Living and working overseas can present a myriad of employment opportunities that would not otherwise be available domestically. To understand the scope of jobs that may be available, you must first understand what an overseas – or civilian – contractor is.

Overseas contractors are more commonly referred to as civilian contractors, ordinary men and women who work ordinary jobs in countries around the world. Many of the open positions are with private companies who have been contracted by the US or foreign government to perform a specific role or function. Consequently, many of the civilian contractor jobs overseas are located in what would be considered hot spots, or areas of civil unrest. Because of the inherent risk of living and working in a militarized zone or political hot spot, these jobs tend to pay very well. According to the most recent numbers available, the average civilian overseas contractor earned $93,961 in 2012,  compared to an average US household income of $51,371 for the same year.

What Types of Jobs Are Available?

You don’t have to join the military to get one of these jobs. Most, if not all, are through private companies that have offices in the region. Industries in healthcare, engineering, finance and accounting, construction and education are just some of the fields represented. Furthermore, the level of education and training required for the available positions is also broad, putting opportunities in reach for employees with different levels of education.

If you are considering working as an overseas contractor, it’s important to understand that, in most cases, you can’t just show up and get a job. Related experience with companies that have operations in foreign countries is the best route to employment. Furthermore, language skills will increase the number of opportunities that may be available to you.

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Why Do These Jobs Pay So Well?

In addition to skill sets, the primary reason many of these jobs have salary thresholds far above the norm is that they are located in dangerous places around the world. The risk to personal safety is substantially higher, even as a civilian contractor, when you are living and working in these areas. Risks can include kidnapping, explosions, gunfire, and chaotic situations – not the type of risks you would typically experience in an office job in the United States.

Are The Employment Terms Similar to Regular Jobs?

Working as a civilian contractor overseas can have its perks, but you should also familiarize yourself with some of the other expectations related to the location. Many of the jobs have shifts that may be as long as 12 hours. A typical 9 to 5 setup is rare when you are in a civilian military job or overseas contracted position.  Your living environment may also be very different from what you are accustomed to, in some cases requiring shared living space with minimal amenities such as indoor plumbing, regular electricity and wifi.


Many professional overseas contractors receive vacation and other benefits such as healthcare, but keep in mind that travel outside of the area in which you are working may be severely limited for safety reasons. These aren’t the kinds of jobs that permit you to easily get away for a relaxing weekend.

Are Overseas Contractor Jobs Rewarding?

Civilian jobs related to the army and other branches of the military can be extremely rewarding. Consider that many of the positions are in places that are not currently under file or in destabilized zones. These positions can offer greater flexibility if you want to work in a foreign country but aren’t ready to experience an austere or dangerous living environment.

Depending on your position you may or may not be interacting with local people. If you prefer a more indigenous experience be sure to inquire about the level of engagement with people outside your immediate work environment.

How Do I Find an Overseas Civilian Contractor Job?

There are thousands of opportunities available for people who want to work in an army civilian hob or other overseas civilian contractor capacity. The best place to start is with your current employer if you already have a job. If they have an international presence, discuss foreign opportunities with the human resources department.

Job sites such as, and all have listings for a variety of positions. Despite the inherent risks associated with many of these positions, they are desirable and highly sought after so begin your search using your current skill set as a reference point. Also keep in mind that some of these jobs require security clearance, so you may be required to give more information that you might if it was a “normal” job.

Possessing a sense of adventure and an open mind may be the most important skills for a job as an overseas contractor. These positions can be very financially lucrative, but more importantly, they can truly be the experience of a lifetime.

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