From Jacksonville, FL — 06/19/2008
PAY: The pay is pretty darn good. If you live in an area like Jacksonville, FL, the pay is pretty good. A GS-12 step 4 ($69,670) here in Jacksonville is equivalent to a GS-13 step 2 up in Patuxent River, MD as far as cost of living goes. We're close to the beach, gas is cheaper than Maryland and some other places, and we don't pay income taxes.
RESPECT: NAVAIR is relatively professional. Every company has their share of idiots, but for the most part, I work with complete professionals. If you work hard, your co-workers will respect you a lot more. Being in a professional environment demands professionalism.
BENEFITS: The benefits are outstanding. The only thing better benefits-wise is being in the military. The government pays a good portion of your healthcare, you can chose your health care that you want, and it's cheaper than in private industry. The 401(k) equivalent retirement system, called TSP (Thrift Savings Plan), is also good, as the government matches the equivalent of dollar-for-dollar for the first three percent of your paycheck, and then fifty cents on the dollar for the next two percent. A total of 10% goes torwards retirement, which is pretty good. Not many companies can say that.
JOB SECURITY: Like others have said, you pretty much have to commit a crime to get fired, i.e. download inappropriate material, copyrighted material, use the government credit card for inappropriate things, etc. Job security is outstanding. Best in the business.
WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Very balanced. You can work 80 hours in a two week period, and every other Friday you get off (called CWS). You get to know your co-workers' families, and you develop a "family" of your own. Co-workers also are very understanding when it comes to family issues.
CAREER GROWTH: The only negative that I can say about NAVAIR is the slight lack of career growth once you reach a certain level. Generally, people come into NAVAIR out of college or the military, and they start at the GS-5 or GS-7 level. If you have a Master's Degree, you may be able to start at the GS-9 level. You start at the GS-7 level, and if you are an engineer, within 6 months you can get a GS-9 automatically. After another year, you can get a GS-11, and then a GS-12 after another year. Here in Jacksonville, once you get to the GS-12 level, the promotion potential drops off dramatically. A GS-13 is considered a team lead position, and is very hard to get. The only way to get something like this is to have another person at the GS-13 level die, retire, or move on. The so-called glass ceiling is alive and well.
LOCATION: Outstanding. Living in Jacksonville, we're close to Orlando, Gainesville, Tallhassee, Pensacola, Miami, and Tampa, not to mention Atlanta. Weather is nice year round, with no snow.
CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: Professional.
WORK ENVIRONMENT: Also professional. There are a lot of cubicles, and you can hear your neighbor if they are loud, but if they are professional, which most NAVAIR employees are, they tend to keep noise to a minimum. The buildings are comfortable, with cooling and heating when needed. Security is outstanding.