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Old 03-17-2010, 04:38 PM
Location: Illinois
92 posts, read 405,888 times
Reputation: 25


Yes, it IS hard to get into the system, especially if you don't have prior military service. this is just based on MY experience though. I got lucky, and got in after 3 years of trying, and I was not a spouse yet. I went in under the recently repealed NSPS system in '08, and left the job in '09 to relocate here to Alabama with my husband. Unfortunately, I did not work long enough to achieve any sort of competitive status, which limits the jobs I can apply for here in AL. Furthermore, I cannot take advantage of the recently passed spousal preference law that does open up many more jobs to spouses (I moved to Rucker AFTER my husband had already PCS'ed here). I realize my situation is not the norm, and as long as you PCS with your husband to a duty station, then you are able to utilize the spousal preference for the 1st 2 years. However, even with that spouse preference, veterans still get preference (which I totally agree with), and still makes it tough to get into the system. I gather it is a much different situation overseas, because I have yet to meet anyone stateside who has talked about how easy it is to get into a GS position. All I know is that when I went to my orientation, I was the only person in a group of 20 recent hires who did not have prior military.

So, for me, I'm back to square one, and in an area like Alabama, it's hard as hell trying to get back into the government system. It also depends on what branch of service - the Navy, in my experience, is easier to get into than the Army. They tend to have more open to all job opportunities, and that is how I got in.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:10 PM
Location: in love with life!
5,289 posts, read 1,104,076 times
Reputation: 844
It is important to have a portable job, nursing is portable and if you are stationed in the US an msw is portable too (it just depends on if you are wanting to work on post or off). I'm in the middle of my PhD in professional counseling and about to be married to my personal GI Joe (but I've worked with the military for awhile now)! So, I understand where the OP is coming from. You just have to be willing to search for a job, with the internet that is much easier than it used to be. There is already a lot of good info here on what the military provides.

I've chosen to focus my degree on working with soldiers (though as a civilian-I'm medically ineligible to join up), there are ways to make most things work. For a field in counseling it does mean some paperwork to transfer from state to state, but if it is what you love to do than it will be worth it.

Good luck!
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:16 PM
Location: Charlotte, NC
19 posts, read 104,655 times
Reputation: 15
Thank you ArmyPoohFan317. I am still a bit hesitant about finishing the MSW program as I feel some of the small towns these bases are located on won't have openings for social workers and if they do, the pay would be much less then RN's. Although getting rich is not my top priority, I do need to ensure that I am always working as my husband is taking a pay cut by joining the army and he has student loans that the military wont repay as well as my student loans. If I do finish the degree, I would do an internship with the VA to get experience with the military population. I'd then have to receive 3 years of supervision before becoming licensed and eligible to work on base. Do you often see job openings on base for social workers and if so do military spouses have preference. I have heard that although there is spouse preference, it is still very hard to get in. Thanks for your info!!
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:40 AM
Location: Aurora, Colorado
2,212 posts, read 4,495,378 times
Reputation: 2363
Originally Posted by beachy9 View Post
Thanks for your replies. I have a college degree as well and have worked for county and state govt agencies. Is it easier for people with a degree and previous govt exprience to get into the GS system? I have heard that it is extremely hard and can take years, however, I do not know the background of the peolple who are saying this.
I too have a degree and found it incredibly easy to get my foot in the door overseas. You have to understand the employment pool. When you're overseas, there are always slots opening because people are moving on from that base. When you're stateside, there are people who have worked at that base for 20 years and have no intention of leaving because they live in the area.

The "foot in the door" is the key. I got mine in the door when we were at Ramstein. When we got orders back to the US, I got my paperwork ready and went on Leave Without Pay (LWOP). When I arrived at the base we were going to be stationed at, I went to the personnel office, turned in my paperwork and was put on a priority list for the next available slot. That slot came in less than a month. I got it because I had hiring priority as both a military spuose on orders and one on LWOP. The only person who could have been a higher preference was a military spouse on LWOP who was previously in the military themselves.

At the next base, I did the same thing. I got a phone call from the personnel office and was working within 2 months of arriving at the new location.

The key is getting your foot in the door. Once that happens, you transfer around with your spouse and get hiring preference along with your paperwork. If at the end of your spouse's military career, you decide you want to stay in the area, you can continue working at the base in the job you have until you decide to retire.

I thought the OP said they were going overseas and that's why I wanted to add my 2 cents. Going overseas is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door. It's an opportunity you shouldn't pass up because previous posters are correct...it's much harder to begin your GS service when you're stateside. Even if it's not the job you want to do forever, the key is the foot in the door. Once you begin your government service, the personnel office will take a look at your resume and give each job you held a GS equivalent. Even if you start out as a GS-5 secretary (which you are automatically qualified for with a college degree...a GS-5), when you move around, you may find a job more to your liking and be qualified for it because the personnel office said a previous job was a GS-7 equivalent.

Get your foot in the door and get your paperwork done so that when you return to the US, you are on a priority hiring list.
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