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Thread summary:

Department of defense government employee considering move to Huntsville area, seeking details on defense contracting positions, length of employment, multiple contracts per company

Old 09-08-2007, 09:58 AM
297 posts, read 1,280,684 times
Reputation: 154


Is this a known fact between Defense Companies that only rely on (1) major government defense contract is that while their contract is up and going that they hire lots of workers, then if the contract is reduced the company will lay-off the workers or give them an option to transfer within the company? Does this/has this happened at Huntsville in the past? My spouse works for a defense company that has multiple contracts so his job is mainly secure but he is looking at the Huntsville area for a possible future move. Would love to hear from some people that have watched the Huntsville area in the past and the present. Thanks......
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Old 09-08-2007, 12:05 PM
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anjoe - simply put, yes and yes.

Larger companies usually have options for people. Smaller companies may not. It's a good idea to ask about contract details if that's the environment in which you work - contract duration, work week, pay increases (some companies bid longer work weeks which lowers hourly rates or cap pay for the duration of the contract). Contract duration is usually like 3 - 5 years (base plus options).

Keep in mind that few contracts disappear (however, I've watched my job get voted down on C-SPAN) - a new contractor may hire the old workers.
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Old 09-11-2007, 05:02 PM
Location: Huntsville, AL
1,616 posts, read 4,696,237 times
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Well, I don't live in Huntsville yet, but my husband has worked for defense companies as an engineer for a decade. I don't know many companies that rely on a single contract, and my husband has worked for some VERY small companies. Usually even small companies will run with at least a few SBIRs. Some of these companies will diversify too - some DoD contracts, some DoE contracts, etc.

There are contract-specific jobs, usually designated as a SETA job (talking about engineers, here.) Hopping from SETA job to SETA job is certainly a perfectly viable career path. If you're going to go that route, living in Huntsville (or any other city built around a substantial military base) is probably a good way to do so, since you will still be close to infrastructure jobs even if the defense budget is weakened. It's no guarantee, of course, but it helps. One of the things we like about Huntsville specifically is it is a large grouping of large employers that also have commercial applications as well, who might reallocate resources to commercial if the defense budget were reduced. Who knows? But our general inclination is to believe that engineering job options will likely remain better near a large military base, research park, NASA, etc than at the random location where we are now that has only a handful of small defense contractors.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:41 PM
4,740 posts, read 10,221,020 times
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zenjenn - you're right about the HSV economy, but I wouldn't count on employers reallocating to commercial. There are commercial high tech firms here, but not many do both commercial and government - here. Contractors usually work with MDA / Army / NASA. Not much DOE work here, but ORNL is up the road a few hours. Even in the dark days of Clinton, we survived, but worried a lot (or traveled a lot). I'll add that SETA companies hire more than just engineers, and there are a few dozen firms with <300 employees, and more coming with BRAC.
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