardous materials
  • Domestic violence
  • Terrorism

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the 911 Operator Profession

We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most common questions about being a 911 dispatcher.

How Do I Become a 911 Operator?

Applicants must be 18 and have a high school diploma, GED or college degree to apply for 911 operator positions, and then go through a series of tests and interviews. Once you are hired, most states have training requirements of four to six weeks in a classroom or online setting. After that, employees will train on the job for six to 12 months.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a 911 Operator?

Pros include job satisfaction, good work benefits and an exciting, meaningful job. Cons are high stress, up to a three-month hiring process and major multitasking.

How Stressful Is It to Be a 911 Operator?

Yes, it can be stressful taking calls from people in life threatening situations. Agencies provide counseling, peer support groups and mentor support to help emergency dispatchers deal with stress.

Is a 911 Operator a Good Job?

It is a good job if it you are the kind of person who can remain calm in an emergency and you like to help people. Average starting pay is $38,000 for a meaningful career. In addition to the salary, most 911 operators work for a government agency with retirement benefits, sick time and paid vacation. There is also potential for overtime pay and the chance to advance to a higher salary.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter in North Carolina and Florida. She is author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Explained

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is a type of self-regulation that a business uses to enhance the well-being of communities and society through ethical, environmental, and social measures.

By investing in companies that practice CSR, investors have the opportunity to use their own wealth-building strategies to make a positive impact on the world.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a company’s dedication to establishing business decisions that positively impact society. Usually, these business decisions support socially responsible movements, like environmental sustainability, ethical labor practices, and social justice initiatives.

Ideally, CSR strategies work in tandem with the traditional business objectives of hitting revenue and profit goals, and other metrics investors may find on a financial statement.

There is no codified set of standards that explain corporate social responsibility. Companies choose to enact CSR policies on their own initiative. It can take many forms depending on a company or an industry, but generally, CSR policies promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

However, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released guidelines for corporate social responsibility in 2010. Known as ISO 26000:2010 , these guidelines are suggestions, not requirements, that can help put companies on track to further CSR principles.

Why CSR Is Important

Corporate social responsibility is important because companies can use their financial position and operations to build more ethical business models and a better world. When the companies enact socially responsible policies prosper, those practices become more commonplace and widespread.

Additionally, investors increasingly focus on more than traditional business valuation methods when making investment decisions. Investors want to put money into companies that support socially responsible movements, so they may be attracted to companies with CSR policies.

In other words, investing in companies that practice corporate social responsibility gives investors the chance to vote with their wallets on how they want the companies around them to behave.

Recommended: What is ESG Investing?

4 Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is an umbrella term that captures a wide array of policies that a company can enact. CSR-focused companies may target their efforts on one or more specific social, economic, or environmental areas of concern. The following are some of the most common areas of CSR:

1. Environmental Sustainability

Companies are increasingly focusing on environmental sustainability when making business decisions. With climate change threatening to cause severe impacts worldwide, companies are committing to creating sustainable production methods, distribution, and overall business practices to reduce carbon footprints.

For investors, sustainable investing could mean seeking out companies that promise to hold to sustainable business practices—and doing the research to ensure they’re keeping that promise in real life. Additionally, it could mean focusing on companies that are specifically involved in creating the products that allow for environmental sustainability in the long term, such as renewable energy, biofuels, or hybrid cars.

Recommended: How to Invest in EV Stocks

2. Philanthropy

One of the ways large companies might align themselves with CSR values is by supporting philanthropic efforts. By donating money, products, or services to nonprofit organizations and social causes, a company can show the public what it values and how its furthering causes.

Recommended: How to Make End-of-Year Donations

3. Ethical Labor Practices

Corporations that commit to ethical labor practices, such as focusing on diversity and inclusion or having a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment, may garner more favor among investors looking to support a socially responsible company.

Recommended: How to Combine Financial Well-Being and Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

4. Volunteering

Another way almost any business can get in on CSR might be to support local volunteering efforts by sending out their representatives or fundraising for other volunteering organizations and movements.

Companies might also support volunteerism by offering their employees paid time off specifically for that activity. Some companies provide employees several days off per year, which they can use to participate in any volunteering effort they choose.

Recommended: 34 Charities To Support This Year

Examples of CSR

Many companies have enacted corporate social responsibility initiatives, and the trend is growing. According to one study, 92% of companies in the S&P 500 published sustainability in 2020, up from 20% in 2011. Here are a few examples of CSR policies at large corporations:

•   Starbucks (SBUX): The coffee giant has committed to hiring a diversified workforce, including hiring thousands of veterans, refugees, and disadvantaged youth.

•   Levi Strauss (LEVI): The apparel maker launched the Levi’s® Music Project, an initiative that looks to provide young people with music education and community resources.

•   Ford Motor Company (F): The carmaker is pushing to have 50% of its global sales be electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 to help address climate change.

•   Salesforce (CRM): The software company says it has given about $240 million in grants, 3.5 million hours of community service, and provided donations to more than 39,000 nonprofits and education institutions.

•   The Coca-Cola Company (KO): The beverage company is focusing on water conservation, saying it will push to responsibly use water in its production process and advocate for smart water policies.

Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

There are many reasons for a company to adopt and execute corporate social responsibility policies. First and foremost, CSR practices help promote a relatively better society and environment. By following socially responsible protocols, companies could have the opportunity to make significant social, economic, and ecological changes. As noted above, investors are increasingly looking to put money into companies that adhere to CSR.

Beyond these direct positives, CSR policies can also boost a company’s competitiveness by benefiting the firm in the following ways:

•   Stronger brand image: Corporate social responsibility policies can help create a positive image for a company, attracting consumers, employees, and other stakeholders.

•   Employee retention: Talented employees may stay with a company longer when they feel they are working for a business that has strong CSR policies. Additionally, this reputation can help attract new employees.

•   Reduced regulatory burden: A comprehensive CSR policy can help a company navigate relationships with regulatory bodies, especially as governments establish more rules around sustainability.

The Takeaway

Corporate social responsibility is one of several business models companies are using to navigate a changing world. By investing in companies that support those practices, investors could have the opportunity to positively impact the world while also potentially building their nest eggs.

However, it can take a lot of work for investors to determine what companies have the best CSR policies and what companies are truly adhering to their initiatives. So if you want to invest in companies that support CSR policies, it may be best to start small rather than build a whole portfolio around CSR stocks.

SoFi Invest® allows you to start investing today and build a portfolio with whatever strategy you desire. With active investing, you can trade stocks of brands you know and believe in and discover new opportunities based on your interests along the way.

Get started today with SoFi Invest.


SoFi Invest®
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1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).

2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.

3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.

For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit www.sofi.com/legal.
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Source: sofi.com

25 Must-Follow Tips When Moving To a Different State

This moving checklist will make crossing state lines a breeze.

Moving is always annoying but much easier when you’re moving just a few blocks away. But moving out of state? That’s a whole different ballgame. There are many details and things to check off your list before hopping on a plane to your new city.

It can get overwhelming quickly, from professional movers and having a job lined up to making new friends and leaving family members behind.

These 25 must-follow tips for moving out of state will help with the heavy lifting that comes with moving out of state.

What to consider before moving to another state?

Moving out of state is scary, but if you’re armed with a good checklist, everything can seem a little more approachable. Sure, there are a lot of details to take care of before moving, but the most important thing you should focus on is finding the right city for you.

1. Finding your next city

Make a shortlist of your dream cities and book a long weekend at each, if possible. Forgo a hotel room in favor of living like a local and research neighborhoods before you go. Book an Airbnb listing in the one that fits your lifestyle the most.

Gather intel from friends, make a list of your favorite things to do (think movie theaters, preferred stores, etc.) and check your social network to see if you know anyone in the area. Do groceries and take public transportation to get a true feel of your potential everyday life.

2. Visit a few places before deciding on your new state

Go to several cities.

Go to several cities.

After a few visits to your top 3 cities out of state, think about what’s important to you. Do you want to ditch your car in favor of public transportation? How’s the dining scene in these cities? Is the job market in your career path of choice thriving there? How are the local schools? Are you moving alone, or are you moving in with your partner? Can you afford to live in this prospective city with your current salary?

This is when pro/con lists come in handy. Be sure to sit down and think it through before deciding on your new state.

3. Compare the cost of living before moving out of state

When picking a new city to live in, you have to consider more than moving expenses. Whether you’re relocating for a new job or moving while keeping your current one, you need to consider the new cost of living expenses. Is rent more expensive in the new city? Do you have nature or a local park nearby? What about groceries and transportation?

The cost of living in Washington, D.C., versus Charlotte, NC, is very different, for example. In Florida, the state has no income tax. Make sure that wherever you’re relocating to, you compare both your budget and current salary to the new city’s cost of living differences so you can adjust accordingly and save money where you can.

4. Set a moving budget

So, you’ve picked your new city. Now, it’s time to start thinking about your moving budget. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll hire professional movers and a long-distance moving company to handle your move. Or, if you’ll just get your friends to help you load a moving truck, and you’ll unload it on your own once you arrive at your new address.

You’ll also need to consider deposits for your new apartment, plane tickets, security deposits for utility companies, any new food and house items you’ll need and possibly a storage unit if you have to stay in temporary housing for a bit.

A spreadsheet outlining every money detail will help keep you within budget.

5. Find an apartment in your new city

apartment hunting

apartment hunting

Pick your dream neighborhood and start researching apartments. It’s always good to secure housing before moving out of state. Hunting long-distance for an apartment is challenging, so seeing it in person or sending a friend will make the easiest move.

Read reviews, set up tours for various apartments and always confirm that an apartment is legitimate before wiring any money. Ask for move-in specials and current amenities like an in-unit washer and dryer or stainless appliances.

Bring a blank check and any required documents for the application so you can apply on the spot if you love it. This may include:

  • State-ID or driver’s license
  • Proof of income (latest paystub)
  • At least one reference from a previous landlord
  • Employment details
  • Co-signer information, if needed
  • Unfrozen credit for the landlord to run it for application

Check with your job to see if they reimburse employees for relocation expenses or have any moving services available. Also, check your lease terms and let your landlord know with enough time that you’re leaving your current apartment soon. Make sure to schedule a walkthrough date to get your security deposit back.

6. Update your work about your move

In this pandemic era, working remotely is the new normal. If your job allows you to work remotely and you’re staying, for now, update HR with your new address. This will help your company remain updated with payroll and update your healthcare information.

Follow up with them to make sure they have all they need before your move date. Inquire if, due to your relocation, you now have access to any remote working stipend.

7. Find a new job, if needed

Maybe you’re ready for a whole new life? A new state, new job. Start applying to new jobs as soon as you can since landlords in a new city may require a certain income before renting you a place.

Head to job boards online for opportunities in your chosen city and start sharing that you’re looking for a new opportunity with your network. If you can, schedule upcoming job interviews via Zoom or by phone before you move.

8. Go over your belongings and make donation piles

Don

Don

Things are getting real, and it’s time to see how much stuff you really have. You can start calculating how many boxes you need or if you’re hiring movers or just a moving truck.

Go over your furniture, clothes and even kitchen utensils and start donating and selling piles. Start listing items on social media and put every cent you make toward moving costs.

Leave only what you need in the last 30 days, including medical records and important documents like birth certificates and what’s making a move out of state in the apartment. Everything else needs to go to make sure that you only pay the moving company precisely for what you want to keep.

9. Pick a move-in date and start packing

The moving out of state timeline starts getting faster once you pick an apartment and your job situation is all settled. Check your lease and choose a move date. Pick up boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap, and start streamlining all your belongings.

Spend your weekends patching up holes in your current apartment, repainting any walls, confirming your move-in date with your new landlord and picking up your keys.

10. Book the moving company

After purging your belongings, you’ll have a better idea of the number of boxes and furniture you need to hire movers for. Research moving companies that specialize in out-of-state moves. This is an excellent time to ask for recommendations on social media for moving companies.

Get a few quotes to compare them, confirm that there are no add-ons or surprise charges with the quote, how they go about hiring professionals and vetting them and, of course, read reviews.

Once you pick a reputable moving company, confirm the delivery address of your new house, ask about day-of protocol so you’re ready for the movers and ask for an estimate of when they will deliver your belongings. Some moving companies allow you to track your belongings for peace of mind.

11. Schedule a going away party

Send an invite to all of your friends and family before you move out of state. If you can, ask a close friend to take on planning details for the party so you can focus on your long-distance move. Book a venue or go down to your favorite restaurant (that you will miss very much!) and have a casual night with everyone you know.

12. Make travel arrangements

Decide if you

Decide if you

Now that you have a date for moving out of state, you have to decide how to get there. If you hire movers, you have the choice of hopping on a plane or driving there.

This is the time to book your plane ticket if that’s the best choice. Make sure that you plan which bags you’re taking with you and that they all meet the weight requirements. Have a small pet? Don’t forget to buy them a ticket, too.

If you’re driving, make sure to budget for gas and have your route planned out. Making long-distance moves via car is more exhausting, but you do get to bring a few more of your things with you, see new things on the way and go at your own pace. Be sure to pack a first aid kit for the road, just in case.

This is a good option if you have temporary housing and will have stuff in a storage unit for a while at first.

13. Arrange cleaners at your old place

Schedule cleaners for the day after the movers come by and double-check that you covered every nail hole, there are no stains on the carpet and you packed up all of your things.

Once the cleaners leave the place sparkling clean, let your landlord know the apartment is ready for a walkthrough. Return the keys and finalize how you’ll receive your security deposit before you head out of state.

14. Clean and sell your car

If you don

If you don

If you chose a place with stellar public transportation, you’re probably thinking of leaving your car behind. You don’t have to sell it until a week before you move to make sure that you get all of your errands done.

Start the process early by looking at online vendors like Carmax, Carvana and Blue Book to see how much you’ll get for your car. Get it clean and in tip-top shape, so it sells for the maximum amount possible. Schedule a pick-up at your apartment for convenience and sell it to the best offer.

15. Time to move

Almost there! You’ve prepared, and the moment is here. It’s time to move. You’re more prepared than most for your move out of state. You’ve said your goodbyes, you’re checked into your flight and the movers have your couch.

16. Update your pet’s microchip and registration

Before getting too settled into your new place, update your pet’s microchip and registration in the new state. If they were to go missing, they would have an old address and make it hard to find you. Check if this new place has additional requirements beyond rabies shot and registration with the county.

It’s also an excellent time to find a 24-hour vet that’s close by for any emergencies while you unpack in the short term.

17. Get a new driver’s license and registration

Keep all documents up to date.

Keep all documents up to date.

Most states have a 30-day grace period for new residents to update their driver’s license and vehicle registration. Along with your pet’s registration, add this one to the top of your to-do list once you land in your new apartment. Visit the local DMV to get a new license and registration for your car.

Check if you need specific documents like a birth certificate or social security card. If you can’t find either (and who can blame you mid-move), you can go to the local social security administration branch and ask for a new one.

18. Register to vote in your new state

Don’t forget about doing your part for your country. Switch your voter registration as soon as you have your new address to allow time to update. Check where your voting precinct is, so you’re ready for election day. You can easily switch your voter registration online or at your local library.

Start reading about issues in your new state and get familiar with your representatives. Now that you have a new home, you have new things to fight for and worry about, no matter your political leaning.

19. Connect your utilities

Once you sign your lease, cancel your utilities at your current place and start calling local utility companies to create accounts for electricity, gas and internet access in your new apartment. Depending on your internet provider, you can just transfer service.

Get ready to set up an account and pay deposit fees. You should start this process at least two weeks before your move since utility companies often move slowly.

Check with your landlord to see if your lease includes any utilities, like water or trash.

20. Reach out to friends for local connections

Making new friends is hard! But if you reach out to your network and social media to share your news about moving out of state, be sure to ask if they can connect you with any pals in your new state, either via email or group text.

Schedule friend dates for your first month after your move to get to know your new neighborhood.

21. Change your mailing address

Mail slot

Mail slot

About a week before you move out of state, begin forwarding your mail with the U.S. Postal Service. Get ahead of any lost mail by changing your address in your streaming accounts, Amazon.com account and any magazine subscriptions you already get.

You don’t want to have a random package go to your old apartment because you didn’t forward mail after moving out of state.

22. Transfer your gym membership

If you’re lucky, your gym will have various locations around the country, and you can just transfer your membership. Let your gym, meal planning service and anything else within your routine know that you’re moving out of state. Make sure to cancel and get confirmation of any services that don’t transfer to your new place.

23. Find new doctors in your area

Don’t let your moving out of state keep you from your medical and dental routine. Ask colleagues in your new place if they have any recommendations for dentists, general practitioners and any other doctor you may need.

Your health insurance may also have a helpful directory of in-network providers so you can start finding your favorites.

24. Update the bank of your new location

It’s important to update your financial institutions that you’re moving out of state and are now residents of your new state. This isn’t just your primary bank. You need to update every financial institution, including your financial advisor, accountant, any investments and those that hold any retirement accounts.

25. Get settled in your new state

Settle in with new friends.

Settle in with new friends.

There’s no greater feeling than the one of relief when you have unpacked every box in your new apartment. Start a good routine for the first month of exploring a new restaurant, coffee shop or neighborhood near you. Getting to know your new town and making friend dates will help you feel settled in no time.

Ready to move to another state?

The moving process is stressful, with unexpected expenses, finding the right moving company and launching yourself into a new life. This moving out of state checklist will make your relocation a lot easier.

The weeks ahead will be uncomfortable as you settle into your new job and new neighborhood after the long-distance move. But slowly, you’ll meet new friends and find yourself as a regular in the corner coffee shop.

Source: rent.com

Best Jobs for Military Spouses and Where to Find Them

All marriages require work and dedication, but being a military spouse to an active-duty member of the armed forces involves extra commitment and flexibility.
You don’t need to be a CPA to be a bookkeeper. You don’t even need to be in the same town as your clients!
If writing isn’t your specialty, there is always a need for freelance graphic designers, video editors, those who know computer coding, and executive assistants. These nine freelance websites will help you start connecting with clients.
Expect to deliver transcription assignments within a few days — or even hours — of receiving them.
There are few costs in setting up a bookkeeping business, and you can earn an hour in this specialty.

Opportunity Abounds With Remote Work

Fast, accurate typists can make to per hour as transcriptionists. Transcriptionists are needed especially in the legal and medical worlds, where lawyers and doctors will often verbalize client and patient notes and then rely on a transcriptionist to convert those audio clips into written notes.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work is more popular now than ever.
Private tutors can expect to earn to per hour.
Some fields are especially well-suited for military spouses and their often-changing life circumstances. Check out these promising fields.

Resources for Military Spouses on the Job Hunt

Some virtual assistant jobs can begin to mix with other tasks such as creating editorial or social media calendars, having a hand in planning company events, or onboarding other employees.

  • USA JOBS: This website that posts open jobs in the federal government also has an initiative designed to help spouses of active-duty military members find a government job. A job is not guaranteed, but the program allows you to apply in a “non-competitive” environment and then have your resume reviewed to see if you may be a good fit for any open federal government roles.
  • National Labor Exchange: The NLX has an entire search engine dedicated to finding jobs that are not tied to a location and are work-from-home-friendly.
  • Hiring Our Heroes: The organization “connects the military community with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.” You can leverage Hiring Our Heroes to attend in-person and virtual hiring events, fellowships that allow you to work in the civilian workforce, and networking sessions to meet other military spouses.
  • USO Pathfinder Transition Program: This program serves to help active duty military members, veterans, and military spouses find and keep careers that are rewarding to them. The Program provides professional development and job counseling to help individuals craft an action plan to find a job or career path they love.
  • Military One Source: Military One Source has myriad resources for military spouses considering a job or looking for a new one. Whether you want to search for a job, improve your resume or pursue further education, Military One Source has guidance on how to reach your goals.
  • VirtForce: VirtForce is an online network dedicated to helping military spouses find sustainable telecommuting and remote work. VirtForce has a military spouse community of more than 60,000 spouses, providing them with free training and networking to help land and keep a job.
  • Career Pursuit: This not-for-profit magazine, published annually, provides consolidated career advice to the military spouse community. Career Pursuit has grown so much in popularity it is now backed by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
  • LockHeed Martin: The technology company that works closely with the U.S. government, is dedicated to helping military spouses explore a variety of career paths. LockHeed Martin provides a military spouse fellowship. The fellowship is similar to an internship and allows military spouses to get hands-on training and experience in the civilian professional world. LockHeed Martin provides training and guidance to spouses in the fellowship, as well.
  • USAA: The military-focused insurance provider, has its own military spouse employment program. You can search by location, level of education and years of experience.
A woman works from home.
Getty Images

Career Paths for Military Spouses

You can proofread transcripts, like court proceedings or medical dictation, blogs, journals and book manuscripts. Using just an iPad, you could make about per hour no matter where in the country (or world) you are located.

1. Freelancing or Contract Work

From kids to adults, tutoring services are always in demand.
Freelancing covers a multitude of fields, but freelance writing is an especially popular pursuit.
Virtual assistants are generally contractors and may work on a fixed-term schedule of employment. This can work well with any predicted moves or hectic times in your life, too.

2. Virtual Assistant

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-from-Home jobs portal is updated five days a week with new remote opportunities, many in customer service positions. Bookmark it and check it often!
If you can catch a typo quicker than anyone, consider working as a proofreader.
Thanks to this trend, military spouses have a wealth of job opportunities to pursue without needing to explain an upcoming move or inability to come into an office.
Even if a job description doesn’t explicitly state it is remote-friendly, it is still worth applying to. You may find via conversations with the recruiter or hiring manager that they will consider remote applicants who are well-suited for a role.

3. Transcribing

Everyone needs their hair cut eventually, right? No matter where your base is, folks will need a haircut. Although you will need some basic training in order to be able to cut hair well, hair stylists make between ,000 – ,000 per year before tips (which can add up to 20% on top of your base salary).
The frequent moves, specificity of military culture and sometimes remote living areas all contribute to the difficulties a military spouse may face when looking to build their career.

4. Hairstyling

Military families are required to relocate, every few years or even more than once in a year, and the moves can sometimes be sudden and unpredictable. This lifestyle can make it tough to hold down consistent jobs as a military spouse, 88% of whom are female.

5. Proofreading

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on military topics, lifestyle and wellness. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Here is a guide to finding the best jobs for military spouses.

6. Customer Service

Thousands of call center jobs in retail, health care, airlines and many more fields shifted to remote work during the pandemic.
Virtual assistants provide organizational help all via online applications. You may be asked to manage someone’s meeting schedule and emails or coordinate when an office is due to reorder supplies.

7. Tutor

Freelancing can be an excellent path for military spouses because it is often remote and flexible schedule-wise. As a freelancer, you are self-employed, but may be hired on as a temporary contractor for a company to help them complete a project or to backfill a position for a specific duration of time.
You don’t have to start from scratch searching for a suitable job. Here are free career resources available for military spouses.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

8. Social Media Management

Work with home-schooled students on subjects their parents aren’t confident teaching; offer after-school sessions in students’ homes or at the library; or work with a tutoring company to host SAT prep classes.

9. Bookkeeping

Small business owners know they need to have a social media presence, but many don’t have the time or know-how. If you’re comfortable and knowledgeable about the most popular platforms, you could manage social media accounts for small businesses.
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In fact, many employers view having a widespread workforce as a strength, bringing geographic diversity and tapping talent pools nationwide. <!–

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Becoming a virtual assistant is a fantastic way to earn at least K per year (and as much as in the six-digits) from the comfort of home — wherever that may be.