How comparable is JO pay to a civilian career?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by SamAca10, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I've read, like so many other candidates, the base pay of a JO and the benefits like health/dental insurance, housing/food allowances and 30 days paid vacation...How would this compare to a newly graduated student from a civilian college? Is it possible to actually put this into an "x amount of dollars" thing?

    Oh yeah, we can't forget job satisfaction, can we? :thumb:
    Very Respectfully,


    SamAca10
     
  2. SteveHolt243

    SteveHolt243 Member

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    That's a pretty complicated question, and depends on how you look at the question, who you compare to, etc. For example, I have a degree in history. Compared to the average history major coming out of college, I get paid better and have better benefits. Compared to entry level civilian pilots, I am way, way overpaid, and in addition don't have tremendous quantities of debt. On the other hand, I can compare with my peers who went to highly competitive civilian schools (roughly equivalent to the Academy) and come out seeming underpaid, even with benefits included. My point being that people will trot out numbers to defend either side and it's largely how you phrase the question. I will say most of the benefits are very good, having seen peers paying for their own health insurance after graduating, not earning vacation for a year, etc.

    When it really comes down to it, not really a possible conversation, and it's a bit pointless to try. They will pay you enough to generally live comfortably, and that's really all you need to worry about.


    As for "job satisfaction," well it depends on the person. I know civilian peers who love their job and have immense pride in what they do, and I know JOs who within a year or two of graduation are already bitter and ready to get out.
     
  3. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    There is a calculator on DefenseLink that will calculate Regular Military Compensation, which is the military's guesstimate of how much you would need to earn in the civilian sector to equal military pay, plus allowances, and the tax advantages of some of the military compensation.

    I have no idea how accurate this is, but it is something that might help answer your question.

    If anyone else wants to look at it, here is the link:

    http://www.defenselink.mil/militarypay/pay/calc/

    Stealth_81
     
  4. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    SteveHolt243-- you mean you majored in history but still went on to flight school? I didn't know you could do that...I thought major affected job selection. Right now, I am considering majoring in either engineering or history but I know that I am way better at history than math. :cool:

    So it's sort of like an apples to oranges type of thing for pay?

    Thanks! :thumb:

    Very Respectfully,

    SamAca10
     
  5. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    Any graduate from USAFA (who is medically qualified) can be a pilot. Slots are still competitive, so don't be the lowest scoring person in your class, though!
     
  6. Gen2

    Gen2 Member

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    This is a perspective from 26 years down the road:

    The money you actually get deposited into your bank account each month is enough to live comfortably at that stage in your life. As a JO, you should only have minimal dependents and costs associated with.

    The money you actually received increases each year by the January percentage, by the chart each time you increase service time by two years, and each time you advance.

    The money you actually receive and can spend is not decreased by a student loan payment or health insurance (but dental insurance for dependents is a premium-based insurance).

    The money you actually receive for housing allowance is tax free.

    Let's talk about the non-monetary things your civilian peers will not have:

    Will everyone from College U have a job after graduation? Each graduate of a SA will have a job at the same base pay, only the view outside the window is different depending upon the assignment pecking order.

    An opportunity to advance in the organization throughout your career with increases in pay. Can someone starting at Corporation XYZ see their path clearly up the ladder? Can almost everyone starting at the bottom move up who has the right abilities?

    Job security. As long as you do your job right and to the best of your abilities, you should be able to keep that job at least 20 years. Can Corporation XYZ offer you that guarantee?

    Health insurance coverage. Yes, it's free or almost free (some areas you might have to pay a co-pay in order to see the doc of your choice outside a military base). Can your civilian peer find a job with no health insurance premiums during some of the most expensive years of their family lives? Birthing babies, well-baby check ups, ear infections, vaccinations, etc.

    Opportunity for advanced degrees. Most services offer members full pay and tuition while earning advanced degrees. Will Corporation XYZ give someone 2 years off with full pay, pay tuition expenses, while your civilian friend works on a master's degree?

    Let's not forget that lovely lifetime check that will arrive each and every month for the rest of your life if you are able to give 20 years to this organization. What will your civilian peer be doing at age 50, 60, or 70 for guaranteed income. There's also the access to health insurance for the rest of your life.

    The grass will always be greener, and the depth of that color depends upon the economy. Right now, civilians are looking at their military counterparts thinking a little bit of sacrifice and risk aren't so bad for security. When the economy is good, the money sirens will call out that civilian life is the land of gold-until the bottom drops again.

    Go into a branch because you want to serve, because you find purpose in the mission. Find security in the fact that if you live within your means, you will be able to save money, have a comfortable life while serving, and a comfortable life with a second career and the lifetime check.
     
  7. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    I can't speak for the other SAs, but at USNA, any graduate is eligible for any JO slot, unless the grad is not allowed by law (i.e. women as SEALs), or unless they are not medically qualified. A new USNA grad's actual assignment is based on their Overall Order of Merit (OOM), which is essentially their class rank. OOM is calculated based on each Mid's academic, military, and physical fitness scores. In addition to OOM, some specialties require addtional interviews, tests, etc. For instance, there are SEAL "screener" weekends at least once per semester.
     
  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    The simple answer, you will never be a millionaire, but you will live a nice comfortable life, and that includes the fact if you or your spouse decide to stay at home with the kids.

    I remember one time Bullet's brother said I wish I felt the same way about my job like you. I do not have enough fingers and toes in my family, including extended fsamily and pets to count the times Bullet came home and said I can't believe they pay me to do this!

    Were there times that the 1st and 15th didn't come fast enough? YES! Otherwise the saying hot check Friday would have never existed :yikes:
    Would I have traded them for Bullet being miserable at a job to collect a paycheck? NO!

    Some people wait for payday because they need the money for following their dream. Some people wait for payday because it is a reminder of why they are doing it!

    Your choice on which side of the fence you want to be standing behind. Very few people get it all with out sacrificing something.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2009
  9. sealion

    sealion Member

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    Amazingly, ROTC students from College U also have jobs waiting for them upon graduation.
     
  10. wannabe2013

    wannabe2013 Member

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    Don't forget about the bonuses. Subs is a 5-figure bonus just for signing up and 6 after the initial commitment and a few other bonuses along the way as well as duty pay. Add that to your 2 for 7 loan and any money you saved from being smart with your paycheck and held pay at the academy you could be a millionaire. There is an LT 5-6 years out who teaches seamanship here who nets over $110k/year even though his base pay is only 55k because of smart investments. It isn't likely to happen these days but he tripled his 2 for 7 by the time he graduated. So be smart and you can make bank.
     
  11. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    That is true, the AF offers bonuses for pilots of 125K at yr 8 for signing until 14. They also offer a second bonus of 25K per yr from 16 to 22. This is why many fliers will stay for 20+, because at yr 8, you are now typically married with little ones, and that 60K (can take 50% up front, remainder is split over the yrs, you get it every Oct 1). That bonus looks so much better than the 35K starting salary for airlines when you have little ones. Then you get to 14, you're making 850 in flight pay on top of your salary and are a Major looking at being an LTC, so you sit there and say, well I'll stay until 20 for my retirement pay. The only difference is people who want to be bus drivers in the sky will not take the 2nd bonus, due to age reasons, those that have decided that they don't want to fly a bus, stay and collect another 25K per yr., while working their career to retire as an O-6 at 22. We have a very good friend who did exactly that, he retired at 25, got all of those big bonuses, 75% retirement pay of an O-6 and starting salary in the DC area of 170K, in other words he is making close to 225K at 46 yrs old and along the way he collected 250K over 20 yrs just in bonuses...not bad!
     
  12. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    You are right it is 62.5% (50 + 2.5 for every yr after). Brain fart, my bad, but the other thing that helped him out is his AFA time counted in yrs for his Govt job, so he came in with 29 yrs not 25. I am sure that is adding more to the confusion.

    Like you said 62.5% of O-6 for the rest of your life is not bad.
     

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