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A Career in the Armed forces instead of being an Engineer or lawyer?

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by TimN88, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
    5,032
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    Tim
    Lately i'm being faced with one of the most important decisions of my life. I need to decide with what im going to do for the rest of it. Up unitl now i always figured i'd go to law school and be a lawyer like my old man. A few months ago i thought it might be a better idea to actually use my education in mechanical engineering to be an engineer. If i keep my grades up, it would be a cool idea to go to grad schgool for aerospace and get a job in that industry. Recently though, ive been giving thought about attending Marine OTC (officer trainnig class) or the Air Force OTS, to become a pilot. Both programs are designed to prepare you for being an officer in their respective fields. The programs run during the summer. The gov't pays for all textbooks and stuff and i get paid. The only downside is i like the AF, but only the marines will garantee a career in aviation before being commissioned. I've also been looking at a pay chart, and officers make a pretty good amount of money, some over 100k if you dont retire for 25 years (not including allthe other benefits ans allowances they offer). Odds are, however, that i'd make more money sooner if i want to law school, or to a lesser extent, became an engineer.
    Also, if i retired after 15 years, would any engineering firms want to hire me if my engineering degree is 15 years old, or would a good law school mind? I think im qualified to to pretty much either of the 3 careers im conisdering. I've got a 3.70 GPA at a tier 1 school as a mechanical engineering major, starting at a varsity sport since i was a freshman. Is anyone in the air force that can share their experiences? I dont want to be sitting at a desk in 10 years thinking to myself this job sucks, i wish i did something else with my life."
     
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  3. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed

    Apr 28, 2003
    45,298
    Texas!
    Tim, my dad flunked out of the Univ of Colorado and was going through OCS flight training in Jax when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Needless to say, he was put on the fast track.

    He stayed in after the war and loved it. Yeah, the military is all screwed up most of the time. Where do you think we got the term - cluster fuk from? But it is definitely a non-traditional career. My dad did everything from flying hurricane hunters to Int Opps for the Bay of Pigs. (That's a whole another story for another day.)

    Unfortunately, he got screwed in the end because he wasn't a ring knocker, i.e., an academy grad. I have heard that things have changed somewhat in the Navy, but keep this in mind if you are thinking about being a Jarhead. When push turns to shove, like it did after Vietnam, the Academy grads do take care of each other.

    It is my understanding that the Air Force is not as bad in this regard. It will be interesting to hear what others might have to say about this.

    Personally, I say go for it. There is nothing like it and now-a-days you don't have to be a lifer to make it work. I keep leaving stuff out for my 16-year old son about the Naval Academy. Who knows?

    Good luck, DrTax

    ps One last story -- When my dad was finishing up his flight training, they gave him a choice of Navy or Marines. He choose Navy because he didn't like the blood stripe on the Marine uniform. This probably saved his life because he ended up flying PBYs in the Pacific and the Jarheads flew those ass-dragging Corsairs that killed more pilots than the Japanese because they couldn't see where they were landing on those jungle runways. Twist of fate, eh?
     
  4. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
    5,032
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    Tim
    I obviously wont be graduating from the AF academy. If it has that much of an impact, maybe i should reconsider.

    edit- i am chatting with an AF advisor and he is saying that where you gradutated from has no bearing. Obvbiously hes not gonna say "oh man your f-ed if you arent a academy grad.
     
  5. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
    5,440
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    Sunny
    Its extremely difficult to go beyond O-7 in the Air Force unless your part of the good 'ole boys Club (Academy grad and/or pilot and/or related to high ranking officer).

    Its a wonderful career. Qualifying as a pilot and flying fighters is a different ball game then transports or helos. Its a very worthwhile career. Though if you want to be a pilot, be prepared to be gone frequently which WILL make it tough on family.

    For schooling, 75% of tuition is paid for and you can make up the left over 25% with other programs, plus the G.I. Bill (around $25k over 36 months for $1200 initial contribution).

    I turned down a computer engineering degree, 100% paid for, in order to work in the corporate world because of money issues and family. Given the choice, I would have stayed in.

    Good luck.. there's a few of us that could answer questions you might have regarding the service on here. Don't be discouraged, there's a lot more to it than rank however, and if you have the drive you'll go far.

    Sunny
     
  6. davel

    davel Guest

    Tim dont sweat the Academy thing. Trust me. Ive been flying for the Navy for 14 yrs now and plenty of people promote to Admiral/General who are OCS/ROTC grads.
    Either service would be fine and dont look too far ahead for something like that. I also recommend you talk to the Navy as well as flying off aircraft carriers is about as radical as flying gets in the military.
    Im a Naval Flight Officer, "goose" if you have seen Topgun. We fly in all multi-seat Naval aircraft. Ive flown both fighters and support aircraft. Its been a great adventure thus far. I would like to have been a pilot but when I applied my vision was not good enough. Now it is but its too late for me to apply for a transition to pilot.
    Keep track of your vision and if its not pilot rated dont sweat it. The view from the backseat is pretty freakin good too! Hope this helps, and contact me at anytime for some other info. I have plenty of great pics Ive taken flying. DaveL :)
     
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  8. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
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    Sunny
    It depends on how many stars you want. Yes, it does have a bearing. Education counts for a % of your overall list of qualifications.

    In the service, they look towards extra curricular activities and community leadership, in addition to self improvement, education, outstanding achievements in addition to work performance. They want a "complete" person.

    If there are two of you, one is a pilot or an academy grad, and the other is not, everything else is identical, they WILL will choose the academy grad. These are things, education and self improvement, they DO consider when comparing officers and enlisted troops to one another.

    You are rated as a "complete" individual for promotions, performance reports, some job assignments, and command Squadron/Group/Command/Air Force wide level awards.

    Sunny

    Edit: What Dave means is true. Don't sweat it, however, if you want your own command some day, it will be a factor. If your happy being a Captain or a Colonel, thats still a very very good life to lead.
     
  9. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

    Sep 4, 2001
    12,887
    Cumming, Georgia
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    Franklin E. Parker
    Go Navy ! If you're good enough, you can try to get into Naval aviation and be a pilot. There are no better pilots in the world than those in the Navy. I served aboard the USS John F. Kennedy in the 70s and assure you that there is nothing more exciting than a carrier launch and hook ! And when you get out there will be more job offers than you can shake a stick at. Companies love to hire Naval aviators !
     
  10. rudy

    rudy Formula Junior

    Jan 13, 2004
    360
    Los Angeles California
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    Rudy Hassen
    You'd be helping everyone if you became an engineer.
     
  11. davel

    davel Guest

    Frank!! When were you aboard Kennedy and what did you do? I was a WestPac guy and did 2 cruises on Nimitz!
     
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  13. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
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    Sunny
    Lets see. Become an engineer, have student loans, work hard for a living.

    Or, become and engineer paid for by the service, make a difference, travel, and have a more unique career while working hard.

    No brainer :p

    You can still do both in the service. If you find its not for you, you didn't sign up for life. You have 4, 6, or 8 years and your free to quit, however you sign up.
     
  14. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
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    Tim
    I once got a tour of the USS JFK from a navy reserves enlisted man who marched in a memorial day parade in my town who invited my father and i back for a tour (this was back when i was in HS and my father was the mayor of the town) , about a year later i was on it for a marines sunset parade that my dad was invied to by one of his friends who is a marine. I even met the commandant.
    The navy also gets to fly cool planes like the F18 that the AF doesnt have. One of my neighboors sons flys F18's for the navy. I havent spoken to him before, but my dad has.
    THe only thing is do i really want to be on a boat for months at a time? I have to take starting a family into account. The AF also offers flight positions if i meet the requirements, but they cant promise what you'll fly. Minimum commitment is 10 years for a pilot. I understand its a really selective process.
     
  15. Kds

    Kds F1 World Champ

    Tim....

    Serving your country for a few years, or even as a career, and "enduring" the induction into any branch of the military, will do more for your personal character to ensure your future success in life than anything you can do on "civvy street" IMHO.
     
  16. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
    5,032
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    Tim
    If i became an engineer i would want to design the planes i would be flying if i was in the airforce. Getting those positions is not easy. Even though im a deans list student at a teir 1 school with a top 25 ME dept, im already a step behind the MIT, carnagie mellon, etc students. I dont want to be the kind of engineer that designs washing machines (although clean clothes are good). If i became a lawyer, however, then id make an even better salary (assuming i have what it takes to be a good one).
    As for having the gov't pay for my college, there is no ROTC at my school, so i'd have to drive 20 minutes to the nearest school that does every day. Im fortunate enough to have all $37.5k a year payed for by my parents, so i wont graduate with student loans.
     
  17. Texas Forever

    Texas Forever Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Apr 28, 2003
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    Tim, the ring-knocking thing is just something to keep in mind, not a deal breaker. Indeed, even most Academy grads don't become lifers now-a-days. At this stage in the game, you will have no idea whether you will stay in or not. But, trust me, you will have the time of your life.

    The one thing the military teaches that you will not get anywhere else is -- leadership. Priceless.

    Also, I'd say GO NAVY!

    DrTax
     
  18. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
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    I was a very poor student (school stayed at school, when I went home I didn't bring school with me, funny I do this with work now though..).

    I barely graduated, was 19 years old, had no drive, no goals, and no willpower. Did I mention no confidence at finding my first job?

    After four years in the service and three in the corporate life, I have life by the balls now! I just turned 27 and have been able to achieve anything I set my mind to, made friends I will keep for live, travelled, and even if it was only a small difference, it was still something to be very proud of doing.

    What it will do for your character and leadership ability is truly priceless!

    Sunny
     
  19. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    10,213
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    Russ Turner
    Tim
    You can do a whole bunch of things in the service from engineer to pilot. It has been a great adventure for me for the last 18 years, and have travelled and lived around the world in Europe and Asia, have very loyal friends all over the globe, and have had the opportunity to work for and be around some of the greatest men and women I have ever known.

    You don't need to stay forever. For me, the extreme sense of personal accomplishment, self confidence, pride and experience are priceless. I can't imagine having done anything else more rewarding, at least for me. And one of the main reasons I've stayed is the people. I'm now in a joint assignment and can tell you no service has the monopoly on great folks. Different cultures to be sure, but I'm proud to know them all. There are a few bad eggs, but by far you won 't find a better group of professionals, officer or enlisted.

    Up until Flag (General, Admiral) ranks, I have found promotions, in the Air force at least, to be remarkably fair and based on performance. Going to General depends a lot on timing and where you are more than anything else. Bottom line - it's probably less political than the civil side from what I'm told. You're a bit young to be concerned with that, and I can tell you the AF just wants you to focus on being the best at whatever you do at this stage - so much so that initial promotions focus on this. From what I've seen in 18 years, all officers have equal opportunity no matter their undergraduate school.

    Some one else mentioned leadership - all of the services place this at a premium and generally work to develop leaders by giving them opportunities. I've been fortunate to be a squadron and group commander, and am fortunate enough to be going back to command again this summer - there is truly no more fulfilling type of experience: you can make a difference to a lot of good people in such a positive way.

    I'm not really planning on being a General - don't really need to be. I'll be retiring young enough from one great career with the experience and skill sets to start another. Anyway, enough rabbitting on. Everyone is different, and you've gotta play your hand the way that you think is best. I will say that any of the services will provide an incredible life, if you stay for 3 or 30 years. And if you are like many, you will call them the best years of your life. Let me know if I can ever help.

    Aim High.

    Russ

    OBTW - the AF is by far the best.
     
  20. tweetfaip

    tweetfaip Rookie

    Mar 5, 2002
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    Marietta, GA
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    Eric Jones
    Tim,

    I left the AF in 2001 after 12 years, 8 years as an instructor pilot, and am a ROTC grad. So I can relate to what you are looking at. Navy vs. AF was an easy decision for me. A cousin of mine flew F-18's and told me that I did NOT want to be on a boat for 5,6 or more months at a time. By the way, the F-18 isn't the only "cool" jet out there, have you seen the F-22?

    Once you are comissioned there really is very little difference between academy grads and others. The only difference that comes to mind is that their date of rank for 1LT and Capt where slightly earlier. Not a big deal at all. In the AF it is the reputation that you create for yourself that will get you further. There is certainly a bit of "game playing", like playing golf, but you see that in any business.

    Be careful with what you expect. Some guys think that in the military you have it easy because we fly for free. Trust me, you pay for it in sweat, fear, and time away from home.

    Give me a call at 770-795-0951 if you would like to chat.

    Good Luck!

    Eric
     
  21. M.James

    M.James F1 Rookie

    Jun 6, 2003
    2,721
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    Michael.C.James
    Do both - we have a LOT of folks here at SPAWAR Systems Center Charleston who were Prior-Navy. Many of my coworkers were enlisted ETs or ITs in the Navy, my boss was a P-3 TACCO LCDR, many of my coworkers are Commissioned Officers in the Navy Reserves - ALL are doing great, positive things in Navy Civil Service Engineering.

    Play your cards right, and you can also put a Ferrari in your garage - like me.
     
  22. 96impalaSS

    96impalaSS F1 Rookie

    Dec 8, 2003
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    Go with The Marine Corps if you do military. OCS is supposedly harder than the boot camp i went through on Parris Island in some aspects though. In the Marines if your a officer it would be ard but very rewarding and after you retire you'll be set for the rest of your life and will also be able to get any job you pretty much want. Or you could just be a officer and use the Marines to pay for your schooling and be a JAG lawyer. You have to have some college time though i belive to be elligable for OCS. sometimes people can come into the Corps as a enlisted man and work is way through and become a mustang. There for the most part more respected by enlisted because the enlisted Marines know that a mustang officer has been through what they have been as well. But thats very very diffucult. Most of the time the highest rank you'll see a Staff NCOs are Gunnys (E-7) but there are still alot of master seargents and first SGTs and what not. Its easier just to go through OCS and get commisioned right off the bat.
     
  23. racerx

    racerx Guest

    Nov 23, 2003
    879
    Tim,
    You really have to want it to succeed. It is very competitive. Marine ocs classes run through the whole year. Before you choose that route make sure your eyesight is perfect and the rest of your health is tops. I do not know now what the deal is now, but the marines did not have many jets with second seats a while back. And if you were not near the top of your ocs class you might end up with a second choice. Watch some of those training shows, good one on lately about the seals. This will give you an idea of the nature of the competition. Gotta like running, be strong, and sharp on your feet. Perhaps with the long deployments now, more slots might be open.

    M.james - is that brinkley on your page?
    T
     
  24. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
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    Tim
    It would be pointless for me to enlist after i graduate on the deans list with a degree in mechanical engineering from a college that is ranked 37th in the country. Not that i have anyhting against enlisting or enlisted men, but my intelligence and abilities will do much more good if i were an officer. Again, all of this is contingent upon me being accepted for a flight position.
     
  25. 96impalaSS

    96impalaSS F1 Rookie

    Dec 8, 2003
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    Most of all the hardest part ot prepare for Is teh Mental aspect of it. I saw some Big Strog football player looking kids when i went through bootcmap that did fine Physically but broke down Mentaly. They were the type of guys who were big all through HS and stuff and never took **** from anyone and when they got into Recruit Training they completly jst broke. The hardest part of any of it is Mental is you ask me. And i think id be a pretty reliable source after spending 3 horrible months on Parris Island with D.I. Sgt.Hirtle D.I. StaffSgt.Brown and SDI StaffSgt.Diggs.
     
  26. TimN88

    TimN88 F1 Veteran

    Jun 12, 2001
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    Tim
    I think i can handle the mental part of it, and the pysical part. Im still unclear on what officers (mainly AF) go through after OTS for basic military training.
    BTW, it seems to me like the point of bootcamp is to break you, then make you realize that you cant get through it alone and that you need the other people in your group, and they need you. Sort of like you stick together and get each other though it together. This way you come out stronger and far more unified than when you went in.
     
  27. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

    Sep 4, 2001
    12,887
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    Franklin E. Parker
    The Marines a/k/a jarheads work for the Navy and an Air Force pilot takes 5000 feet to take off or land a plane that a Navy pilot can launch or hook in 150 feet. You do spend some time away from home while at sea. But, you are flying from a carrier most of your time so it's FUN. Plus, you can have your wife fly over at least once during a deployment and take a few weeks leave and tour the area together whether it be Europe, Asia or where ever.
     
  28. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
    5,440
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    Sunny
    I would hope not.. keep in mind your NCO's, your low/mid/high level managers, will help you promote or hold you back if your not a pilot. Your performance is not rated just on your accomplishments but those you manage below you as well :)

    What do you want to fly and in what position is a big question that will determine what branch you want to apply to. One uniform is the same as the next. You'll probably have more shore time in the AF than you will in the Navy. The AF makes heavy use of reservist pilots, transports in particular, in times of war. I don't know about the Navy..

    Sunny
     

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