Working on a Military Base

Perks for Civilians

civilian employees help military. Getty Images/John Parrot/Stocktrek Images

You don’t need to wear a military uniform to work on a military base. Military branches are slimming down their active duty numbers to cut costs, and by allowing civilians to do some jobs that aren’t military specific, they’re able to put servicemembers to better use by having them do jobs that can’t be done by civilians, such as pilots, communications specialists, and mechanics. If you’re a civilian and thinking about taking a job on a military base, good old Uncle Sam offers a number of perks.


The long lines and annoyance associated with entering through the main gate of a base actually have an upside: your safety. Everyone who enters a base is subject to search, which means that it’s less likely than in the civilian world that someone will smuggle a weapon into the workplace.


While the base exchanges and commissary facilities are off limits to government employees, you still have access to a number of other on-base amenities. Not many civilians have access to a free, state of the art gym steps from their office. Civilian employees may also have access to educational facilities where they can take classes or take proctored exams. The military places a high value on self-improvement, and that’s something you can benefit from.

Live on Base

Most bases don’t allow government or civilian employees to live on base, mostly due to the number of active duty members who have priority. However, thanks to the personnel cutbacks, some bases aren’t able to fill their housing with active duty members, and they may make vacant housing available to certain government employees. In some rare cases, such as Dover Air Force Base, they are allowing civilians with no military ties, whatsoever, to live in base housing.

Base Activities

Military bases are known for their mandatory fun days and large-scale events, such as airshows and obstacle courses. With your DoD ID card, you may have access to these events. On base gyms are always trying to come up with fun, new fitness ideas such as 5k Turkey Trots or Halloween Costume Runs. In addition, you may have access to discounted tickets to places and events all over the local area, and to reduced-cost rentals for items such as boats and jet skis.

Great Work Environment

The military is known for its tight-knit, collaborative work environment. At many civilian sector jobs, employees clock in at 8:00 am and clock out at 5:00 pm and never see their coworkers outside of work. On base, however, servicemembers often put in the extra effort to get together outside of work, knowing that those personal connections can improve on-the-job performance. In military workplaces, there’s also a clearly defined hierarchy and leadership structure, which can sometimes be lacking in the civilian world. Sure, there’s a CEO and managers, but it’s often confusing to navigate the executive suite.

Resume Boost

There’s something to be said about adding a DoD entity to your resume. Future employers will be able to see that you’re trustworthy, can function in high-pressure environments, and can work on million-dollar projects. If you ever decide to transfer to another base or DoD facility, you’ll already have the lingo and background knowledge that many employers are looking for.

If you ever get the chance to work on a military base, you should jump at the chance. Consider the perks of working on base to be part of your overall compensation. In the civilian world, you’d be charged for a lot of the amenities you get for free (or at a significant discount) on base. Plus, it’ll be hard to match the opportunities for personal and career growth that civilian military employees get.