Portable degrees: education that travels with you

June 27, 2017

A portable career gives people the freedom to choose where they want to live and work, all while they continue to grow in a profession.

It also gives people the flexibility to organize their career to fit their lifestyle. For many individuals, such as military spouses, finding the right degree program to support a portable career is a must.

John Hayes, manager and associate director of specialized services at Capella University, explains options and resources available for portable careers and degrees that support them.

Q. What are portable careers? How is the military supporting them?

           A. The U.S. State Department defines “portable career” as finding employment in one’s area of training on a regular basis. These are commonly understood to be professions that are more likely to be in demand wherever someone lives, either at home or abroad. Two common examples are teaching and nursing, which tend to be considered highly transferable and universally needed positions.

When the Department of Defense created the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account Scholarship (MyCAA), it acknowledged the growing number of spouses of active military service members who wanted to pursue their own career and education goals. The goal of MyCAA scholarships is to drive and encourage portable careers, specifically for spouses of military members.

Q. What fields are a good fit for individuals or their families with portable careers?

           A. Nursing, health care, and information technology fields are a great fit for portable careers. Teaching is another popular portable career field, although this can sometimes be difficult due to licensing requirements throughout the states.

When considering which degree options are good for portable careers, it’s important to consider your career phase and whether licensure will be a factor. Although the nursing and teaching fields are considered portable, certain educational paths might be more desirable than others.

Sometimes, the higher the degree you have, the less portable the career options become. Practitioner level is often the most mobile.

Q. What degree options does Capella offer to support portable careers?

           A. Nursing, education, and information technology are typically seen as the most portable careers because they represent needs that aren’t geographically restricted and skills that can be easily transferable from employer to employer. Capella offers degrees in all three areas.
  • Nursing. A BSN or an MSN program can provide additional skills and competencies to nurses who want to advance their careers and potentially improve the likelihood of transferring employment in the event of relocation. These degrees also may open up additional specialized employment opportunities, such as home health care and elder care. The latter is a unique opportunity for military spouses, as military retirees are often in residence in the communities near military installations.
  • Education. One of the perceived challenges in education comes down to licensure. However, state reciprocity agreements lessen this burden, and other obstacles can be overcome by thoughtful and proactive planning. Master’s and doctoral-level education programs may open up opportunities for adjunct positions in local community colleges or online teaching.
  • Information Technology. In IT, help desk and support positions are practically ubiquitous. These are great entry-level positions for those with an undergraduate IT degree. Higher-level positions can be attained with more specialized education through certifications or even graduate work. Programming is another good option, making a programming boot camp from a provider like Hackbright Academy or DevMountain, sister schools of Capella University, a worthwhile investment.

As for other portable degrees to consider, social work and behavioral science careers are entering the landscape, particularly pertaining to marriage and family therapy on military bases. There has also been growing discussion around homeland security and other civil service positions becoming more mobile, but this is all still in the works. The portability of such careers is something to watch for in the future.

Learn more about Capella University’s online degree programs and certificates.

Important Information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rate of students who attended these programs.

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