Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life After A Sub

Just about 7 years ago today, I went on terminal leave prior to my retirement from the U.S. Navy. I went to all the required pre-retirement classes where they talked about the importance of networking, how to write a résumé, and the importance of starting your job search early. I figured, "Well, that's all well and good for the skimmers in the class, but I'm a highly-qualified Submariner. I'm the only guy in recent memory who was initial manning Eng on two new construction submarines, and I know all the civilian companies out there know that NR looks at that billet harder than any other Department Head slot. Plus, I did Coalition Finance at CENTCOM, so I've got the budgeting block checked. I just need to send out some CVs, and the offers will come pouring in."

Those of you who have already been through the post-service job search already are probably laughing your butts off, and rightly so. When they tell you that you need to completely convert all military terms to their civilian equivalents when talking with recruiters, they're exactly right. I was able to get a job here in Idaho, but not just by sending in a résumé and having them be so excited by my qualifications that they hired me on the spot; I needed to network. Luckily, there's a very senior Submariner who moved to Boise after he retired who takes us under his wing, shows us the ropes, and introduces us to the right people. If your town doesn't have a former Fleet Commander, however, that option might not be open to you. If you don't have an "in" with a given company, your best option might be to target a group that understands the Navy culture.

From what I've heard, one such company is Bechtel. I found this over at the NavyCS blog, and wanted to repost an updated copy here:
Time to leverage your shipboard nuclear power and submarine warfare knowledge and translate it to land based power plants and other projects in the US, Asia, Middle East and other regions? Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest Nuclear Power engineering, project management and construction firms in the world, is prepared to help transition qualified engineers – Naval Officers and NCOs for engineering leadership positions, into their business. Bechtel currently has many projects and needs for Navy Nuclear Power trained engineers. Bechtel is prepared to help transition qualified engineers into their business and allocate resources to do this.

Bechtel has 100’s of openings, many in the field of Nuclear Power Generation and are aggressively seeking the usual suspects; US Navy nuclear propulsion trained officers (ranks of O3 – O5 preferred); US Navy nuclear submarine qualified officers (ranks of O3 – O5 preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion trained Warrant officers – submarine or surface ship; US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier nuclear propulsion trained officers; US Navy Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) nuclear propulsion trained – submarine or surface service; US Navy Reactor Operators (RO); and US Navy Shutdown Reactor Operators (SRO) – submarine or surface, US Navy nuclear propulsion trained Petty Officers (E-6 and up) qualified in Submarines (i.e., Engineering Lab Technicians [ELT’s], Machinist Mates [MM’s], Electronic Technicians [ET’s]) (AS degrees preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion trained US Naval Petty Officers (E-6 and up) surface Navy (i.e., ELT’s, MM’s, ET’s) (AS degrees preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion prototype instructors (officers and enlisted); US Navy nuclear propulsion power school instructors (officers and enlisted).
Starting base salaries are high - can range from $95K to $175K and up, not to mention the potential for bonuses, depending, of course, on your qualifications and the position you fill.

Interested? I highly recommend that you contact Erik Plesset, a Senior Recruiter at Bechtel directly at Hotjobs[at], or if you are on Linked-In, hit him up there at – .
I was intrigued when I read that post, and since I was planning a series about "getting a job after the Navy", I contacted Erik to see if he'd be willing to share some pointers. Hopefully he'll be able to, because I think one of the best uses of this blog, with its combination of active duty and veteran readership, is to help guys transition back to civilian life when their time on the boats is done, and having the perspective of a senior recruiter of a major company would be helpful. For those who want to see what kind of jobs Erik is talking about, the Bechtel career page is here.

For the guys who have re-entered the civilian workforce -- what was your experience in getting a job on the outside? For those looking to get a job over the next few years, do you have any questions for Erik or those of us who have made the transition?


Anonymous said...

Good post on life after Navy. I had this idea that community service was a noble thing to work towards and there was a small town in Kansas that had my name on it. No literally, it was McPherson Kansas and they needed help with some community projects that seemed pretty intriguing. We went there all wide eyed and excited and spent the next few years doing everything they asked us to do. As a Chamber of Commerce executive, I helped bring them in to the 20th century by achieving a local internet POP, bringing liquor by the drink to the local restaurants and helping to build a local Rails to Trails. For my trouble, I was preached against for bringing pornography and booze to this helpless community and stealing the bread from the farmer's mouths by letting perfectly good land be used for playtime. On top of that, I got fired on the front page of the McPherson Sentinel Newspaper so was unable to get another job in town (no one wanted to piss off the good old boys). It was right about then I decided to be a lean manufacturing consultant and we have not looked back. Its been a pretty good life. You can link over to for the rest of the story.

8/13/2011 5:21 PM

Blogger Curt said...

I have a few pages for retiring personnel - mainly targeted towards transitioning M/S/CPOs -

8/13/2011 5:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went in with the plan that if I didn't stay, I'd be headed for commercial nuclear power. I decided six was enough, and since I already had a family member with contacts in the industry, I had several offers before I got out in 1990. Had to get them to wait so I could take a week off at me EAOS. Been in commercial nukes ever since. Great opportunity. It should be even better for guys getting out now and for the forseeable future as the numbers of nukes have dwindled with the downsizing of the fleet.

8/13/2011 6:10 PM

Anonymous Mike said...

I have recently separated, I was a Radioman, did 5 years. I thought, "eh its time to make use of this Naval Training I have and all these years of experience!" So I looked for several Electronics Technician jobs, now I know how to operate Masts and Antennas, as well as a radioroom, but those things dont really make me a good Electronics Technician by Civillian standards at all. So I said Ill go apply for an Electricians apprenticeship, somewhere along the lines my High School grades didn't meet the requirements to even be considered for applying. I guess after all the disappointments and reality checks, you end up looking at your GI BILL. Im signed up for school now, but for the first person in your family to go to college, I didnt realize my counselor set me up for failure and gave me 4 classes when its obvious in hindsight you need to be taking 5 classes a semester to even graduate on time. Well the time it takes to get a class processed through the VA is #, so we will see what happens.

8/13/2011 8:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post.
I guess I was fortunate. Although I have to say I was very scared. after retiring in 2003 I started sending out resume's in May when I was retiring in September. Nobody wanted to talk to me until I was actually retired.
On October 3rd I got my first offer, and since they weren't actually pouring in I accepted a low paying job just so I would have an income.
Two weeks later I had 3 more offers, one of which I accepted and I'm still with the company as the IT manager. A big difference from sonar.

8/13/2011 9:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got owt in 1982. EM1(SS) spent about 2 months looking for a job, only place I was looking was commercial nuc power.

Got one at San Onofre (Southern California) been there ever since. Starting pay was so low that after 4 or 5 months I actually considered going back in. Then some things changed at work, *mainly the pay* and I have never looked back.

For those getting out now, be aware the competition for Operations Jobs at nuc power plants is stiff. If you don't have a degree (along with your navy experience) then you better have been an EWS, or more than just an average nuc. (I probably would not get hired now).

I licensed with an RO in 1988, and an SRO in 1998, I tried to go back to school in the '80's, but by then we had a family and it was either work and family or work and school, not all three.

So, now I am looking at retirement in a couple of years, I have a good 401k and fair retirement package. I will probably contract for awhile or maybe just spend some serious time sailing.

Splash from the USS POGY SSN 647 (1979 - 1982).

8/13/2011 9:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to stay in Ops, there are many places out there for separating Nuke JOs. If you want to do anything else in life (design, sales/marketing, finance, medicine, law) get an advanced degree from a good school.

8/13/2011 10:39 PM

Blogger SJV said...

@Mike - Hang in there. Don't forget it isn't about when you get the degree - it's getting it that counts.

8/14/2011 6:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very little in that Bechtel posting for your non-elt non-instructor non-degreed PO1/SS, thanks to that "AS Degree Preferred" in there.

I got out - no degree E-6 prototype instructor, then got a job as a training specialist. After a year I ended up going to college full-time for a BS. Things are good now but I always feel like I am behind the curve of other people my age who didn't have that 8-year sidetrack to a professional career. I am working in a field now where I can leverage my Navy experience but that ain't always the way it is. Good Luck to all that are separating, my only advice might be to NOT accept the first thing you are offered, and DO NOT relocate just for that job. BTDT and let me tell you it was a mistake.

8/14/2011 7:45 AM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

Started terminal leave in March 2009, retired end of May 2009. job market was a little tough then as it is now. Been working as a contractor and after 4 jobs with 2 different companies in 2 and a half years, I am on the lookout for something else. Turned down an offer for SRO training with the TVA last year - a lot more work for a lot less money. I'd be interested to see what the scoop is from Bechtel.

8/14/2011 8:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left the boats in '66 as a RM2(SS) and went back to Detroit. After checking the want ads for several weeks for somebody looking for a morse code operator, I decided to broaden my search. I ended up a Detroit cop, but thats another story.

8/14/2011 10:08 AM

Anonymous 4-Stop said...

FT1 with only AS in computer science. Last shore duty received three job offers from GOVT and contractors the first year. Selected for E-7 with two to go, declined selection submitted retirement package and took job with contractor. Relocated to become a beltway bandit and have never looked back. Started new job and double dipped navy pay and new job pay until I retired. Two years out and I love my job and doubled my navy pay. It helped that working hand in hand with my future employers let them see my quality of work prior to hiring me. The civilian community valued my work ethic and skills way more than the Navy ever did. GO NAVY!

8/14/2011 10:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I left the Navy Dec- 1980. Three Mile Island was the death nail for civilian nuclear back then. For my generation, education through the GI bill unavailable. With few options, I took what I could get and just kept looking for the right fit. Starting off my pay was so low that I strongly considered reentering the service. I reserved for several years and had a second job just to survive. Although starting off was rough, I had an edge in experience, knowledge and maturity over all of my counterparts. Promotions and opportunities came quickly. I, like others I know who served on subs, were consider hot-runners in our civilian jobs. We made it and for me 30 years later it paid off. I work in oil & gas engineering and the experience translates well. Likewise, every mature former submariner we have encountered, we hired on the spot, and they are our highest performance employees.

8/14/2011 11:02 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:45. You’re giving all the wrong advice.
Moving into the workforce is rough but put yourself into the pipeline as soon as possible. In other words, take the hit by accepting that first reasonable opportunity and fly with it. People with jobs have a much greater opportunity to find - the right job. As far as Bechtel ‘s “AS Degreed preferred” statement, many Colleges give just about 2 years credit for your nuclear power training and experience. Capping off an AS degree is a quick win for a former nuc. Some companies will hire with your a commitment to complete the degree.

8/14/2011 11:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, the job market for ex-nukes is very strong now. Cones are less marketable.

How do you find these jobs? You can use a headhunter - there are a couple that specialize in former nuke officer and enlisted. Be careful of those that restrict themselves to JO's - they tend to pigeonhole in a certain type of job.

You DO NOT have to use a headhunter. Jump on Linkedin and join the nuke and submariner groups. There are active, unfilled job postings there, right now.

Make sure you know your next educational goal. If enlisted without a degree, know how you are getting it. If you have one, plan on an MBA or MS.

Lastly, PLEASE do not think that you must go into the nuclear operations world. That is simply not the case. There are several fields other than nuclear that are either dominated or have strong nuke contingents - check out semiconductors and data centers. The latter is a huge growth area.

8/14/2011 2:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, you may take a small pay cut at first. If this happens, roll with it. You will soon end up making far more than you did in the Navy, if you are willing to work hard. Otherwise, you can make the same as you made in the Navy, going home every night and working at a very reasonable pace.

If you are willing to travel a lot, you can make an obscene amount of money, very very quickly, as a tech rep for a vendor. Tough life, though.

8/14/2011 2:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I decided to depart the NAVY in 1997, I did some research in the Federal work force since I could convert my Navy time towards retirement. I found out that I could apply 120 days prior to EAOS. So I decided, due to my age, to try for INS Inspector. Using the Family Service Center computers in Bremerton NSY, I fired off an application utilizing the VRA program to Twin Cities Minnesota along with forwarding addresses. I then applied for SEP Leave and drove away to San Diego. I had arranged for an interview at District Office. Once done with that, I drove to El Paso and dropped off paperwork there. Then I backtracked to Las Vegas and landed a job working at Signature Flight Support at MacCarran Int'l airport working on the high roller's side. 5 weeks later, I was offered a job in New Mexico. Back then, no civil service exam was needed for VRA applicants. Now, that has changed. I am now a CBP Officer with almost 30 years service due to the 10 years Navy time.

8/14/2011 2:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:45. You’re giving all the wrong advice.

Whatev. I didn't say don't take any offer, just don't jump on the first one because you think there won't be others...and moving to a new place with a family and the added stress of new jobs...not everyone loves to move. And not having a real BS is a non-starter in a lot of fields...and by real I mean not one of those revolving door Technology BS degrees that are 97% "I was a Navy nuke so...". You can take unemployment for a while and that can carry a well-prepared job seeker for some time.

Oh, one other thing...who wants to work in nuclear for the rest of their life? You might as well just stay in.

8/14/2011 2:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

EM1 (non-nuke). Got out in 86 because I had had it up to my eyebrows with Navy bull$hit. I got a job and went to work as a commercial electrician two weeks after EAOS. Made pretty good money, first as a journeyman then licensed. In 92 my wife and I bought a used bucket truck and started selling "re-bulbing" contracts to some of the local malls. Working at night, we replaced any burned out or dim (mostly mercury-vapor) bulbs atop the light poles in their parking lots. We did this only as a sideline for awhile, but it turned out to be so lucrative, we soon started expanding with additional contracts to more and more clients with large lighted parking lots. I quit my regular job in early 94 and I've never looked back.

I now own five trucks. I have eighteen employees, and business has never been better. Indeed, I am now one of those "evil" rich people the left hates so much.

8/14/2011 2:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Indeed, I am now one of those "evil" rich people the left hates so much."

We don't hate rich people in general. We just hate you because you're a douchebag.

8/14/2011 3:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ANAV, I started federal service 2 months before my retirement date while I was on terminal leave (and taking a month and a half off). Started at the "bottom" as a GS-11 in 2006. Now I am a GS-13 making ~95k a year plus my retirement.

No degree required, just plenty of networking and hard work.

8/14/2011 4:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Indeed, I am now one of those "evil" rich people the left hates so much."

If you think you're rich enough that the right actually gives a crap about you, then you're gonna need about 5000 more trucks.

8/14/2011 4:37 PM

Anonymous squidboy said...

After 7+ years in all I knew is that I didn't want to work for the government. I was a 'cone' and completed my degree while I was on active duty. Everyone said that networking was key so I transferred to recruiting duty in a locale that I wanted to live when I got out and started amassing contacts. Most of them didn't help much but all you need is one and that got me started working for Microsoft while I was still on terminal leave in the early 90's. I have never stopped networking and that has led to positions of increasing income and responsibility within the software industry. I've ridden an amazing wave and don't for a second regret not doing another 10 years for a pension. But that's just one story and it doesn't work for everyone. Definitely get out there on Linkedin and it doesn't hurt to start a public persona on Twitter and measure both with Klout. Once you become known in your profession life becomes easy.

8/14/2011 5:04 PM

Blogger DDM said...

For those considering civilian nuclear:

1. SRO means Senior Reactor Operator. It's most similar to EOOW in the Navy. The qualification is not easy.

2. For enlisted, try to get a technical degree. My degree that I got by taking night classes while on shore duty carries much less weight than the Thomas Edison piece of paper you get with minimal class work.

8/14/2011 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We don't hate rich people in general. We just hate you because you're a douchebag."

Wow. All that from one throwaway line. I rest my case.

"If you think you're rich enough that the right actually gives a crap about you, then you're gonna need about 5000 more trucks."

The fact that the "right" doesn't give a crap about me is a good thing. At least they aren't trying to do-in my modest business by the death of a thousand cuts like your bolshevik colleagues are.

8/14/2011 8:02 PM

Anonymous radman said...

The timing of this post is fortunate; I am about to finish getting my "piece of paper" from Thomas Edison, and I recently joined Linkedin. I joined about a week ago, and applied to a couple of groups. I have had no reply yet. Is this normal? I contacted the list owners through the menu of groups and still nothing. Anyone out there have any advice? BTW, I have taken courses through the university I work for, the area community college, and Thomas Edison. I guess I did it the hard way.

8/14/2011 9:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peach Bottom will be posting soon for Equipment Operators. Navy nukes are preferred.

8/14/2011 10:02 PM

Anonymous 610ET said...

I was a NAV ET for seven years and got out in 72. I moved with my wife and two kids to the Boston area, bought a house and started working as a drapery installer while going to college nights. Six years later I had a BS in management and ended up owning a specialized textile manufacturing business.

In 89 the recession and an expensive divorce found me out of work and living on my sailboat. I relocated to Annapolis, MD to become a Yacht Broker and am still doing that in Fort Lauderdale. There have been some really good years in this industry. Things have slowed with this wonderful economy and I am now looking for another sailboat to spend a few years cruising on.

I have met a fair amount of submariners, O and E, over the years and it is always interesting to see the diverse career paths they have taken.

Hard to beat the work ethic acquired in six to thirty years as SS.

8/14/2011 10:22 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Oh, one other thing...who wants to work in nuclear for the rest of their life? You might as well just stay in.

Go home every night, no ORSE, outages every 18 months or so (more often if you work for a company with multiple plants or are a road tech), and make double what you'd make as an PO1/SS? Yeah, not a tough choice.

But I was networking when I was recruiting in Los Angeles before I got out. Had a job right away, but it was a horrible fit--on my third day there, company manager told people asking if they were ever going to get a payraise, "If you don't like it here, go somewhere else!" Lasted just long enough there to get picked up by SCE.

Worked there for seven years until I got tired of the SoCal rat race. Knew some folks from professional organizations (GT Relay Conference, Western States, etc.) and started putting out feelers. Several interviews, all for more money, but more importantly several offers. I know folks in the generation and transmission/distribution worldwide. If this place shut down tomorrow I feel comfortable that I'd have a job by the following Monday, if I didn't mind travel/relocation (which I don't).

NETWORKING, ladies and gentlemen. I swear by it, as much as what degree you might have, more so than where you got it from. Also don't be afraid of trying something out of your comfort zone (like going from RO to protective relaying.) You might find your skill sets are actually a better match and place a greater premium on your talents on the outside.

8/15/2011 6:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{"piece of paper" from Thomas Edison}

Get it. For god's sake, get it. It won't get you an engineering job that takes an ABET ME or EE degree and a PE, but it WILL get you past the HR trolls and it will help you move up into management when the time is right.

Then, go get a master's degree. It can be technical and you can go back and take the undergrad theory or math courses you need to get up to speed - lots of folks do this. Or, you can get an MBA or MS in Management, which is also useful. Secret tip: If you have a Thomas Edison BS, MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET YOUR MASTERS DEGREE FROM A GOOD SCHOOL. Not University of Phoenix or other online crap. A big state school with evening classes will do.

8/15/2011 7:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of us who actually have jobs to post - is there a good website to use that won't cost us $500 or $1000 per listing?

Maybe we need a TSSBP job section. Might pay for hosting :)

8/15/2011 7:31 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Anonymous @0731 - You know, that's a good idea. I really haven't monetized the blog as much as I could (I just have the unobtrusive ads on the sidebar that bring in a nice dinner for the family ever few months), but I'd be willing to entertain putting a "Jobs" section on the sidebar -- nothing that would interfere with the general reader's experience, but would allow those who are looking to have a resource. Drop me an E-mail: joel(dot)bubblehead(at)gmail(dot)com

8/15/2011 7:45 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Again, maybe my experience was different, but ELT definitely opened doors.

I haven't had to try very hard to get a job, but then again, I've tried very hard once I got them!

And the Excelsior degree helped too.

8/15/2011 8:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear all the 0-3 to 0-5 bantor, but what about the 0-6 and 0-7's that are ready to get out in the Workforce? What are they to apply for?

8/15/2011 8:35 AM

Blogger Unknown said...

"For those of us who actually have jobs to post - is there a good website to use that won't cost us $500 or $1000 per listing? " its free!

8/15/2011 11:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got out and immediately went to work in commercial nuclear. I started pre-med classes, but ended up getting the Excelsior BS in Nuclear Engineering Technology 160 semester hours later. (The nuclear $ was too much to turn down to go to school for a long period of time with no income while burning through student loans.) It was a good decision for my family and I.

The Excelsior degree is ABET accredited, but it is a technology degree. However, like stated above, it will get you in the door for just about everything except to fill a design engineer position.

8/15/2011 11:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a JO on shore duty with 4 months left until im out. During the last 3 months I have interviewed with more than 200 companies and have gotten follow on interviews offers (granted I did not take all of them) with more than 75%.

I did interview with someone at Bechtel and they are very interested in ex-nucs and competent people in general, i.e. if you are ranked #1/2 of your peers, then they will find a position for you. I networked with their employees on the side via LinkedIn and talked to them and litteral of the 7 or so I talked to they all love their job, love the company, and will stay with them long term, but the company has the belief that "whether here or not, do a good job, do something you love, and contribute to society". Granted I understand the importance of retention of good employees, but overall probably one of the best work environments to be in.

Salary-wise for post JO's. I can tell you I interviewed for everything from 90K -310K ( and I can prove every one). Basic, if you want the big $ you must be willing to travel, do sales, bad work schedule, or bad work environment (Contract @ 295K for 10 months in Izzracckastan). I am currently on the rent-a-nuc and most of the companies that I interviewed with would match my pay....Here's what I mean by match:

HR Rep says " So we can match your pay at least".

Me "So what do you mean match?",

HR, "Well, we will take your LES, and ensure that after retirement contributions, healthcare, federal and state taxes, etc. that dollarwise you take the same if not more home".

Me "Thats a very generous offer".

HR Rep "Well we have to give good talent some incentive to get out, and cutting your take home isn't one of them".

Oh btw, the economy for me has been very good, and nuc submariners are still considered a rare breed on the outside.

I would love to stay in, but the detailer won't gaurantee me anything on the west coast, or the east coast for that matter, so with no fidelity on at least a coast, I'm out, but the guy from my boat in 60K debt, finished dead last in the wardroom, and periodic PRT failures is staying in, best of luck

8/15/2011 1:51 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

So in something like 60 work days you did over 200 interviews? What kind of shore duty are you on?

Good luck with your job search whether it is all in your head or in the real world. Sounds like you'll have no problem finding something.

8/15/2011 1:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why no positions for O-6/O-7 but plenty of demand for O-3/O-5?"

1. I can hire an O-3 @ 120-150K he will relocate, and O-6 wants 170K+ and wants to work at the end of his driveway and never travel.

2. Running a civilian company is not the same as running a ship/ command, it still takes some spin up even after a command tour. Some people get out from command witout MS/or MBA's, typically most JO's get a master's on shore duty because they are trying to make it in the civilian world.

3. Younger officers are more trainable while older officers are more rigid. I've never heard a JO tell me how I'm running my company poorly during an interview, but I have had a CAPT tell me a lot of the things you are doing are F#$#$% up. Unbelievable I know, but some people have either the cohones or the lack of common sense.

On the Bechtel note, they are one of my companies main competitors but well respected in the energy industry.

For people getting out I recommend LinkedIn as a main source to network.

8/15/2011 2:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I went to a cleared networks fair last year and conducted interviews (20 ish sitdowns) with 50+ companies in one day. Whoever posted above is most likely legit if he saved up his terminal leave.

You are most likely ignorant, unflexible, and uncreative...never apply to Apple or Google. They like young people which I am guessing is not you

8/15/2011 2:09 PM

Anonymous Squidward said...

There are three big headhunter firms that have job fairs - its like speed dating, but with more money and fewer breasts. That's how some of these guys get huge #'s of interviews. That doesn't mean they get real offers, though - although many will.

As far as Bechtel - I HATE BECHTEL. They hoover up all the good guys I'm trying to hire. I was talking to my headhunter today to try to find some candidates, and the dude says "sorry, got to go, I've got a 10:30am with Bechtel". They are literally, all over.

O5+? I'm not interested in hiring you, sorry. I'm sure you're a great person, but I already have senior executives, and that's what you're looking for, right? If it makes you feel better, I'm also wary of hiring master chiefs...

8/15/2011 2:31 PM

Anonymous 3383 said...

1st job was waiting for me when I got out; networked. Lost my post to owner's son.
2nd was a union job (steward told me to not work so hard) until client from 1st saw me and made an offer on the spot.
3rd was great, then networked recommendation got me excellent 4th job. Which was in building materials.
Long vacation, current crap job, but about to start new one from online online application.

8/15/2011 2:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was shocked when I was told that I wasn’t qualified to run an office of seven people manufacturing fire extinguishers after retiring as a Senior Chief who managed 140 employees, 1.5 million dollar budget and 2500 square feet of waterfront operations. The first word out of her 24-year old mouth was “where did you go to college?”
I had started college and was working toward an AS degree in Environmental Technology and Hazardous Waste Management. When I got that, I quickly found that a 40-year old couldn’t make enough with an AS degree and the people I was interviewing with were my age and looking at me like I was going to take their job from them.
I continued on to University of Phoenix which was my next mistake. I should have re-grouped, finished my lower levels for a business degree and then transferred up to state college instead of going to University of Phoenix, the college of papers and Power Points. I finished of my BA/BSM and had money left in the GI Bill so I rolled over in the MBA Program. All-in-all, 13 years of holding down a full time job, raising a family and going to night school to earn my MBA.
I interviewed all over the San Diego Area. I even offered to enter the business community at an entry level so I could work my way up. No dice. Too much education/not enough experience. If I went away from a Navy town and moved to the mid-west, working in finance or insurance, the degree would be useful.
So I work in the Defense Industry doing a job that a monkey could do and where I will never be a manager. Everybody in the corner offices are Engineers or ex-military-officers. I have more education than they do but I can’t get my foot in the door. I also work for a person (engineer) who sees every non-engineer as inferior.
Now at 54, I don’t know if I want to go find that work. I work a nice 9/80 and I go home at four every day and don’t look back. If they want me to work after hours, I will, but I get over time. I am not bitter. I made a lot of decisions after retirement including staying in San Diego. We could sell our house here, buy a house for cash in North Platt Nebraska, put the rest in CD’s and physically never have to work again. But I love San Diego.
What I try to tell everyone in the Navy is get an education. It opens doors. When HR has 150 resumes to go through, they don’t have time to figure out if you have “Equivalent Knowledge”. That person with a degree will go to the head of the line and yours will be held on file (read round file)

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

8/15/2011 2:43 PM

Anonymous OldCOB said...

Joel - A spot to post help wanted ads would be great. I've been looking for a QA Manager for 6 weeks through monster and Quality hire sites. Results are abysmal.

8/15/2011 4:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

-Former F/A Submarine LT

I interviewed (February 2011) with Bechtel at large conference event, sat down for follow-on interview, and then had a written offer within the week. They had so many positions and opportunities it was incredible and they were willing to work with me on salary. In 3 months during my job search Jan 2011 throught March, I had 50+ sitdowns and 20+ written offers (putting these guys off for 2 weeks or more..some of them do not like, but will deal with it aka talking it over with wifey, investigating public schools etc). Of the 20+ offers Bechtel was probably my number 2 only because I could make more money doing a 3 year contract in China with Westinghouse doing startup engineering, but if I didnt want to relocate outside of the US they would have been my number one. The HR personnel was an engineer by degree and she said the offer still stood and whenever I was looking for another job she would be there. The are really nice and since they work with people they hire on location, salary, etc. They have a really good rep. I made sure to give their card to all my enlisted guys prior to leaving the boat as well (everyone gets out sometime).

Needless to say I'm doing some training and then shortly on my way to China, but I'm doing good work, chasing the dollar for a few years, and then maybe come back to the states.

The large career fairs are good exposure for JO's, granted its a lot of companies, but go with your game face and you will have good luck. That being said, I have an undergrad degree in Mech E. so that never hurts.

My year group (2005) most of which are transitioning or on their way back out to sea has had good luck so far in the jobs field, biggest advice is you have to be able to network. USE LinkedIn, USE LinkedIN, USE LinkedIn. Its not intentionally advertising but I literally see 10's of jobs per day that not everyone has skills for.

Be willing to relocate, if you have a house, consider renting it out, long term its not a bad investment. If you don't want to relocate, work remotely how I am. My family stays where they are in the states, and I travel 11 months a year. Yes, its not for everybody but I will have my home paid off in under 4 years and I put no money down. Just a matter of what you want and how much you or you and your family are willing to sacrifice. In 2006 i was out to sea for ~9 months, 2007 ~5 + 160 days of rotating shiftwork, and in 2008 an additional ~9 1/2months. On thing the navy did was teach me how to be away from home and sacrifice, and for that I am forever thankful.

Pride Runs Deep

8/15/2011 6:28 PM

Anonymous Cheaters never win said...

To one of the comments above about how easy it is to get an AS from a local community college based on Navy experience/various college credits etc.......This is completely false.

I'm a 23 year retired FT with too many college credits to mention. When checking in with the civilian VA rep at Santa Fe College in Gainesville Florida, he told me flat out the school will not give ANY credits whatsoever to Navy retirees/veterans.

Long story short, I've had to actually earn every single credit I've accumulated, and couldn't be prouder for have done this the right way.

8/15/2011 6:43 PM

Anonymous Former EM1(ss) said...

Bechtel's a good company to work for. My sis works for them (masters in civil) and I work for them, albeit at Bettis, with a BS BS degree and EWS quals. Laid back atmosphere, good hours, good people and if you don't mind NR, interesting work.

8/15/2011 6:49 PM

Anonymous Been there said...

Got out in 78 after six years as a MT-1, went directly into a 2 year Tech school for computer programming, had a FT job before the course ended. Went to night school to get a BS in Comp Sci.

Yeah it was a bit tough with two kids under three, working in a warehouse at night, etc. but I thank my lucky stars I ignored the re-enlistment siren song, best damn thing I ever did for my career was get out of the Navy. That being said, the Navy was sorta fun at times.

8/15/2011 6:49 PM

Anonymous MentalJim said...

@2:09 anonymous:

From what was posted these 200+ job interviews did not appear to have happened while on terminal leave.

I am not "ignorant, unflexible, and uncreative", but thanks for the silly name calling. That post just made my BS detector go off. Really 200+ interviews and no job? Sounds like a guy who is wasting a lot of other people's time to me. Either that or he is embellishing a bit. Either way, I wished him luck at finding a job and managed to not resort to the third grade tactics that you did.

8/15/2011 7:21 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{I made sure to give their card to all my enlisted guys prior to leaving the boat as well (everyone gets out sometime)}

You know the previous post about all officers being jerks? Well, not you :)

8/15/2011 8:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've been at good commands and bad commands. The good commands we gave the fellas 29 days or so of terminal more if we could. The bad commands jammed the fellas and gave them as little terminal as possible.

I agree with the above about "everyone gets out sometime." Prep your guys for transition, help them with a resume, make them apply for the GI bill, tell them to take the SAT/GRE's. Whether in the navy or out, just try to contribute to society and be positive. Some people get wrapped around the axel, but even a Chief gets tired of going to sea eventually....nah I really dont, but after ~20 years, I think the wife and kids deserve a break.

Job market is good for senior enlisted nucs, fortunate I snatched a BS from ODU during my tours in Norfolk and I'll be in decent shape. IMHO the sailors are doing a disservice to themselves not getting a BS/BA during their shore tours. While its not possible, I see too many people unprepared.

For the officer who give a good recruiter card to the fellas, thanks. Not all of you are bad, and not all of us are good.

To the guy bashing the JO above, look, the guy is just telling it like it is, sorry you have a problem with that, but its like they say "if you ever want the truth, dont talk to anyone higher than LT". best of luck, sir

8/15/2011 9:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family stays where they are in the states, and I travel 11 months a year. Yes, its not for everybody but I will have my home paid off in under 4 years and I put no money down. Just a matter of what you want and how much you or you and your family are willing to sacrifice.

Not sure how you plan to pay off your house in four years. I know what Westinghouse is paying for startup people and one can make more in the US. (Really what they are paying for is someone they think will stay onsite for the duration and won't bail after a year.) Plus you'll be living in craphole China for the duration. Been there yet? Let me tell you, it SUCKS.

8/15/2011 10:15 PM

Anonymous ssnret said...

When I retired in ‘95 networking was the advice of the day and now there is LinkedIn. There are job offers and useful discussion groups (including a Submarine Qualified group) to be found, but it is becoming a Facebook with neckties.
Figure out what makes you happy and go for that. Look for a book titled “What Color Is Your Parachute?”. The money is easier to take if you enjoy making it.
Be willing to relocate. With any luck it will be the last time. It was for me so far.
The best thing I took away from the Navy was the knowledge that I could learn to do anything.
There are probably as many different ways to find work/job/career as there are posters here. Good Luck.

8/15/2011 10:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When checking in with the civilian VA rep at Santa Fe College in Gainesville Florida, he told me flat out the school will not give ANY credits whatsoever to Navy retirees/veterans.

Did you check around? Why do you think they told you that? They make their $ by having students pay tuition per credit hour. Some schools grant credit for military schools/courses which have been evaluated, some do not. Excelsior College does. See pages 57 & 58 here for an example of credits a nuke can get for A school, power school, prototype, etc.

8/15/2011 10:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you believe the above posters, you should get out now. It will be a lot harder to find that $200k/yr job when 500 of your NNPTC JO shipmates are vying for the same job after the sub force shrinks by 30%.

Sounds a bit high to me for 28 yr olds with no civilian work exp, but I guess it could happen. If Ibankers can do it (250k/yr for 1st yr assoc), why not nukes?

BTW Our commie frenemy was spot on about the correlation between your pay level and your desire to kill yourself because your job sucks so much.

8/15/2011 11:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six years in the Navy and 30 year later - no regrets. First three years out I was in the poor house. But I work hard and stuck with it and it paid off. Noting submarine experience was always the key differentiator on my resume. It got people’s attention and they were intrigued. My resume was always moved to the top. Put all of you Navy experience on your resume.

8/16/2011 12:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{If you believe the above posters, you should get out now. It will be a lot harder to find that $200k/yr job when 500 of your NNPTC JO shipmates are vying for the same job after the sub force shrinks by 30%.

Sounds a bit high to me for 28 yr olds with no civilian work exp, but I guess it could happen. If Ibankers can do it (250k/yr for 1st yr assoc), why not nukes?}

I know you are exaggerating for effect, but its not helpful. There are few or no $200k a year right-off-the-boat jobs, unless you are willing to (literally) travel 100% of the time or go to Suckholeinstan for a year. There are plenty of 60k to 125k jobs, depending on your experience, leadership ability, and education. Many jobs start lower and then can ramp rapidly, depending on your desires.

Also, first year investment banking associates almost never make $250k, and they work longer hours than nuke JOs. And they get treated even worse. I knew some IB guys making about $100k, working 7 days a week, 14 hours on the weekdays, 6 or 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday, both. No days off. Its legalized slavery.

Right now there are many jobs for former nuke officers and enlisted. But its important for folks to have their expectations set right.

8/16/2011 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I put the phrase "If it makes a difference, I can operate a nuclear submarine" on the bottom of my resume. Its like a magnet for getting job interviews.

It also helps in the interview if you have couple of funny and fairly clean sea stories.


8/16/2011 1:21 PM

Anonymous flem snopes said...

Also got out as RM2(SS), like the sparky above (Hi Jack), after 2+ years active duty (reservist).

Immediately returned to school and graduated with a degree from Georgia Tech in Electrical Engineering.

Went to work for Bechtel out of school and spent 20 years there. Got tired of being a Nuclear Nomad and drug up.

Broke up my time with Bechtel for almost 5 years while I founded an electrical contracting company. Went broke and back to Bechtel.

Finally called it quits and moved to Alaska... been a practicing consulting electrical engineer for 15 years now and intend to work at it 'til I die.

In my experience Bechtel hires O-5s and 6s as project managers, 0-3s as engineers.

It's a good place to work especially if you can stay in one place or don't mind moving.

8/16/2011 4:40 PM

Blogger oldsailor said...

first off i am not a nuke. was a TD and worked at the blue building (Tactical Training Dept) sub base pearl harbor for 5 years. i retired in 1993 as an AT1. this was during the post desert storm draw down, so jobs were scarce. currently work in sanford,nc making car parts. my boss did 4 years as a forward IC man. the first 3 years here i was not even allowed to reset a circuit breaker because i didn't have the right job title. find the same "stuff" here as in the navy, especially the "this is the new way we are going to do things unless it costs money or goes against the way we used to do things." congrats on being a cancer survivor, i am 9 years clean after bone cancer myself.
scott, the oldsailor

8/16/2011 8:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew plenty of guys who made 250k in IB first year out of bschool. That was boom times of course (which returned for this yr at least) but even in bad times you're looking at a couple hundred after bonus.

100k post bonus may be realistic for a really bad/hated analyst (undergrad role) but that is less than base salary for a post MBA associate. You are right that it's worse than being a JO hours-wise, to say nothing of the quality of work/people you deal with daily.

The point remains: if you're looking at a 100% bump in total comp with reasonable work-life balance, drop your letter and take the job, because it probably won't last. I'm four years out of a top tier MBA working in marketing and that's roughly where I am now. (Job enjoyment, living location, overall happiness are ~500% better)

8/16/2011 8:19 PM

Anonymous T said...

I got out after 8 years as a JO, ~1 year ago. It is not difficult to find a job, even without an advanced degree, there are a lot of options available. Though, one thing I noticed is that most of the jobs are some kind of operational jobs. This can be great, however, not everybody is interested in that.

I was interested in doing either nuclear work on the business or sales side (specifically if it involved next-gen nuclear power sources, i.e. thorium/fast breeder reactors). I was a mediocre EOOW, so I didn't think that being an SRO would be a good fit.

I applied to the GE Energy JO program, and was denied because I missed the GPA requirement by literally 0.02 (I maybe partied too hard for about 1.5 years of college). But at that point, I actually already had other offers that I was interested in, so I took an offer at a top 10 bank as a Business Analyst.

My only complaint is the pay, but I think I am in band for what I have seen from my peers. For those looking at getting out, most of what I've seen to expect for pay is $85+/-10K. If you travel a lot, or live in an expensive city, I've seen up to ~$110-120K, however, 100K in NYC does not go too far.

Next up is going back for an EMBA from a TOP 20 school (I have a few options within driving distance). If you are single, and can afford it, I'd recommend going full time. At my company you can jump a promotion by having a "GOOD" MBA, or at the very least, demand more money, because it opens your options.

8/16/2011 10:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For JO's who want to go into IB/VC, it is a necessity to go to a full-time tier 1 school. Not that you cant work your way in, but HR sends their people to the tier 1 programs routinely to recruit. I would also suggest being willing to work in NYC/Chicago for the bigger payouts/potential. Other spots such as Atlanta/Cali are nice, but I feel that if you are genuinely chasing the VP role or just the mighty dollar, take a job in NYC (commute if you have to...some people do by choice)

8/17/2011 12:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @12:58
I did the big city migration for over ten years and the bigger payout was offset by the higher cost of living. Go for the quality of life job instead, you'll live longer. I went straight into process automation in Oil and Gas production a decade or two ago. It's been a good career and this industry is hiring engineering and science professionals. Bechtel, KBR, Parsons, you name them, they are all hiring quality people. Play up your nuc and especially your submarine experience. It worked for me every time.

8/17/2011 10:40 PM

Anonymous Rob at LANL said...

Any degree is better than no degree. I spent the last year and a half of my 10 years getting my AS and BS from Thomas Edison, and they helped me get the job I am at now.

As a few of the previous posters mentioned, be sure to emphasize the Navy nuke positions in civilian-speak in your resume. You never know where a former nuke is going to show up, even if it's a family member of your interviewer.

A good place to look for jobs is at national laboratories. I put in 20+ resumes at all the big labs, got two interviews at Los Alamos National Labs, and am currently working there as a technician/operator on the accelerator. A majority of the control room operators are former nukes, as is one of the senior interviewers for the other interview as an R&D engineer for nuke weapon maintenance. We're short on radcon techs, so ELT's who actually enjoyed radcon (all three of them) should consider this non-nuke plant approach as well.

8/17/2011 11:07 PM

Blogger Below Decks Watch said...

Us guys up forward don't have the nuke training to get us a job at a power plant. But I did find a great place for anyone of us that were in electronics (ET,ST,FT).
Go to and search for electronics technician. I'm doing very well after my enlistment working for the Government. I'm living proof that an Honorably Discharged STS3 can make it big time on the outside with no college degree.

8/18/2011 7:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a RO qualified EWS gave me a great background and study habits to go out and obtain an Electrical Engineering degree IN RESIDENCE. If you really want to get your value out of a college education skip all that virtual crap and go to a honest to god university where you see live people. More than once being alumni of my university or the Naval War College (thank you Uncle Sam for sending the civilian me to this) made the difference.

So, in order, some college is better than no college, Phoenix or Edison is better than some college, and post-doc schools are best of all.

8/18/2011 8:28 AM

Anonymous ssnret said...

"Us guys up forward don't have the nuke training to get us a job at a power plant." Not quite true Below Deck Watch. My ELT son works at a plant south of Raleigh, NC and has told me they have non nukes working there. This old ICman could even get a job.

8/18/2011 4:10 PM

Anonymous Rob at LANL said...

Below Decks Watch, try checking into the different labs around the country. Just because you're not a nuke doesn't mean you don't have the skills to help with alternative energy research, nuke weapon upkeep, or any of the thousands of other things they do. Being a nuke helped me specifically since I'm working with an accelerator, radiation, and contamination, but there are hundreds of jobs all around the national labs that don't require, or probably want, a nuke background. Heck, the guy I share my office with did maintenance at the Bellagio for seven years or so, no nuke knowledge at all, and he was hired at the same time as me.

8/20/2011 6:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

remember that Bechtel has the NNPP prime contract too (Bettis and KAPL) and those organizations are always happy to have their own back in the fold.

8/21/2011 6:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a related note, even though for a lot of ratings they've dropped like a stone, the SRB's for Nucs are as high as I've ever seen

8/23/2011 11:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to burst anyone's prayer chant regarding "alternative energy" opportunities, but check out the recent articles on the false promise of "Clean Tech":

* SFGate - "What Kinds Of Silicon Valley Companies Are Dying Right Now?"

* NYT - "Clean Tech’s Future Dims as Financing Drops Off"

I'm posting this largely as a wake-up call for those that would otherwise be drinking the green Kool Aid.

Have even seen communications from O6s (who should know better) that effectively translate to their wanting to dance in fields of alternative energy sugar plum fairies after they get out.

Nothing compares to coal, gas and nuclear when it comes to industrial strength energy density. The closest 'game' that any of the alt energy religionists can offer up is several times the price of current power sources, and needless to say much less reliablity and availability.

What is is about liberals that makes their oh-so-intelligent (or so they tell us) brains go dead when it comes to science and engineering...and reality?

8/23/2011 12:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...
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got out in '85 and have been commercial nuclear contracting since.

8/24/2011 10:09 AM

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