There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of overseas contract jobs for veterans available. But not all of these jobs are for “private security contractors,” you know, the scary looking guys with even scarier looking weapons. While “private security contractors” are the ones that seem to make all the headlines, there are many other overseas contract jobs available.
In fact, there are more overseas contract jobs available to veterans in support related fields than private security. So regardless of your skill set, you can rest assured you should be able to find a job overseas.
Taking an overseas assignment as a contractor is not all it’s cracked up to be. There are some serious considerations- like tax status- that you must take into consideration.
We interviewed several former military service members who also worked overseas with private contractors. Here is what you need to know about overseas contract jobs for veterans from the men and women who’ve been there.
Overseas Contract Jobs For Veterans – Tip No. 1
Salary. The salaries paid for overseas contract jobs are typically much higher than what would normally be paid for the same services stateside. Even so, just like here in the states, what you earn will depend on the job, your skill set, and experience. You should also take into consideration why these jobs pay more money; you will be going to a high-risk area.
Taxes. If you are going to take a job overseas, you need to read IRS publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad. Here is why:
Citizens and resident aliens of the United States who live and work abroad are still subject to federal income tax. Don’t think you can get away with not reporting your earnings and keeping them secret. The U.S. government has treaties with lots of countries, allowing them to request tax data on you.
If nothing else, remember this: if you take an overseas contract job and choose not to file a tax return for that year… the statute of limitations never runs out, the government will get their taxes.
Bottom Line: there are some very serious tax consequences for taking an overseas contract job for veterans. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s tax-free. Always check with a tax professional before you take the job.
Overseas Contract Jobs For Veterans – Tip No. 2
Living arrangements, environment, vacation, and benefits – these are the important topics to ask about. Many veterans see the dollar signs when taking an overseas assignment, and forget to ask the important questions.
Living arrangements: your living quarters can range from a tent to a condo. So make sure you ask where you will be staying. Especially if you are taking a contract in a known hostile area. For example, several private security contract firms offer “condo” style living arrangements for its personnel. However, security was being provided by the host nation (Kuwait). When it comes to your personal safety, you may want to consider an employer who offers U.S. security personnel or who operates from a U.S. installation.
Environment: Don’t expect a tropical resort destination. Most overseas contract jobs for veterans are located in third world countries or actual “combat zones.” Make sure you review and research your area of operation. Also, make sure to review what amenities- if any- are available. A warm shower and hot coffee can go a long way in boosting your morale.
Work Schedule: Don’t expect a typical nine-to-five job. Overseas contract jobs usually consist of some pretty grueling schedules. One contractor required 12-hour days, six days a week. Know what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line.
Vacation and benefits: If you are taking an overseas contract that is going to last a year or more, you are going to want to make sure you get a vacation. You are going to need it. Areas where overseas contract jobs for veterans are available are usually very high stress, high demand areas. Also, make sure you know who is going to pay for your vacation.
For example, one private contractor offered four weeks of paid vacation to anywhere in Europe, all expenses included. Just make sure you know what you are getting.
Travel, Health, and other insurance. It’s a fact. Kidnapping for ransom has become an international business. For example, in Mexico alone, kidnappings have grown by 245 percent. And that’s just the numbers that are reported. So make sure you have your insurance in place. Double check to see what type of insurance your potential employer is offering, and insist on K&R (kidnapping and ransom) insurance… PERIOD.
Overseas Contract Jobs For Veterans – Tip No. 3
Make sure you know the rules of engagement. Especially when it comes to firearms and self-defense laws. If the country allows it, seriously consider purchasing a firearm. You can always pawn or resell it when your tour is done.
If you are not a “shooter” (I.E. received comprehensive training on firearms) make sure you get the training you need before you go overseas. There is an old adage in special operations: “Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
Finally, you need to be aware of a change that was made in 2007. It’s called the “MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007.) And it has very serious implications for private American citizens working abroad. In short, Congress amended the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to allow U.S. civilians working for the U.S. military to be subject to the UCMJ.
Bottom Line: If you are thinking about taking an overseas contract job where you’ll be working for the U.S. military, you better read the UCMJ.
If, after all of this, you are still considering taking an overseas contract job for veterans, the State Department has a great library of resources for you. Here is an additional website that keeps a pretty accurate list of overseas contractors.