I know a lot of people find this blog because they are seeking information about what it’s like to work for a military contractor in Germany. Today’s post is update number three in my series about military contractor life.
If you’ve been reading earlier posts on this blog, you may know that in April of this year, Bill’s former employer lost its contract. When we got the news, we worried about what would be coming next. In that post, I mentioned that April is usually Easter time, and maybe the contract loss would be a blessing in disguise. For the most part, I’d say that is what came to pass.
In May, Bill was given a tentative job offer for a government position in Italy. We seriously considered making the move, but it soon became clear that moving to Italy would be a big, expensive hassle for us. It appeared that not only would the salary be significantly less, but we’d also be responsible for moving ourselves and it looked like we would not get a housing allowance. Bill applied for another government job in Germany and was on the short list for that one, but the story was the same. The only difference was that we wouldn’t have to move.
Then, Bill was offered a job with the new contractor. The new contractor is a much larger company than the old one and has deeper pockets. Although they did not hire everyone from Bill’s old company, they did take most of the best people. Bill got a significant upgrade in salary and benefits, although he will have to tolerate being a “hired gun” for a bit longer.
I can now see where people get the idea that government contractors make a lot of money, although I also know from experience that it’s not always the case. The old company was paying a lot less– basically a salary they would give a captain in the Army rather than a retired lieutenant colonel, although the housing allowance brought the salary up to a more respectable level. The new company pays a salary more in line with what guys like Bill should be making.
So far, the new company is better. The contract is better written and lasts a year longer than the older one did. Bill’s new boss is also great. Fortunately, both companies had good people in charge who treated Bill well. That’s a real blessing. So, with any luck, Bill will be able to stick with this firm for awhile.
That being said… I do love Germany very much, but I am beginning to think about what will come next. I don’t know that we’ll want to live here for years on end, like some people do. I don’t really miss America that much, but I would someday like to own my own home. Also, whenever you move to a new location, there is the chance to see and do new things and meet new people. We’ll be in Germany at least another year and probably longer, but I don’t think I’d mind moving to the next station, provided there is support and we don’t end up hanging out in Europe as tourists while we wait for things to get official. That’s what would have happened if we had moved to Italy.
The funny thing is, the government folks in Italy are still ribbing Bill about not taking the job. It does seem like a surreal twist of fate. So many people complain about how hard it is to get a GS job. Bill was offered one without even being interviewed, although that was because the Italy folks know him and know what they would be getting. If the new company wants us to move to Italy, I’d be alright with it. But only if they help us make the move.
I guess what it comes down to is the contractor life is not as stable as GS life is. The lifestyle can be turbulent, and that makes it difficult to make plans. Contractors also don’t get any authority except within their own company.
However, it is true that contractors can end up making significantly more money than government employees do and some contractors also offer superior benefits. That is the case with Bill’s new position. He’s making more money and getting better benefits. And he also has a good boss who was kind enough to let Bill come to Scotland with me last month. The only thing that does suck is that Bill has to earn leave again. But knowing him, he’ll have those hours made up in no time.
Another bonus to the new job is that Bill’s boss has told him that the company will help him pick up some extra certifications. For instance, Bill earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity last year. The new company will help him become certified in that field if he wants. Or they will help him get certified as a project manager.
Also, as a contractor, Bill has more flexibility. He can try for jobs wherever he wants to and isn’t just limited to places where the government or military want to send him. Granted, given what he does now, we will probably always be near a military installation. But that does not always have to be the case. The new company has jobs worldwide and, if Bill does well, he could certainly compete for the ones he’s qualified to do.
Frankly, I’m envious of all the opportunities Bill has. I’m wondering if it’s not time for me to start trying to get into a career again myself. But then I remember how much I like sitting around in my nightgown, writing blog posts. Here’s hoping Bill’s new job lasts awhile. I’ll just focus on being a good partner.
I get to look for more hot air balloons in the near future…