Author Topic: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life  (Read 6463 times)

captainawesome

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Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« on: February 05, 2015, 07:04:08 AM »
So as the title alludes to, I've decided to transition out of the military for something different.  I have accomplished all that I set out to do when I first entered, and  discovered over the last two years that my Active Duty career prospects do not excite me, and I do not find the same job satisfaction as in previous years.  I'm sitting at 8 years of service (O3), and still have about two years before I would be in zone for promotion.  Still playing around with the idea of staying in the reserves, but mostly I'm just looking for a new challenge and high job satisfaction.

With that out of the way, are there any Veteran mustachians that have some lessons learned/recommendations for the transition?  I have already taken the transition GPS course, updated linkedin, crafted civilian resumes, and narrowed down acceptable locations to live.  Anything else you would recommend to aide in the job prospecting? 

For anyone else, I haven't been a civilian since 17, and now approaching my 30th birthday, I may be slightly out of touch with civilian life. I've narrowed down locations to the Southeastern US (Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta), Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, Austin), Florida (Tampa), Colorado (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs) and Mid-atlantic (Philadelphia).  I've heard Montana is a veteran friendly state, just not sure of the job market up there.  I'm trying to avoid the beltway if at all possible, and the wife wasn't too keen on California or PNW based on COL.  Any input for the areas or any areas I may have overlooked for good COL/career prospects?  Thanks in advance. 

RunHappy

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2015, 07:40:59 AM »
I transitioned out of the military when I was 23 (after 6 years in), but it was during the dot.com boom and I had a lot of computer skills that transitioned easily into civilian life.  If I only had my military-given job I don't think I would have been able to find a job outside of DoD contractor doing the exact same job I was doing in the military.  One of my friends was an officer and had a very military-like job, something that just didn't translate to civilian.  Despite their education and military experience they have struggled with $10-$12/hr jobs (no benefits) for the last few years.  This is a tough transition to make when they were previously making an O-3 salary.

What kind of jobs/careers are you targeting?  What is your current job in the service.  What sector do you want to go into?  I hate to say it but if you had a very military-like job then you might consider being a DoD contractor.  Companies want to hire vets, but it doesn't always work out well because the skills just do not translate.

My biggest tip is to get outside/civilian help on getting your resume out of military terms and into civilian terms. Find a recruiter who specializes in transitioning finding vets civilian jobs. 

purplepants

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2015, 09:16:50 AM »
Following, because this is something I've been stressing out about lately.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 09:42:47 AM »
Thank you for your service.

What are your skills/interests?

I always recommend firefighter for anyone in decent shape.  Professionally the schedule leaves you the freedom to pursue your own stuff on the side.  Compensation-wise you are sort of forced to pursue your own stuff on the side.  It's a super-fun job though if you're into that sort of thing.

Did you pick up a degree while you were in?

I've liked all the vets I worked with, though it was a little strange at first working with a drafter who was a former demolitions specialist.  "If the round is large enough, you only really need one" was a favorite saying of his.  Good times.

civil

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 10:02:18 AM »
So as the title alludes to, I've decided to transition out of the military for something different.  I have accomplished all that I set out to do when I first entered, and  discovered over the last two years that my Active Duty career prospects do not excite me, and I do not find the same job satisfaction as in previous years.  I'm sitting at 8 years of service (O3), and still have about two years before I would be in zone for promotion.  Still playing around with the idea of staying in the reserves, but mostly I'm just looking for a new challenge and high job satisfaction.

With that out of the way, are there any Veteran mustachians that have some lessons learned/recommendations for the transition?  I have already taken the transition GPS course, updated linkedin, crafted civilian resumes, and narrowed down acceptable locations to live.  Anything else you would recommend to aide in the job prospecting? 

For anyone else, I haven't been a civilian since 17, and now approaching my 30th birthday, I may be slightly out of touch with civilian life. I've narrowed down locations to the Southeastern US (Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta), Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, Austin), Florida (Tampa), Colorado (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs) and Mid-atlantic (Philadelphia).  I've heard Montana is a veteran friendly state, just not sure of the job market up there.  I'm trying to avoid the beltway if at all possible, and the wife wasn't too keen on California or PNW based on COL.  Any input for the areas or any areas I may have overlooked for good COL/career prospects?  Thanks in advance.

Note: I am not a veteran, but my co-workers are active duty and veterans and I end up doing a lot of transition planning.

If you are worried about job satisfaction, try to pick your industry before anything else. Want to be a policeman or a teacher or a nurse? Not every metro area is hiring tons of these. Jobs like auto mechanic are less tied to a city. People often leave the military to return to their home state, only to find their desired career field doesn't exist there.

As someone already said, make sure your skills are transferable to civilian life. If you have a very "military" job, start interviewing really early (year+) to see what the job market is like for your skills. See if transitioning away from a DoD center is even an option. Most of my co-workers end up taking contract positions in the big DoD hubs, because the alternative is to work a minimum wage job (unless they have a degree).

If you are interested in a federal position, apply early and often. Veterans preference will help you. But that doesn't make the process go any faster! Expect to wait about a year to get an offer from any agency that requires background checks or clearances. The military requirements for clearances are often insufficient for civilian clearance. Plan ahead and have savings to cover this gap.

Please please PLEASE find some civilian friends or co-workers who are willing to share their pay stubs! It will help you adjust your salary requirements. Look at how much they pay in taxes, health insurance, etc. Several of my friends got nasty reality checks when they left military service - they got used to taking home 140-170% of their salary (DC area BAH is insane) and not paying for medical expenses. Then they took jobs that sounded like a lot more money, but had to transition to taking home ~62% of their pay here in Maryland (a common percentage for those making <100K, enrolled in federal health insurance, and contributing 5% for the TSP match), and couldn't make ends meet. Know your spending, get a ballpark idea of tax rates, and you'll know how much you need to make.

If you are interested in staying in the reserves, I say do it! Don't throw away your commissary/PX access and medical benefits if you don't have to. Alternatively, if the commissary is a big deal (it is in DC), stock up like crazy before you get out.

I know people who hacked the system and made sure they had surgeries done, babies born, etc. before they got out. Something to consider.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 10:04:41 AM by traffic girl »

cdnstache

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 10:29:07 AM »
My wife and I are both in the military and she will be making the transition in a few months. She will have 14 years completed and plans on returning to university to pursue what she is really interested in. I'm struggling between staying in and getting out only because I have no idea what I would do on civvy street. To me, the military is nice, comfortable, and "easy." Civilian jobs seem scary to me and that is something I need to figure out because I would like the geographical stability that comes with a civilian job.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 10:33:02 AM »
Do really cool military people have to worry about people asking them to leave for sweet money instead of worrying about finding a job after leaving?

I switched from active to guard as a lowly E4 because I hate the Army and everyone in it.  I'm socially awkward and didn't like my team leader.  My next job was blue collar $13/hr home installations. I should have stayed Army.  Surprisingly the people in the guard were pretty decent and now I love the Army hooah hooah hut hut Airborne.

If people aren't throwing bags of money and benefits at you begging you to join them, you're going to fall a lot farther and harder than me from the mountain of awesomeness that is the glory of US officer corps.  Just think when you can change your screen name to majorawesome. 

If that doesn't work, find out what former O3s have transitioned to.  See if they're making the big bucks or missing the BAH.

RunHappy

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 10:42:10 AM »
My wife and I are both in the military and she will be making the transition in a few months. She will have 14 years completed and plans on returning to university to pursue what she is really interested in. I'm struggling between staying in and getting out only because I have no idea what I would do on civvy street. To me, the military is nice, comfortable, and "easy." Civilian jobs seem scary to me and that is something I need to figure out because I would like the geographical stability that comes with a civilian job.

Why is your wife leaving after 14  years?  That is so close to retirement pay for the rest of her life?

cautiouspessimist

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 10:43:44 AM »
Ok, so traffic girl has given a very good rundown, but there's one or two things to clear up. First of all, a security clearance is a security clearance is a security clearance. If you have a DoD clearance, you have a clearance. Any DoD agency (or the contracting companies that support them) will take it with no questions asked with very few exceptions. Non-DoD agencies may have other requirements or hoops to jump through before they will grant ACCESS, but that's not the same thing as a clearance. Most agencies will, however, accept it no questions asked.

Regarding surgeries etc before getting out, there is often a 'remaining service time' requirement for any sort of non-required surgery, such as LASIK. Otherwise, certainly try and make sure anything is covered BEFORE you get out.

Generally speaking, it's not hard to find a contracting job as an officer (they seem to have more offers than time, mostly). If you're not looking for something like that, I suggest you figure out what you are looking for as soon as possible. Also, I was much like you in that I had a number of places I was ok with moving too, but I would definitely suggest that you don't narrow it down too much. I had no success finding a job when I got out until I expanded my search to include the DC area; I had a job offer in about 2 days after doing so.

Also, the PNW is pretty much the best ever. Not clear why you (or your spouse) are against it.

john c

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 11:01:05 AM »
In my experience, a lot of guys THINK they want to be out of the Army more than they ACTUALLY want to be out of the Army.  First, pay-wise, when you add it up, you're making a lot more money than you likely will on the outside.  Secondly, like most Army jobs, most civilian jobs suck.  The difference is that your stuck there (no automatic 2-3 year job rotations).  If you have 13 years in, and are promotable, you are probably foolish to leave so close to retirement. 

On the plus side, getting a cushy job as a contract officer or similar would be a straight 9-5.  It'd be boring though.  Very boring.

So unless you have a very specific idea of what you want to do when you're out, then carefully consider your situation.

But sometimes, like divorce, you just need to go, regardless of the cost.  If that's the case, then do it.

civil

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 11:30:44 AM »
Ok, so traffic girl has given a very good rundown, but there's one or two things to clear up. First of all, a security clearance is a security clearance is a security clearance. If you have a DoD clearance, you have a clearance. Any DoD agency (or the contracting companies that support them) will take it with no questions asked with very few exceptions. Non-DoD agencies may have other requirements or hoops to jump through before they will grant ACCESS, but that's not the same thing as a clearance. Most agencies will, however, accept it no questions asked.


Maybe it depends on your HR people. I had to get re-cleared as if I had never gone through it, for three different DoD agencies, two of those being while my first (or first and second) clearances were still active. They are all the same and supposedly transfer. But HR wouldn't take another agency's stuff. My SO recently switched agencies as well, and the new place wouldn't take his military clearance. Supposedly the same one as mine. And none of these were renewals; that's a slightly different HR process. I do know people who have switched agencies or contractors without issues, but I wouldn't count on it.

Summary: it's a mess!

civil

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2015, 11:53:12 AM »

 Also, I was much like you in that I had a number of places I was ok with moving too, but I would definitely suggest that you don't narrow it down too much. I had no success finding a job when I got out until I expanded my search to include the DC area; I had a job offer in about 2 days after doing so.

+1
I don't much like the area but this is where the jobs are. Though one of my coworkers is planning to ETS and escape to Texas. It sounds like a good deal.

captainawesome

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2015, 12:25:05 PM »
Thanks for the responses. I agree being in the military, even more so as an officer, is for now great job stability.  Not so much for families or wear and tear on the individual, but you can be comfortable in what you do. But the promotion rate for O4 has been historically low, and even if you were previously promotable, if you don't work in the career field they need, see you later. I have always been a go getter and a person who needs a challenge in front of him, and want challenging work.  I have become less and less interested in the actual work currently, and more focusing on the paycheck and the benefits to get by.  I figure if I am going to take a job that is a 9-5 and solely a paycheck, why not have some geographic stability so my wife can really have a career again.  I mean is it truly that hard to find interesting work in the civilian sector? Or is it really just a means to an end? (being serious since I haven't seen that side of the world)

So to answer a few of the questions, yes part of my career was very military oriented - pointy end of the spear type. But my past 3 years have been in more of a Project Management role, so I'm looking towards that option in a lot of companies.  When I translated a lot of my skills from mil to civilian, and using some of the tools the VA now offers to match careers and interests, that came up.  I want to be a part of a company that is doing interesting work that benefits society, and is a company that doesn't work you to the bone and spit you out when they are done (like my current employer). I have friends that work for companies like Deloitte, and they are putting in ridiculous hours for paychecks that they really don't need. In fact one friend put it to me this way "I think I would be happier if I were making less money and working less hours."  I'm not afraid of hard work by any means, but I want to work to live, not live to work.

Looked at Federal sector jobs as well, which I have already applied to and I am still in the process for. They do take a LONG time, sitting on one right now that I have gone through all the processes, interviews, background investigation, etc. but still have more to do, and it's been two years.  That's a long time waiting for something that may never come to fruition.

I've also looked into the firefighter realm, and some local and state police work, but I think if I were to go that route I would want to see the Federal Criminal Investigator path through.  The flip side to that is that I have spent a good amount of time beating up on my body, and while I'm fit and functional now, I'm more concerned with the long term wear and tear.  The senior enlisted guys I was working with were rated at 50% or above disability when they retired, and had some real issues as early on as mid 40s-50s.  I'm still looking to be able to play with my kids in the future.  Being a firearms or tactics instructor would be a cool side hobby to continue with. 

I think the troops to teachers program is a great program, but I'd probably only want to be a teacher if I had the opportunity to Coach as well.  Sounds a little pretentious, but I love coaching, and don't know if I could teach without doing that as well.  I have friends who are teachers, and they have A LOT more patience than I do.  Could work, but sharp pay cut from what I am accustomed to.  We don't have debt beyond our mortgage (and even with that we have approx 100k in equity in the house right now, so I have a hard time calling it a debt) but I like being able to max 401ks and IRAs with money to spare every month.  I have used the military to civilian pay calculators, and compared pay on Glassdoor for certain companies. 

I do have a B.S. in Operations Research and Computer Analysis, but truthfully I haven't done OR related work since I graduated. Probably wouldn't make a great OR analyst, but I still understand the methods and processes, enough to get smart on it again if I had to work with OR analysts. 

As far as far as locations, we looked at COL compared with job availability with large companies who are looking to hire veterans with leadership experience and B.S. degrees, and narrowed it down to those locations.  I love the PNW personally, but I think my wife is hesitant because she has never been there.  We both agreed California is a great place to visit, crazy COL.  I was also told by a transition company not to target large military areas (ie San Diego, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Seattle/Whidbey/Bremmerton, Austin, San Antonio) without considering other areas, that way I didn't lost in the thousands of other transitioning vets. I won't say I wouldn't work in the DC area, I just hate traffic and the high cost of living there.  So it's not my preferred AOR.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 12:58:36 PM »
Ok, so traffic girl has given a very good rundown, but there's one or two things to clear up. First of all, a security clearance is a security clearance is a security clearance. If you have a DoD clearance, you have a clearance. Any DoD agency (or the contracting companies that support them) will take it with no questions asked with very few exceptions. Non-DoD agencies may have other requirements or hoops to jump through before they will grant ACCESS, but that's not the same thing as a clearance. Most agencies will, however, accept it no questions asked.


Maybe it depends on your HR people. I had to get re-cleared as if I had never gone through it, for three different DoD agencies, two of those being while my first (or first and second) clearances were still active. They are all the same and supposedly transfer. But HR wouldn't take another agency's stuff. My SO recently switched agencies as well, and the new place wouldn't take his military clearance. Supposedly the same one as mine. And none of these were renewals; that's a slightly different HR process. I do know people who have switched agencies or contractors without issues, but I wouldn't count on it.

Summary: it's a mess!

+1  I have had this very experience.  Military clearance wasn't acceptable to be a US Army Civilian, and then from one civilian agency to another, those didn't transfer either.  Here is a tremendous opportunity for our federal government to stop wasting so much G*d D**n money and time!

CheapskateWife

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2015, 01:04:49 PM »
I did my transition from O3 to civilian 12 years ago, and frankly we were in high demand.  Work was easy to find, but I did have to start at the bottom of the ladder.  My starting salary just coming out of the military was very similar to what I would have made coming to this industry straight out of college.  That was a HUGE blow to my ego.  It will pass, though, and you will climb that ladder quickly.

+1 to the suggestion to stay Reserves.  If you have already fulfilled your MSO, you have nothing to lose.  You can walk away at any time if it gets uncomfortable, and having the weekend gig might ease the transition emotionally and financially.

I wonder now about the availabity of employment and if my DH who is retiring in the next 2 years will have the same luck I did.  Frankly, our market is flush with 30pt disabled vets, and since we are in a military town, those folks get priority for hiring.  If you are moving to a non-military town, be ready for your veteran's status to not mean a hill of beans to anyone but you.  Harsh, I know, but SOME companies aren't really looking to bring your particular set of experiences to the office.  If you have any sort of PTSD, I would recommend to keep it to yourself if at all possible in the context of finding a job. 

You aren't supposed to be discriminated against, but you will be. 

captainawesome

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2015, 01:46:20 PM »
If I stayed reserves, my clearance wouldn't go up in smoke. And since I just renewed it last year, I should be good to go for a little while.  Understand that if I don't, within a year it goes inactive, and within two you have to do it all over.  PITA for how much it costs to get one done (to the gov, not me).

Luckily a temporary separation program exists that allows up to a 2 year absence from AD, with the opportunity to come back on at the same pay grade 2 years later.  Pretty good deal, and you can do the reserves in that two year off period.  For me that's the "safest" bet, in case I truly can't make civilian life work.  I just don't truly buy into the scare tactics a lot of senior officers talk about when discussing separation.

I understand civilian life is different, but is it any worse or better? I think there are pro's and con's to both. 

CheapskateWife

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2015, 02:06:59 PM »
Do you love your family?  Then you will love being a civilian :)

It sounds flippant, I know, but really, that is the pro that just outweighs all the cons.  DH could make CW5 next year and we would be making fat cash, but he would deploy again, and again, and again.   So we are walking (with a pension) but turning down the opportunity for future fantastic earnings for some stability and so I can have a few good solid earning career years before we RE together.  We have had enough.  Sounds like you have too.


cdnstache

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2015, 02:26:28 PM »
My wife and I are both in the military and she will be making the transition in a few months. She will have 14 years completed and plans on returning to university to pursue what she is really interested in. I'm struggling between staying in and getting out only because I have no idea what I would do on civvy street. To me, the military is nice, comfortable, and "easy." Civilian jobs seem scary to me and that is something I need to figure out because I would like the geographical stability that comes with a civilian job.

Why is your wife leaving after 14  years?  That is so close to retirement pay for the rest of her life?

In Canada, you have to serve 25 years now before receiving an immediate pension.

Ozstache

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2015, 03:07:05 PM »
Having joined the Australian Air Force at 15 (yes, 15!), I spent 30 years in it before retiring this time last year, so I can totally relate to the difficulty of transitioning to civilian life. In my case however, I did not see active duty and, in Australia at least, the Air Force is the closest service to a civilian-like job that the military can be, so the transition for me was not as huge as it can be for some.

As much as I normally hate touchy-feely type seminars, my wife and I attended a two-day 'explore your transition expectations and feelings' seminar run by our veteran support agency, the flier for which can be found here http://www.vvcs.gov.au/documents/stepping-out-program.pdf It turned out to be the best thing we did to prepare emotionally for the transition. If your organisation has a similar type of seminar, I strongly suggest you and, if allowed, your partner attend before you get out.

john c

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2015, 08:14:39 PM »
What kind of work do you want to do?  It sounds like you're still fleshing that out, which is fine.  You can focus on work that will give you satisfaction.  There are plenty of civilian jobs that might provide that.

But, most will not.  I live in a high COL area, and there are more "interesting" jobs here, because it's a major center of a huge global industry.  The low COL areas you're looking at are not.  People live in those areas for good quality of life, not interesting careers.  So getting a good job at the Post Office is like winning the lottery.  Good, steady pay and a retirement. 

Also, in low COL areas there isn't a lot of opportunity for lateral movement.  There just aren't a lot of jobs (or it would be a high COL area).  So if you're stuck in a cube counting beans all day, you better learn to love it or you'll have to move.  Or accept a job at a dramatically lower salary. 

Finally, there are a lot of badly run companies out there.  Say what you will about the Army, but the quality of leadership is often excellent.  Misfit and malcontents are ruthlessly weeded out. 

So, if there's something you really have a passion to do, you'll probably end up marking time at a lame company.  Why do you think we all want to FIRE?  :)

john c

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2015, 08:26:32 PM »
I'd also like to point out the value of a military retirement.  If you retire at 20 years as an O-4, your final pay (2015) will be $7430 per month.  Half of this is $3715 per month, plus medical, for life.  You mention you've been in since you were 17.  Presuming you retire at age 37, and you live until age 80, you will have 43 years of pension.  This is also roughly indexed to inflation, plus a little bit, with annual raises from Congress.

Assuming that you consider a military retirement as having the same risk as a long term Treasury bond, and since the payments are inflation linked, the proper interest rate to impute is a long dated TIPS.  The longest one I can find is a 30 year which yields 0.636%.  Plugging that into a present value calculator, the value of your retirement on the day you retire is $1,676,778.11.  This is not including the value of the medical coverage.

So what you're working for for the next 7 years is $1.68M, over and above your regular pay and benefits.  You will likely never exceed this outside the military. 

libertarian4321

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2015, 06:00:39 AM »
So as the title alludes to, I've decided to transition out of the military for something different.  I have accomplished all that I set out to do when I first entered, and  discovered over the last two years that my Active Duty career prospects do not excite me, and I do not find the same job satisfaction as in previous years.  I'm sitting at 8 years of service (O3), and still have about two years before I would be in zone for promotion.  Still playing around with the idea of staying in the reserves, but mostly I'm just looking for a new challenge and high job satisfaction.

With that out of the way, are there any Veteran mustachians that have some lessons learned/recommendations for the transition?  I have already taken the transition GPS course, updated linkedin, crafted civilian resumes, and narrowed down acceptable locations to live.  Anything else you would recommend to aide in the job prospecting? 

For anyone else, I haven't been a civilian since 17, and now approaching my 30th birthday, I may be slightly out of touch with civilian life. I've narrowed down locations to the Southeastern US (Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta), Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, Austin), Florida (Tampa), Colorado (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs) and Mid-atlantic (Philadelphia).  I've heard Montana is a veteran friendly state, just not sure of the job market up there.  I'm trying to avoid the beltway if at all possible, and the wife wasn't too keen on California or PNW based on COL.  Any input for the areas or any areas I may have overlooked for good COL/career prospects?  Thanks in advance.

I got out as an O3 at about 9 years (~20 years ago).

I didn't hate the Army, there were a lot of things I liked about it.  The work was easy (though, frankly, from a professional stand point, I was learning nearly NOTHING- I grew more professionally as an engineer in 6 months as a civilian than I did in 8+ years in the Army), there were plenty of vacations, got to travel a lot.  But there were also things I didn't like (the frequent moves, demands on family or even dating, and the mind-numbing "This is the way we've always done it, so we'll keep doing it, no matter how ridiculous and inefficient" mind set that I think everyone in the military experiences pretty regularly).

IF you have a career field where you can do well outside the military, by all means consider getting out.

If not, and you can put up with the BS for another 12-22 years, you might want to stay in.  Despite the claims of "military are underpaid," military folks who stick around long enough to collect retirement benefits are paid extremely well.  Especially if you are an officer.  I have friends who "hung around" for 30 years, who were not particularly good engineers or particularly strong officers, who just hung around, and are now collecting nearly $100k per year for doing absolutely nothing (retired O6 with 30 years TOS).  I really don't regret my decision, but every once in a while, I look at the mediocrities who are now collecting those massive retirement checks and think "I should have sucked it up and stayed in."  Then ten minutes later, I think "damn, I'm glad I didn't stay in). 

It's kind of a tough call.  If you are in a good career field and good at what you do, you should probably get out.  If you are in an career field that doesn't have a great chance for a good civ. job, or are mediocre, and can put up with the stupid shit, you are probably better off "hanging around" to collect the fat military benefits.

If you are in an MOS where you might get shot, of course, it's much easier to choose the civilian side. :)

Anyway, good luck.

If you do get out and decide to live in San Antonio, there are great facilities here for both retirees and those who did't retire (e.g. a relatively good VA hospital).

Noodle

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2015, 07:23:01 AM »
But, most will not.  I live in a high COL area, and there are more "interesting" jobs here, because it's a major center of a huge global industry.  The low COL areas you're looking at are not.  People live in those areas for good quality of life, not interesting careers.  So getting a good job at the Post Office is like winning the lottery.  Good, steady pay and a retirement. 

Also, in low COL areas there isn't a lot of opportunity for lateral movement.  There just aren't a lot of jobs (or it would be a high COL area).  So if you're stuck in a cube counting beans all day, you better learn to love it or you'll have to move.  Or accept a job at a dramatically lower salary. 

I think it depends on how you define "interesting" (and possibly high COL). Sure, there are certain careers you just can't pursue outside of NYC, DC or Los Angeles, but there is an awfully big spectrum between Manhattan and, say, rural Georgia in terms of cost and job possibilities. A number of the cities mentioned in the original post would have plenty of options (and also wouldn't be the cheapest places to live either, although not the most expensive.)

In terms of job hunting, have you considered working at a non-profit? They pay less, but often come with more flexibility, interesting co-workers, and a purpose. Also, in terms of job-hunting, there is a huge spectrum between "trudging off to a cube" and "following your passion." I like Cal Newport's advice to find a job you like and can be good at, with a tolerable workplace culture. That's doable.

Drifterrider

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2015, 12:47:41 PM »
Capt Awesome,

I homed in on "Project Management".

In addition to USA Jobs, check with BAH (Booz Allen Hamilton) and SAIC (I don't know their long title).

Both BAH and SAIC are big in the Project Management side of DoD. 

Also, take the time to find AIP (Acquisition Intern Program) which I think has changed names in the past year or so.  If that program is still in existence (and I'm sure it is) one is hired as a three year intern and if successful in completing the program is hired permanent.  The pay track is GS-7/9/11 and ending up as a 12 after three years.  It used to be managed out of Philadelphia.  The competition is tight but the rewards are many.

Good luck.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Tranistioning from the Military to civilian life
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2015, 12:53:56 PM »
Assuming that you consider a military retirement as having the same risk as a long term Treasury bond, and since the payments are inflation linked, the proper interest rate to impute is a long dated TIPS.  The longest one I can find is a 30 year which yields 0.636%.  Plugging that into a present value calculator, the value of your retirement on the day you retire is $1,676,778.11.  This is not including the value of the medical coverage.

So what you're working for for the next 7 years is $1.68M, over and above your regular pay and benefits.  You will likely never exceed this outside the military.


Johnc, this is a really thoughtful examiniation of the aggregate value of a future pension!  Thank you!