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Working at U.S. Navy — Reviews by Employees

Learn what employees have to say about U.S. Navy pay, work/life balance, care potential, job security, and much more by reading our anonymous employee reviews.

Reviews of Jobs at U.S. Navy

3.4Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security3
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth3
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From Norfolk VA — 05/16/2010

Pay/benefits: For all practical purposes of a job, i.e. money, benefits, food and a place to live, the navy has so far taken care of me and then some. I am junior enlisted and unmarried.

Respect: Most higher ups seem normal to me and will talk to you from an equal level, as a human being. However there are some guys out there who take themselves really seriously and have a complex about belittling people with less rank then them. To them you are like a child subordinate. It varies from encounter to encounter and station to station.

Job security: You can get in trouble for the stupidest things, and therein lies my biggest problem with the navy. It's so anal retentive in trying to create this professional, sensitive environment that will never exist anywhere you have human beings working together. Try robots. We all know each other in my division, but if the wrong random person see's or hears something you can get in huge trouble. People go to captains mast and I have been threatened with mast for the dumbest crap.

Work/Life balance: It varies. You may work 8 hour days with 3 on 4 off or 4 on 3 off. You may work 20 hours a week. You may work 12 hour shifts 5 days a week, or longer (especially when deployed.) During the week I have time to eat, work out and chill in my room before sleep. Some people don't even have that. It takes a lot away for what seems like no reason to me at times. We have a lot of downtime in my division and for a while you're thinking "What the **** are we still doing here," or "why do we need three people to change a battery in a smoke detector," until you get used to it and understand that you are there to make your chief look good.

Career Growth: Some guys retire and get lush jobs working as civilian contractors in repair centers or in admin jobs. They seem to have a lot. I have met some. With 4 years navy, I might be able to get a decent security job, but nothing specific to my rate since it turned out that I don't do the job I signed up for, or trained for. That happens a lot in the military, incidentally. The work I do is very boring and without the benefit of travel since I work at a squadron. If you want to travel more than anything, I'd say pick a surface rate and get orders to a small boy, I hear they visit the most ports, and surface guys always have the best stores.
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3.3Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security4
Work/Life Balance1
Career Growth5
Location2
Co-Workers4
Work Environment2

From Pearl Harbor, HI — 02/23/2010

First, I'd like to note that I'm an officer, specifically a Surface Warfare Officer (which I'm almost positive is, by far, the largest officer community not just in the Navy, but in the entire American military). I've read some of the other responses here, most of which are from enlisteds. I'll admit freely - life between officers and enlisteds is significantly different. Officers get a lot more pay, responsibilities, respect, and generally have longer hours. I will be reviewing life as an officer - trying to review officer life in general, but again, I'm a SWO. If you're considering enlisting, good for you, but don't put too much weight into this review.

Pay - Coming right out of college, pay is tremendous. The low $30K pay for an engineering major isn't anything to brag about, but bear in mind that the Navy gives you allowances for food and housing. Aside from the fact that you pay for your own uniform (enlisteds don't), all of your pay after taxes can be spent for whatever you want. I have friends in college that have pretty much the same salary as me and although they aren't struggling financially, they don't have the discretionary income that I do since much of their money goes right into food and housing.

Respect - Most people on the street have the utmost respect for military personnel, especially officers. As a lower-level officer, you immediately outrank all enlisteds. I'm not saying that's fair, but that's the honest truth. The rules of fraternization make it so you can never really be friends with enlisteds per se, but they have to at least pretend to respect you. Many enlisted personnel do hold grudges against officers in general, and rightfully so - there are some bad ones out there. But for the most part, if you do a decent job, you'll get respect. Being in the Navy is not an easy job, and it's a volunteer military. Most people around you respect you for defending your country.

Benefits - Top notch. Full health care, 30 paid days off a year, use of military discounts, access to USAA, and the best retirement plan I've ever seen. If you make a career, i.e. 20 years, out of the Navy, you get half of your pay for the rest of your life after you retire. And if you do it for 25 years, 75% of your pay. Guaranteed by the US government. Unless our economy tanks so much that the government pretty much ceases to exist, no recession can touch your pension. Plus, the GI bill is awesome, and depending on what you do, the Navy might pay for another degree. I'm hoping to get an MBA from an Ivy League school in the next couple of years on the Navy's dime, and I don't think that's an unrealistic plan.

Job Security - Realistically, if you don't make lieutenant commander (third promotion) by 10 years or so, the Navy will whisk you out. Be sure to keep on studying and get whatever certifications you need. For an SWO, get that SWO pin. If you don't, you're pretty screwed. But if you keep up with it, your job is secure. I won't claim that it's the safest profession in the world, but that's a given.

Work/Life Balance - Biggest negative by far. While you're out at sea, 14-hour days six or seven days a week are luxuries. I always managed to have time to do what I needed to do, work out, and sleep enough, but that's pretty much it. Life while stationed at land is pretty much like a regular job, 8-9 hour a day, MF. But you'll be out at sea probably about half of the year, depending on what specifically you do. SWOs work very long hours. Plus, the Navy owns you; if something comes up where you need to work longer hours, or be deployed longer, you either do as you're told or find yourself arrested. Showing up late to work is literally a crime. They won't prosecute unless it's a very regular occurrence, but this is *not* a job you can quit from or make intentional gaffes.

Career Potential/Growth - If you stick around, you can have a great, prestigious career. And if you don't, you'll learn valuable skills and make great contacts. If you do your four years and leave, having "US Navy Officer" on your resume can get you a much better job than some other random 27-year old.

Location - Frankly, you get little say in where the Navy puts you. And you're on a boat a lot. If you don't like boats, um, don't join the Navy.

Co-worker Competence: Most people know what they're doing. Some don't. A few people sign up for the Navy and hate it, doing a poor job and waiting for their contract to run out. Overall though, I'd say people are good.

Work Environment - High stress, long hours, uber-competitive, lots of yelling and crazy rules. I realize the necessity for this particular environment, but even though I plan to make a career out of it, I'd be lying if I said I was a fan of the culture.
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3.5Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location2
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From Oklahoma City, OK — 12/09/2009

The Navy should have two categories, one for E-7 and above, and one for E-6 and below.

While it's a fairly common remark in the military, most of this job can easily be summed up by the phrase RHIP, or Rank Has It's Privledges. For the average joe who signed up to serve his country, and himself at the same time, it's a decent enough situation.

Come to work. Know your job. Do your job. Get a litte money. Deploy. Get a little more money. Come home. Take 15 days off. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. There's a few exceptional breaks in the cycle, but overall, that's how the wheel turns here.

Pay: This is an odd topic. Again, if you are a chief petty officer or recieving a commission, the pay it pretty decent. You live at about the 50kish a year range on average after bonuses and benefits. Never enough to live without planning carefully, unless you have progressed pretty high as an officer.

If you are E - 6 or below (the majority of the navy) it IS true that your base pay is at or about the "poverty line." That being said, we as Americans have a ridiculously high line of poverty. As an E-5 I can support two children, just bought a house, and not married so I'm working on a single income with an owned vehicle.

There was an officer earlier who, as most officers do, generalized all enlisted into a high school only class of money blowing vagabonds. He did however make a good point that most people in financial strains in the military are there because of bad or ignorant financial decisions.

Bottom Line: If you are single, you will make enough money to support yourself whether you live off base or on ship. If you are a family man, it's tough until at LEAST E-5, which can take anywhere from 2 to 8 years, depending on your rate and your test taking aptitude.


Respect: If you are E-7 or above, respect is pretty much certain, if not from anything else other than the mistrust between blueshirts and khakis, weighted by the Khakis ability to completely destroy the like of a E-6 or belows life on a whim to "teach them a lesson." If you arent a khaki wielding son of a gun, prepare to have words put in your mouth, boots in your $$, and a general dismissal of your thoughts and opinions unless it's right after a chiefs initation or you recieve one of the rare few people worthy of your followership in the navy as your superior.

Benefits: These are solid around the board and regardless of the moans and complaints about Navy Medical giving you nothing but Tylenol and Motrin, we don't have people dying of Scurvy or infection left and right. There IS a TSP/401k like program, but the goverment wont match it unless your a civilian working in government service.

Job Security: Unless you don't know how to maintain yourself as a person, it's top notch. A ensured pay raise every year and a fairly easy to reach retirement mark are hard to beat. Just don't get a DUI, get too fat, do drugs. Some rates are at risk of not advancing in time to reach time in rate thresholds, ( meaning advance to this paygrade in X years or get a severance package) but the Navy accomodates rate transfers to meet guidelines.

Work/Life Balance: This is also universal among all paygrades. You will deploy. You will stand watch. You will work late some days and get off at noon on others. The navy is a single mans profession in my opinion, but they have certain options for people with families. Some rates do not deploy as much as others, or can stay off a ship an entire term of service by meeting the needs of the navy on shore. There will complaints and scoffs when you ask about this, but its a right and a legitimate need the navy CAN accomodate. TAR/FTS is an acceptable program for a family sailor, even if it gets you labeled as "An anchor" by the officer in the post below mine.

Growth: This is varied by the rate you qualify for when entering the navy if enlisted, or by your ability to suck up or dodge blame, if commissioned. Each rating in the navy has a particular advancement availability. Do some research before joining. As a side note, showing EXTRA effort and studying for your tests are 80% of getting promoted.

Location: You have little control of where you go, and you will be lied to from time to time, or get the ol bait n switch if the navy wants you somewhere bad enough.

Co-Worker Competence: Your coworkers are people just like you, working, making money, serving the Navy. The only hitch is every year at evaluation time, they become your competition as well. This is where the navy's buddy-f*ck system comes in, as your ranking among peers determines your .. bonus points.. towards advancement. Always try to out perform the other guy.

Leadership: This isnt a listed category, but I'm adding it here because it needs addressed. Be careful who you trust. On a ship at sea, your Chief or Division Officer have the pretty much unhindered ability to ruin your life with little or no justification. Whether you are labeled as worthless and it's deserved, or you have made a mistake and you are being crucified, you will find many time where unjust punishment, and rewards, are handed out. Officers tend to overgeneralize the enlisted massess as uneducated laborers who would sink the ship with out them. Chiefs and above tend to end conversations with, "I'm right because I'm a chief.", and that's it. In no other organization, even other military branches, will you find as much corruption and ineptitude as you will between the ranks of E-7 and E-8, and O-1 to O-5.

I left out Master Chiefs and Captains and above. They got their humanity back when they stopped being a part of the greater rat race. All I'm saying is don't trust a person willing to step on you for their own benefit, or to use you as a pawn to gain bullets on their evaluations for the next rank. There are very few golden rarities, who have the leadership capabilties to inspire you to keep on in spite of the pettiness rampant in our leadership ranks.
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3.3Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect3
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance2
Career Growth4
Location5
Co-Workers2
Work Environment2

From HI — 12/03/2009

To be honest the navy as a whole isnt a bad job, great benefits hard to get fired. You will put up with a ton of b.s. but if you can stick with it for 20 years and retire youre good to go. Unfortunately I absolutely hate my job and working conditions. The shop is horribly undermanned, we got two maintainers and an aircrewman assigned to my shift to fix avionics on 2-5 airplanes (designed in 1959 from a civilian aircraft) with electronics mostly from the early 70s to 80s. And if equipment isnt working and the job doesnt get done youre f***ed. Ive been in 3 different p-3 squadrons and can say that morale is usually good for admin types but miserable for maintenance people. Ive also definately seen a lot of people get crucified at captains mast for minor offenses like liberty violations. The navy doesnt protect its own, this is a word of caution. But a lot of its luck, you can go to some great places and have a good time in have the right circumstances.
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3.7Rating Details
Category
Pay3
Respect3
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth5
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From Fallon NV SFWD — 10/29/2009

Enlisting in the Navy as an Aviation Ordnaceman was the best thing I ever did for my life. I served my four years and got out and went to college and now I work as a Medical Technologist in a Lab making pretty decent money. I paid for that degree with my GI bill. I worked hard and learned to deal with frustration. I learned how to work as a team, and how to deal with jerks and idiots. I made the best friends I'll ever have known there. It's tough work, and I do not recomend AO for women, as I had a hard time with some of the lifting and never saw a female that could really do it either without hurting herself. But overall I think Joining the Navy was a very very good choice.
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3.6Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect4
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth3
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From jacksonville, fl — 10/21/2009

Pay
Great pay when you consider the added benefit of what is not taxed and the ability to establish a home of record which does not deduct state income taxes. I was an officer, and I was very satisfied with the pay. You'll read a lot of gripes from enlisted that the pay is pathetic. MOST young enlisted possess a high school diploma as their highest education...let's be honest, you wouldn't be making as much in the outside world without a college degree. Additionally, for most of these folks, this is their first big paycheck out of high school (relatively speaking), and they don't know how to handle it. If you sit outside the gate, you'll notice a lot of young kids driving high-end SUV's with all the whiz bang trash inside it. I couldn't afford that, and I made 3-4 times what that kid made. Unfortunately, this is one of many life lessons you have to teach your enlisted personnel because their parents didn't do their job of preparing their sons and daughters for the outside world.
Respect
Definitely more respect if you are an officer amongst the enlisted ranks, but you've got to prove your worth to your peers and CoC to earn the respect of your fellow O's. I was always taught to live by the golden rule, treat others they way you want to be treated...this is preached by every CO I've ever had, but few of which have actually carried out in practice. Your satisfaction with your superiors boils down to the character of the person behind the uniform, but something strange happens to people when they are given authority over others. Same on the enlisted side.
Benefits
You will not find a better benefits package anywhere. The Health Insurance alone is outstanding for your family. Unfortunately for you the service member, you have to go to the Naval Hospital/Branch clinic before an outside referral for non-emergent care. My advice to you, don't get sick. One of my favorite stories during a physical. "Sir, your blood pressure is a little high." The corpsmen proceeds to ask his 2nd class supervisor what to do. Supervisor says, "Sir, do you drink coffee or smoke?" "Yeah, I drink coffee." Supe to 3rd class "Just subtract fifteen." Nice. I guess in the Navy we're only trained to kill others, not repair them.
Job Security
Don't do any of the following:
Kill someone, Commit espionage, Fail a drug test, or fail the PRT 3 times in a row...follow these 4 simple rules and you have a guaranteed retirement after 20 years. If that isn't job security, I don't know what is. Notice I didn't put get a DUI, crash an aircraft, run a ship aground...those will get you transferred elsewhere in the Navy. Actually, let me correct myself, a DUI for an officer is a show-stopper as well, but I've actually seen a guy get a 25K severance as a result of being separated due to a DUI, and opt out of a remaining 4 year comittment, AND still receive an honorable discharge...I'm embarrassed for the leadership that let that occur.
My personal opinion is this topic is more of a threat to the Navy's future than an enemy ship or submarine will ever be. It is very hard to be administratively separated from the Navy unless you have documentation a nautical mile long to document your piss-poor attitude/performance. The bottom-feeders of today's Navy are very much aware of this fact, and exploit it by showing up on time, doing the bare minimum, and straining their co-workers as a result of their lack of drive and incompetence.
Work/Life Balance
You will do sea/shore rotations throughout your career, but you can definitely be tagged for sea to sea assignments. Shore rotations are essentially a normal day job with watches(you will always stand watch) unless you're the CO/XO, and every command mans a watch 24/7. Family life is somewhat normal on shore duty. When you are on sea duty, you are a cog in the unit's wheel. Not a big deal, it's what you signed up for. If you can't handle being away from home, and at the mercy of your command in a moment's notice, this is not for you. Especially if you have a family. I'm of the belief the Navy is a single man's profession. Lots of married guys stay in and put their family after the needs of the Navy...they just:
a) don't stay married very long, or
b) don't know a thing about their kids...but in either case,
they know everything about the NAVY. Me, I'll go with the kids.
Career Potential/Growth
Very cryptic career mentoring on the officer side. The rules to get ahead are always changing depending upon who you ask. If you are competent and dependable, you will make LCDR or 1st class as an enlisted. CDR or Chief is when promotion becomes tight, as it becomes performance based, but like anywhere, people fall through the cracks. And while we're on the CDR-Chief topic, I'm not ashamed to say it, but as they say, "Ask the Chief." An Officer can't touch the leadership skills of a good Chief Petty Officer. We can however, beat you in a spelling bee, political correctness, or ANY O's-Chief's sporting competition. We'll give you the mustache award. Chief's love the mustache...whatever, I don't get it.
Location
You'll be near an ocean, a strip club, a pawn shop, and a slew of car dealerships. Boy, you are living the dream now son! Go out and get that $50,000 Escalade you can't afford.
Co-worker Competence
I don't want to belabor this point, but this is a HUGE problem in the Navy. You think an aircraft carrier is huge, you have no idea. It's like this:
a) Those who wanted to join the Navy/serve their country/motivation/have some f-ing personal pride: These are the backbone of the Navy. If they are not good at their specialty, they possess the traits above to unf*k the problem and become the best at their trade.
b) Those who joined the Navy because it's a steady paycheck with job security: They are anchors. The ship will never move forward. The earlier post of the guy praising FTS is an anchor.
Work Environment
Yeah...
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4.7Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From Pensacola, Fl — 10/20/2009

Did no one else actually research the Navy before signing the dotted line? I mean, use google, and some common sense. I have no idea why everyone hates it so bad. I'm single, no kids, and plenty of options. I chose the Navy specifically for the Nuke field. The Nuke field, like the Navy, isn't for everyone. This website isn't even really fair because the Navy isn't a job, it's a LIFESTYLE. You have to be a hardworker, AND have a good attitude. Like all other jobs I know, you start at the bottom, and work your way up. Imagine that. You want respect? Earn it. Everyone started right where you are. You get paid based upon your rank. (Again, small at first, and gets bigger as you progress) Without rent, medical expenses, etc., it's really not that hard to "make ends meet". The benefits are good, not the BEST out there, but they're good. Very comprehensive. I like going into work everyday knowing I won't be laid off. If you don't progress, after a few years, they will get rid of you, because if you work hard, then you WILL progress, if you don't work hard, you will not progress. However, again, I'm not worried about losing my job. Work/Life balance is non existent for enlisted, especially with married couples. I wouldn't recommend it for married people. Career growth is definitely a five, I've been promoted within days of meeting requirements EVERYTIME a promotion comes up. Pick a job that you can make rank easily in. Location is one of those things that get better with time served. You have more of a say so in where you go, when you... progress. Much like the real world where people have senority in regular 9-5s. Yes, the navy didn't just come up with that system all on their own, people have been using that system for years. Co-worker competence depends on your co-workers, that's why the non hard workers don't get promoted and get weeded out, so you don't have incompetent co-workers. Work Environment all depends on you. Yes, you. If you hate working in heat, do not sign up to work as a cook, in the hot ass kitchen. If you hate the water, DO NOT JOIN THE NAVY. It's common sense. Most of the people complaining on here are doing so because of problems they themselves created. Why would you listen to a recruiter and take one man's word for it? Would you buy a house without inspecting it? Did you think everyone got to go whereever they wanted to in the Navy? Seriously? And don't tell me that you really thought they were going to pay you six figures straight out of boot camp. Stop it. My advice is to actually research the military. Everyone knows someone in the military. Maybe it's time you had a straightforward talk with them. It's not all roses and ice cream, but seriously, it is not that bad. Thank you for my laugh of the day.
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3.5Rating Details
Category
Pay4
Respect2
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth4
Location3
Co-Workers3
Work Environment3

From Various — 10/04/2009

I will try my best to hold off my bias of the military and give you a high quality review.

Pay: The pay is pretty good if you take into consideration how the average college student is broke from what I've heard; I have no experience of ever being "broke" in my life, so I guess I'm lucky. I enlisted right out of high school. If I were to go to college right out of high school, I probably would've been broke-I can't honestly say. Also, if you take into consideration that they pay for your food and housing (if you live on base), then the pay looks really good from that perspective. They also will pay you extra if you do live off base, provided certain requirements are met.

Respect: Respect is partially dependent on how YOU treat others AND how others treat YOU. If you are the type of person who can be friends with anybody, then you should experience minimal respect issues. But, since the Navy is big, there's a lot of people! So, taking into account probability, you are likely going to run into many unfriendly people (as well as friendly people). There's a certain vibe among those who have been in the Navy for a long time. This does not apply to all of them. But, for the ones that do, they certainly do not act or think like the general population. These are the ones that seem to just bark out orders and "go by the book"; they seem to have lost most of their personal identity and have the Navy's beliefs/identities installed in them. These are also usually the ones that when on liberty (which means "free time") do not seem to go out and have fun or relax. I highly advise avoiding these people if possible and if you work for one of these types, then your experience may not be so good..try not to let it bother you.

Benefits: The benefits are great. You get education benefits. The Navy (and all other military branches) will pay for your tuition through a program called Tuition Assistance. You can also go through a program called STA-21 (Seaman to Admirable) if you'd like to be an officer and have the Navy pay for your college. There is also the MGIB which has been updated recently. You also get 30 days of leave per year, federal holidays, sick leave, and health/dental insurance. Various military discounts at stores, cell phone bills, travel tickets, etc. Some jobs have a sign on bonus. You also receive an annual uniform allowance (money for uniforms). There's also a reenlistment bonus. You also get (if you are into any of these things) intangible benefits such as meeting lifelong friends, partying it up in other countries, consistent pay no matter how hard you work, and possibly education from some schools they sent you through so you could do your job.

Job Security: It is pretty secure as long as you do not break any rules in the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice, basically the rules of being in the military) and pass all your PRT/PFAs (physical fitness tests). To my knowledge, they really don't lay people off randomly.

Work/Life Balance: This is purely subjective. If you are on shore duty, you will get a lot more free time than someone who is on ship duty. Being on shore duty is almost like being on a regular 9-5 job (from what I hear, I personally have no experience with that). There is this concept called "duty" where every certain amount of days you have to go to work and stay there for 24 hours and being ready for something to happen even if you are at your home base (paranoid mentality imo). When you are on duty, you might have to do something called "watch" where you basically have to do some type of work for a certain amount of time. This work can consist of staying around to answer a phone, holding a shotgun while you are walking around, standing guard at the gate, being around with a walkie talkie-what you do on watch depends on your rate (your job, in other words).

Career Potential/Growth: They only promote from within the company (but, remember the company is BIG!). If you do good on your evaluations, then that increases your chance of promotion. You also have to take a test to increase your rank. Other factors are also involved. Your rate has an influence on your chances of promotion. If the Navy feels like a particular rate is over manned, then it is harder to get promoted in that rate for example.

Location: Purely subjective. You can be in Japan. You can be in San Diego. You can be in Hawaii. You can be in Norfolk. It all depends on luck, your rate, how you did in an A or C-school (higher grades get higher priority in choosing where they want to go), and possibly other unknown factors which we are going to ignore for simplicity.

Co-worker competence: Purely subjective as well. You really don't have control over how someone else acts! If its a highly technical job, you'll run into non competent people more often. If its not a technical job, then you won't.

Work Environment: Depends on your rate, if you're on shore duty or not, if you're still in bootcamp or not, if you're in a training command, and some other factors.
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4.3Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance3
Career Growth5
Location4
Co-Workers4
Work Environment4

From Ft Meade, MD — 09/21/2009

I spent 20+ years in the Navy, retired, and then entered private business. There were frustrating times when on active duty, but it's nothing compared to the lack of leadership, honesty, character, quality, etc. I've experienced in the private sector. I was "reorganized" out of a job today and had an hour to clean out my desk. The company did me a favor, but I feel bad for my co-workers who have to live in constant fear. I never found that in the Navy. The opportunities were unlimited.
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4.8Rating Details
Category
Pay5
Respect5
Benefits5
Job Security5
Work/Life Balance4
Career Growth5
Location5
Co-Workers5
Work Environment5

From World Wide — 07/16/2009

traveling the world, free college money, secure pay check, free medical and dental benifits, always chances for advancement..... can'e beat it!
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