Another Vet looking to becoming a Civilian again

CCNTraineeCCNTrainee Member Posts: 213
Hello everybody, I took a long break from this site as well as my studies after achieving my A+, N+ and CCENT while on my second tour in Afghanistan, now I am back at home getting ready to go to Korea... Right now I am in the middle of some life decisions, but I do know after this next adventure I am done with the Service.

So I got a few questions to ask... I have a little bit more then a year left, more if I decided to extend. When would be a good time to start feeling the waters for a job?? I am looking to settle in Arizona, Vegas or the South California area, was wondering if anyone has experience in the field out in those areas. I am looking to specialized in computer networking and virtualization, I would prefer to work in a NOC environment if possible, but will do my time on the help desk if I have to settle with that. I am not worried about finding a job but I am not expecting to get my dream job title as soon as I get out. Right now I am more focused on the location I want to settle rather then the money and the tri-state area I mentioned is where I want to be.

I am currently working on getting as much college credits as I can while I am still in and should have an Associates by the time I separate from the Service. I'm not planning on getting a Bachelors while I am in, I actually want to experience the college life and the social experience from it. I was wondering if anyone has gone to college in any of those areas and how much they enjoyed their experience. Hoping to complete a degree in the sorts of Computer/Information technology, not Computer Science (seems to appeal to Programmers).

Lastly, I was wondering if anyone could chime in on the difference of working in IT for the Govt vs the Private Sector??? If I was to become a defense contractor would that count the same as working for the Govt?? Main reason I ask is because I have a security clearance and rather not see it go to waste if possible. There is some other things I want to ask, but can't remember at the moment. Anyways thank you for your help and time. :)


  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    A year out you want to start making connections, I worked with a guy for a full year, keeping him updated on my status; and 6 months out start applying. I understand you have an area where you want to go, but it may be smarter to go where the money and jobs are now, and move to your dream area later. Base your decision on the job outlook, and feedback from your recruiter POC's. Look on the sites,, clearancejobs, USA Jobs, and other,s don't forget state jobs and veterans jobs boards. look at positions you are interested in and see what the requirements are, spend your year saving money and getting those skills and experience. This is the year where you want to volunteer for (related)things outside of your normal job duties and get things that are going to make your resume shine. Make sure to get numbers, how many people do you support in your environment, how many tickets you complete.

    Gov can be difficult to get an in on without knowing someone, federal resumes will almost always DQ you IME, you can consider getting a service to create one for you. I cant well contrast gov vs. civilian, except that civilian supposedly has less... well its difficult to describe, each agency has its own quirks, and there will be some of the same issues in each. Regulation rules, until it doesn't. And people are always scared to do what needs to be done.


    Contracting is nice, you are not a federal employee while working on a contract, but contacts matter. Often contractors will be preferred in gov hires within the same orginization. (if you work for NSA as a CNO Contractor, and a GS (or the NSPS equivalent) position opened, you could reasonably apply and receive the position.) You can retain your clearance by contracting or actual federal employment.
  • da_vatoda_vato Member Posts: 445
    Are you set on doing Networking or are you open to other IT opportunities? Are you dead set on those three states or are you open to other locations as well?

    Contracting is an easy gig to get as a Vet. The networking that comes from it is priceless so I believe DoD contracting is an excellent first job for a veteran. I took a contracting job when I got out and have been promoted three times and offered two different GS positions all from the networking I have done in this area.

    Its a little scary getting out because there is so much that is unknown and it is a entire life change. I personally think you are on the right track, get all the education you can. The more credentials you have that some else doesn't helps getting a job that much easier for you.
  • jeffgibbsjeffgibbs Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Ok here is my two cents worth of advice. I came off of active duty and stayed in the FT Hood Area. I stayed here precisely because I knew my expertise as a Signal Corps Warrant Officer would easily help me find a job in the area and it did. The thing about the contracting world is that while the pay is often good sometimes it is unpredictable as well. One day in late April of 2006 we were all called together and a Full Bird Colonel told us he had budget cutbacks being forced on him and 25 of us would be let go by the end of the next month. Just like that. We had not done anything wrong but just like that the Army changed its mind / priorities and a pretty good job evaporated in the blink of an eye.

    After that job I was able to get a TERM Government Service Position with the FT Hood Department of Information Management (DOIM). That was a great job. I loved every second of it. Worked in the routing and switching department and had a blast. Being that it was a TERM position that was funded by the GWOT funding a year later it to went away. That really sucked. The position when I took it had been forecasted to run at least five years but conditions and funding associated with GWOT … changed and so did my employment status . Today I am again a contractor during the recent budget battle with Congress and the president my friends who are still government employees suffered with furloughs and what not. Other contractors around me got laid off but my contract weathered it fine knock on wood. People traditionally look to these types of jobs for their stability however my experience has been that they can in fact be just as unstable as anything else.

    Working in Government IT as a contractor versus doing it as Government GS employee is slightly different. As a contractor you would be an employee of your contracting company and your benefits package as well as your retirement package would come from them. As a GS employee you would be participating in the TSP program except with matching or at least partial matching contributions from the government. As a former service member your military service has the potential to carry over and benefit you again in your GS Career. I believe it will also allow you to accrue leave and sick time faster as well.
    Here are some things to consider and keep in mind. In your position I might consider doing the following things: First, finish that CCNA up. Second consider joining the Guard or Reserves when you leave active duty. This way you will still continue to build towards a military pension, have access to Tricare Reeve Select medical benefits which are in my experience both good and much cheaper than employer paid benefit plans. You can also participate in the TSP for Reservists as well. Serving in the guard or reserves will also keep you eligible for tuition assistance and other military training and it will maintain your clearance. Third keep your credit squeaky clean. That seems to be tripping up a lot of guys and gals these days as far as their clearance goes. Given the length of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan who in the service doesn’t have a bad divorce and screwed up credit? For awhile it seemed epidemic at least in the Army. If you think you want to manage any kind of government network you will need a clearance even as a civilian.

    I hope that this helps. I am sorry if I rambled a bit but I was writing it off the top of my head. If you have questions about anything I mentioned don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Grafixx01Grafixx01 Member Posts: 106 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I can tell you that trying to get a GS position, as a vet or not as a vet, is becoming harder and harder. Budget issues and skill sets are the critical elements that have a huge affect on government jobs being either contractor or a GS employee. I can tell you that your service time DOES carry over but ONLY for accruing sick leave and annual leave at a greater rate than those who retire from the Military or just come into service. Everyone starts out with 4hrs on sick leave but non-retired Vets start with 6hrs per pay period on annual leave, then after a certain amount of years, you will go up to 8hrs per pay period. I would not limit yourself on geographical locations for jobs, especially if you're looking more towards government work.
  • zxbanezxbane Member Posts: 740 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I got out a couple years ago after 4 years of service and have had no problem finding contracting jobs, which is heavily attributed to the area I live/d in. I was down in Norfolk/VB area and found plenty of work and since then have moved closer to NOVA and have found even more work. However I will say as far as GS positions go, I have applied to many of them, even with a 10 pt preference and have had no leads whatsoever. It seems in my experience that GS positions typically are granted to someone who knows someone or created with a candidate in mind ahead of time who it will go to.
  • MunkinMunkin Member Posts: 9 ■■■□□□□□□□
    zxbane wrote: »
    However I will say as far as GS positions go, I have applied to many of them, even with a 10 pt preference and have had no leads whatsoever. It seems in my experience that GS positions typically are granted to someone who knows someone or created with a candidate in mind ahead of time who it will go to.

    This is what I have found as well for GS positions. I scored a 104 out of 100 points for one position and did not even get an interview.

  • CCNTraineeCCNTrainee Member Posts: 213
    Thank you for the feedback everyone... I see I forget to mention some other things when it came to the job portion of my post.. If I have to settle being in the states, I would prefer the area I mentioned as I am not really a fan of the East coast and being stationed in the South for almost 6 years, I have a new found hatred for humidity. Thou I am open to the idea of being out there again if I can settle for a Job that travels often and goes international. Another thing I want to point out is if I really wanted to go for the money, I would just go to into a Conflict area since I have always loved the deployed environment, spent almost a year in crap conditions of no food, no showers, burning my own feces; so living a few years in a hell hole wouldn't be a problem for the right price.

    Anyways, I am looking to specialized into Networking since it is something I wanted to get into before I even joined the military. I just happened to luck out in getting my current career field of computer networking when I joined the Service, thou depending on luck doing military IT doesn't amount to much since you can range from doing anything including things out of your career field, like Convoy Security Augmentee for 14 months on my first tour in the Stan. (/rant) Anyways I am open into doing other fields in IT depending on the opportunities being presented at the time. My dream career path is Networking+Servers, Virtualization, Cyber Security, when I get burned out jump into management like Project Mgmt, Healthcare IT, Info Operations and maybe retire as a Chief Info Officer.

    I am looking to jump into the Guard or Reserves, mostly because I like deploying. I know my skills/experience in military IT won't transfer as much as I would like in the civilian sector due to how the service likes to under mind resources and take away admin rights on what we can actually do on the network. I don't expect to get the GS positions any time soon as well, since majority of the openings require a Bachelors in the first place, i'll probably have a better chance in getting a Contracting job before I even qualify in getting a GS.
  • aftereffectoraftereffector Member Posts: 525
    Where in Korea are you going? Hopefully one of the strat companies... I was in the one in Area IV for a couple of years, and we had a very good NETMAN team with a lot of responsibility.
    CCIE Security - this one might take a while...
  • dopedsmurfdopedsmurf Member Posts: 36 ■■□□□□□□□□
    In my opinion, stay away from government jobs unless you are content with making less money in exchange for an easier job. I understand that I am making a generalization here, so I apologize to anyone working in the government - I don't mean any offence.

    That being said, to illustrate my point, I am a former US Navy veteran who served 5 years as an IT. My best friend served right along side me doing more or less the same job. He worked on the unclassified stuff, while I was on the intelligence side (secret/ts) network. Either way, more or less the same experience and familiarization with like-equipment.

    When he got out, he accepted a government IT job at the VA hospital making something around 60k a year. Granted, his day to day responsibilities were fairly minimal and it suited his needs. When I got out, I jumped into contracting starting at around 95k a year. After working my butt off for some time, I was offered an FTE permanent position in the private sector making around 125k a year.

    I don't mean to come across as arrogant or bragging or anything like that, but I am hoping that I am really illustrating the difference in pay between government and private. I will also mention that I live in the Seattle area, which has a lot of big IT companies, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc. Point being, the demand is high here.

    My vote is to pursue a job in the private sector, assuming you don't mind working hard to bring home a larger paycheck. Start looking at jobs in the area you are interested in. Look at what jobs are constantly in demand. Look at the average pay for those positions. Ensure your resume is in good order. Start making connections, such as a good head hunter. They are just as motivated to find you a job as you are... because of course they get a cut as well.

    I don't want to ramble on too much, but I am more than willing to answer any questions you might have (if I can). Hope this helps.
  • QordQord Senior Member Member Posts: 632 ■■■■□□□□□□
    CCNTrainee wrote: »
    I am currently working on getting as much college credits as I can while I am still in

    This is my only regret about my time served. I took one class while I was in, and I didn't take it seriously at all. I often wonder how much further along in life I'd be if I had been smarter about my education earlier on.
  • dopedsmurfdopedsmurf Member Posts: 36 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Qord wrote: »
    This is my only regret about my time served. I took one class while I was in, and I didn't take it seriously at all. I often wonder how much further along in life I'd be if I had been smarter about my education earlier on.

    If it makes you feel any better, I completed almost 2 years of skill while on active duty through tuition assistance. There were also times that instructors were flown on-board our ship, that i took advantage of... it was exhausting.

    When I got out of the navy and got accepted into a top #10 school for computer science, I did nothing but slack off because I was so burnt out. I ended up dropping out and taking a nice long break, and eventually just got lucky and landed a solid job.

    The point here being, who knows what else would have changed if you had done more classes while serving? Maybe you would have gotten burnt out too? Maybe you wouldn't have got to enjoy your experience as much with friends or whatever other activities? Who knows? No regrets.
  • SephStormSephStorm Member Posts: 1,732
    The vast majority of the SM I knew when I was in, the ones who completed a degree were all sr. ncos who were just completing a degree years in. Its rarely easy.
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