In my soon to be former job, I work closely with top leaders in the Air Force. I’ve come to realize I really miss being in the Air Force, so this seems as good a time as any to announce I’m headed back into the best branch of the United States Military! I put a lot of thought into this decision and I’m really excited to see where my new career takes me!
IT’s Getting Stale
I’ve been in IT ever since my first stint in the Air National Guard. Originally, I wanted a career in law enforcement until I figured out IT was easier, less dangerous, and paid way better. It was a good career to get me started, but it’s started to get stale. I feel like most of my days are spent cleaning up the same problems again and again. After 5 years, I’m itching for a new challenge.
I feel like I didn’t really live up to my potential the first time I was in the military. For one thing, I was in the Guard which was great, but led me to a life half in the military and half out. I also joined on the enlisted side of the house. I was 18 and didn’t have a college degree, so that was my only option. I made it to E4 rank (E4 mafia represent!) before I got out. I was strongly encouraged to commission by my leadership instead of getting out, but I was pretty burned out and wasn’t in the right mindset to commission then.
Now that I have a college degree and a few more years of personal growth under my belt, I feel ready to take on the challenge of becoming a commissioned officer. I’ve had a lot of quality chats with Military Dollar and Saving Sherpa about their careers and learned of possibilities I didn’t even know existed! I’ve been chatting on and off with a recruiter for the last few months to see if I can score a slot in a specific career field and I think there will be an opening here in the next 6 months.
As a contractor for the government, my job could be eliminated with little to no notice. The civilian IT landscape can be pretty feast or famine. I’m afraid if I stay with my civilian IT career, I could find myself unemployed and struggle to find employment. The last time I looked for a job, it took me 3–4 months longer than I thought it would. I’m definitely feeling gunshy after that.
If I commission with Active Duty, I’m pretty much guaranteed to have a job for as long as I want to stay in. I might not get paid immediately for the work if the government shuts down, but they true up the backpay so it’ll be fine in the long run.
Speaking of getting paid, officers in the military can earn pretty good salaries. A Captain who’s been in 6 years makes almost $6k a month in base pay. Add in all the other benefits like BAH, other incentives, allowances and Tri-Care and I’d be making more than I do now! My expenses would drop a lot too with being able to live on base. I’d also be able to get paid health care when I retire and the sweet, sweet military pension. Since I was in for 6 years the first time, I’d only need to be in another 14 years to be able to retire. Combine the pension with the money I’ve already saved for retirement and I’d be set! I could be 100% retired by the time I’m 42. That’s still pretty early by anyone’s definition.
When I was in the Guard, I had to stay in shape for the annual PT tests. Now that I don’t have that incentive hanging over my head, I have let myself go. Sure I do active things like playing softball and riding my bike to work, but it’s not what I did when I was in. I’d have access to fitness centers on base and be around other people with similar incentives to work out.
The career field I’m looking at joining has a strong likelihood of sending me overseas. Not to the Middle East to deploy (although that’s a definite possibility too), but to be permanently stationed at a base in Europe. I love Europe and would love to be able to travel easily among the Schengen area to explore. Skiing in the Alps? Done. Weekend trip to Paris or Amsterdam? Super easy! Want to hang out on the beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean? Just pack your floaties!
I would also have access to Space A flights. “Space Available” flights are only available to active duty military members or retirees. As a former Guardsman, I don’t qualify right now. If I got my 20 years and retired, I’d be able to snag a seat on any military flight and travel wherever I want. I’ve seen Nords put this to good use in the past and can see how much money it’s saved him.
Now, life in the military isn’t all sunshine and roses. As I mentioned above, I could get deployed. I didn’t get deployed to the Middle East in my first enlistment, but that was a more a fluke than the norm. Being deployed is risky depending on where you get sent.
I’d also have to find someone to take care of my kitty Bartholomew while I was gone. Given the strong bonds formed in the military, I’m confident I could find someone willing to watch him until I’d return. I’d miss him terribly but it’s not like I could take him with me.
There’s also the bureaucracy that comes with being in the military. It takes a long time to get things done and a lot of unnecessary hoops and paperwork sometimes, but I know what to expect and how to handle it this time around.
There’s also the risk the military sends me somewhere I have no interest being and I get stuck in a place like Minot, ND for a few years. (Nothing against North Dakota in a general way, except I personally have no wish to live there. It’s COLD)
Overall though, I think the pros outweigh the cons!
I’ve thought about joining the military again, but honestly, I really like being a civilian and having the freedom to do whatever whenever I want. It would be difficult to have my current life while in active duty. I love living here in Washington, DC and wouldn’t want to risk moving away. Especially given some of the very remote bases out in the world.
Being a government contractor to the Air Force is enough for me right now. I’m around the culture and support Air Force personnel while also getting to wear cute civilian clothes to work. It’s pretty much ideal.
I also don’t like to think I’d take a pay cut of nearly half my current salary for a few years until I gain enough years in service to get decent pay. The additional benefits are nice, but not quite enough to convince me. I’m happy with life as it stands now!
Thanks for reading! Would you go into the military? Did you play a prank on someone today? Sound off in the comments below!
You definitely had me going there. Well played.
Well played Gwen! Had me fooled.
Cian recently posted…Christmas in Prague
Financial Mechanic says
You got me! Ha I just read ReachingForFI’s update yesterday about your move in so I was feeling some whiplash. Good one!
Financial Mechanic recently posted…Ski Trips, Cider, and Other March 2019 Expenses
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
lol I thought April Fools! as soon as I read the title. But then I started reading and though, “well wait a minute, this is highly detailed to be a April Fool’s joke!” lol!
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
I got enough people to make me happy I spent the time to write it 🙂
Young FIRE Knight says
Ha you almost had me there! Glad you came to the conclusion you’re happy with where you are at right now. No pranks for me, but you weren’t the only only who almost had me fooled
Young FIRE Knight recently posted…The Link Between Stress and Physical Health
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
I just moved here! I couldn’t leave!
USAF AD with 8 years left on my ADSC : First blog post I ever read… Thought you were nuts, until I read the April Fools part.
one cup of rice says
Well played! All along I was thinking “wow she’s really weighed in on the pros and cons” but the increase in your FIRE number had my a little suspicious.
one cup of rice recently posted…The month in review: March 2019
Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
Interestingly enough, my FIRE number has increased. It turns out being limited to a set amount of money with no leeway to go over makes me very stressed out. I don’t know quite what it’s going to be yet, but I think a rolling average of the last 5 years of spending is a good number to shoot for. That looks like $35–40k right now.
Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE says
I was definitely fooled by the post, but joke or not, it does provide an excellent pros/ cons overview of not just military v. civilian, but considering a career change in general. Thinking about kitty = thinking about household obligations. Thinking about relocation, travel = considering impact on lifestyle. Thinking about benefits and security = thinking beyond cash compensation. The post is a great reminder of how to evaluate career choices!
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Gwen [Fiery Millennials] says
Oooh I like it! It is a joke post in that I’m not serious about the decision at all, but if I were this is the process I would use to determine if I want the new gig!
A small. but not particularly important side note in light that this was a joke, military members get paid regardless of shutdown. Small perk in the slew of negatives, haha.