Contracting work worth a look post-military?

Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
Hey all. I posted on here a little over 2 years ago, talking about how I was entering the military for IT experience, with plans on gaining some certifications in the process, and here I am. I am deployed to Iraq, and have been for the past 10 months (with another 5 months to go). My job typically involves help desk oriented issues (you know, unplugged computers, e-mail that won't work, need a printer set up, etc), although thankfully, our GD contractor has noticed that I am much more of an asset on the network side, and that being said, I have been put in much more of a hands on role with our network, which spans an area the size of Pensylvania. I can't complain, considering I'm still 20 years old. I am scheduled to take my CCNA here in June, which should be no issue. I usually spend my time at work teaching basic networking to anyone who will listen, so I am pretty confident on the CCNA, though I need to review.

Moving on, I have 3 years left after getting home in November, and though a long ways away- I am thinking of my IT career after the military. Person after person (usually military) have said "contract..it's great...", and I have always pushed that notion out the window. I fully intend on holding a CCNP by the time I finish my career here, and am also working on a Bachelors in the process- though it is slow, thanks to distance learning via the internet. Down to the point. Is contracting really so great? My biggest objection to contracting is that I have a pretty good idea of where I'd like to end working in IT (midwest...will be married somewhat soon), and I feel contracting may pull me away from that area. For whatever it is worth, I do hold a Secret clearance. Can anyone who has knowledge and/or experience shed some light on the pro's and con's of contracting for the government? I'd appreciate it greatly. Thank you all for your help. I'm sure I'll be around here for a few more years...


V/R
Mike

Comments

  • sprkymrksprkymrk Posts: 4,884Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Contracting is usually great pay, great benefits, great working environments, and horrible job security. You could be let go at any time due to contract issues or BRAC.

    Best of luck on your upcoming CCNA. Keep your head down, stay safe, and thanks for serving. icon_cool.gif
    All things are possible, only believe.
  • drakhan2002drakhan2002 Posts: 111Member
    Mrock4 wrote:
    I fully intend on holding a CCNP by the time I finish my career here, and am also working on a Bachelors in the process- though it is slow, thanks to distance learning via the internet.

    Get your Bachelor's and CCNP if at all possible. Those are awesome skills and education. Have you thought about the private sector? I can say that a person with that bag of skills would EASILY land a job at any business...
    Mrock4 wrote:
    Down to the point. Is contracting really so great? My biggest objection to contracting is that I have a pretty good idea of where I'd like to end working in IT (midwest...will be married somewhat soon), and I feel contracting may pull me away from that area.

    I live in the Midwest, Cincinnati, OH to be exact. I have a friend who is a contractor and loves it. However, keep in mind, if you're going independent, you'll have to do all your own taxes and health care insurance, etc. Some people find that a little tedious, since they want to do the techie thing and not the business thing. You'll put in the long hours, but you'll get paid handsomely...however, you need to "know" people to get contracts...which also can prove difficult for some. That's why you might want to find a job in the private sector for a few years to build up a network of business contacts you can use to parlay a independent contractor position.
    Mrock4 wrote:
    For whatever it is worth, I do hold a Secret clearance. Can anyone who has knowledge and/or experience shed some light on the pro's and con's of contracting for the government?

    That is HUGE, having government clearance. Not only for the government, but for private industry as well. There are tons of businesses that work with the government that require that. I know of people who have told me their clearance level alone got them a job.
    It's not the moments of pleasure, it's the hours of pursuit...
  • markzabmarkzab Posts: 619Member
    sprkymrk wrote:
    Best of luck on your upcoming CCNA. Keep your head down, stay safe, and thanks for serving. icon_cool.gif

    +1
    "You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!" - Rocky
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
    I'm very thankful to all of you that replied (and to the thank you's for serving, those take the edge off a deloyment that just got longer a couple of weeks ago!).

    I have been told the same about the security clearance, but I am trying to forget about that, because I feel if I sit back and say "I'll have a clearance, I should be good", that may make me focus less on my skills. I want to KNOW usable knowledge..I do want a CCNP- for job purposes, but I want to know a lot more.

    drakhan2002- I actually prefer the private sector to be honest. I have just been told by a lot of people that contracting is great after the military. I do see some good benefits (like the GD contractor here with a CCNA making $130-150k/yr...), but we will see. I have a strong interest in teaching IT down the road, but I have to know the material well enough to reach that point. I don't exect my bachelor's to be completed by the time my enlistment is over, frankly. Why? My bachelor's is currently in Intelligence studies (though I am changing my major now, and transfering, though it's a pain from here)..and frankly, I have more of an interest in studying the things I use in my job, routers, switches, servers, whatever it may be. I still do recognize I need to work on it, though.

    I need to get off here, I could probably talk forever, but I have to get down to business and study.
    Bit of an Off-Topic question- is it bad to be studying almost (not completely) exlusively CCNP/CCIE material? I am not studying BGP, but I prefer to study the material on CCNP mostly, since it goes more in-depth on the material than 99% of any CCNA books do. I don't see how it could be detrimental, but hey, what do I know!

    Take care all.

    V/R
    Mike
  • Darthn3ssDarthn3ss Posts: 1,096Member
    edit; decided to make thread on subject.


    relevant: good luck with your studies and thanks for serving :D
    Fantastic. The project manager is inspired.

    In Progress: 70-640, 70-685
  • milliampmilliamp Posts: 135Member
    This is why I like Military people.

    You are deployed in Iraq working on your CCNA, CCNP, and a bachelors degree. Most people think logging 45 hours in a week is difficult.

    I served for a while also, and although my clearance is still active I haven't done contracting due to family and living in a rural area, but I have some friends that have.

    You are probably right that contracting isn't the best long term career path for a family, but the pay is pretty good and so is the experience. It is also good way to meet other people in the industry from around the country.

    Often times contract work is fairly short term (4-6 month), so you can always do it for a little while and move on.

    When you first get out many employers may view you as too new to give you a high paying job, and putting your security clearance to use contracting would be a good compliment to you resume for when you do decide to settle into a full time job with one company.
  • buulambuulam Posts: 55Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I personally know a guy who served in the (Canadian) military and handled telecommunications. When he left, he joined [a very large firm] and consulted through them (attained his CCIE in this time). He left them after about 8 years (I think?) and consults through another firm, small group of CCIE's that dominate the area.

    My company has a close partnership with his so I work with him here and there. Very good guy, methodical in his work and knows his stuff EXTREMELY well. If the military always produces these types of people then more people should serve!
    Currently working on:
    CCNP (BCMSN, ONT, ISCW completed)
    HP ASE ProCurve Networking (BPRAN, Security completed)
  • strauchrstrauchr Posts: 528Member
    I've worked with a few ex-military guys in IT. Usually have very good troubleshooting and organisational skills. Very methodical. Always the first to put their hand up and give you a hand if you are carrying a heavy server or something.

    Military is very well regarded in IT. Personally if I was you I would get some "civillian" experience with a company first for a couple of years then go to the contracting world.

    I have done both contracting and permanent and there are pro and cons to both. If you want to build up skills and learn with little pressure on you go permanent.

    If you want to utilize your current skills and make serious money go contracting.

    Thats from a career perspective only, personal financial and family commitments may change.

    Just as a matter of interest. Have you heard many military people having trouble adjusting to working and living in the civilian world after they finish service. It seems like the military provide you with everything you need and you don't have the chance to go out and do it yourself. Just an observation and curiousity.
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
    I'm very late here but I wanted to respond to the last post, regarding military adjusting to the civilian life. Let me be the first to say I enjoy the military, but I view it more of a means to an end..a chapter in my life, not the whole book. We have a lot of guys getting out, and most don't have a solid plan or any credentials to back it up...most don't care. They're guys on their second or third deployments, just wanting to relax, and spend time with family and friends. There's a very small amount (I'd like to think I fall into this group), who has a solid plan, and has done the research, and put in the studying time, to make the transition from military to civilian not only smooth, but hopefully comfortable.

    The military definitely has helped with my troubleshooting skills. Not so much by teaching me, but by being thrown into situations where things "must" be fixed, and no civilian contractors are around to help. Plus, I have aimed much higher since joining- before joining, I wanted to serve, and then become a network admin/tech. Now, my goal is to eventually become a network engineer. I don't know if attaining the CCIE sometime in my career is possible but why not? It's just a test. A very, very, very difficult test/lab, but still a test.

    Take care all..can't wait to get back to the states..

    Mike
  • sprkymrksprkymrk Posts: 4,884Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Mrock4 wrote:
    Take care all..can't wait to get back to the states..
    Mike

    I fully support and applaud what you are doing out there, but I also can't wait until you all get back here safely. Despite what the "polls" say, America is still behind her soldiers and we are grateful for what you do.

    You take care as well. Keep in touch and let us know when you get home. We'll leave the light on for you..... Always.

    icon_thumright.gif
    All things are possible, only believe.
  • binarysoulbinarysoul Posts: 993Member
    Remember some employers may be reluctant to hire someone who has been with military in Iraq!

    Being there can work for or against you. Have you once in a while see tens of thousands of people taking to streets against the occupation? Please don't tell me there are no hiring managers among those demonstrators :)

    Good luck;
  • sprkymrksprkymrk Posts: 4,884Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    binarysoul wrote:
    Remember some employers may be reluctant to hire someone who has been with military in Iraq!

    Being there can work for or against you. Have you once in a while see tens of thousands of people taking to streets against the occupation? Please don't tell me there are no hiring managers among those demonstrators :)

    Good luck;

    I'm not sure about Canada, but here in the states those who are against the war do not hold the individual soldier accountable for that, just the politicians. So, maybe if a former senator or congressman tried to apply for a tech job he might have trouble, but not a soldier. icon_lol.gif
    All things are possible, only believe.
  • KasorKasor Posts: 912Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Just come home in one piece and you will do fine. Also, you might need to stay in MD, DC, VA area..., too.
    Kill All Suffer T "o" ReBorn
  • Mrock4Mrock4 Posts: 2,360Banned
    binarysoul wrote:
    Remember some employers may be reluctant to hire someone who has been with military in Iraq!

    Being there can work for or against you. Have you once in a while see tens of thousands of people taking to streets against the occupation? Please don't tell me there are no hiring managers among those demonstrators :)

    Good luck;

    I appreciate the kind words, but, if an employer has to think twice about hiring me based on my military service- then I don't want to work for that employer.

    Testing the CCNA tomorrow night. Unfortunately, I get off tonight at 0100, and have to be up again at 0500, until around 1700, then show up to my test..so it'll be a long day tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well. In the past few months I've hammered away at some more advanced concepts (mostly CCNP level)...I hope that didn't take away from the basics...
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