So it turns out that working for the federal government as a civilian is a much better experience than working for them as an active duty soldier. And there are some great benefits as a civilian federal employee if you served in the military. Here are the top three benefits that I found out about once I started my civilian federal career.
- Your time in the military counts towards the amount of leave you will receive. So if you served 3 years in the military and then get a federal job as a civilian, you will immediately be in a higher leave category. You would get 6 hours of leave a pay period vs. the 4 hours per pay period a non-veteran newcomer to the federal government would receive. If you served in the military for 15 years and started a civilian federal career, you would receive 8 hours of leave per paycheck.
- Your military time counts towards your retirement if you do what is called a military buy -back. This is usually around 3-4% of what your total salary was while in the military. Once you do this buy-back, all your years of military service will count towards your retirement after you have completed 5 years of civilian federal service. Your federal retirement will be based on your top three years salary X your years of service (in the military and as a civilian), so it doesn’t matter that your salary was extremely low while in the military.
- You will receive Veterans’ Preference when applying to a federal job as a civilian. Veterans’ preference can be pretty confusing, but this website explains it pretty well. As a job seeker, you don’t really get to see Veterans’ preference in action, so I asked my employer how it worked for me in the hiring process. My application met the requirements for the position and veterans’ preference made my application go to the top of the list. My employer was filling multiple jobs using the same posting in USAJobs. Since my application showed I was eligible for the position, veterans’ preference forced my employer to give me a job offer before non-veterans could be interviewed for a position. Since I finished graduate school, I have applied to about 60 jobs. Out of those 60, 5 were federal positions. I got interviews for all five jobs and received a job offer from 3 out of the 5. I didn’t get any interviews outside of the federal government. So in my case, veterans’ preference was a huge help. I will say my success is due partly to the fact that my profession (being a librarian) is not one often pursued by veterans. This meant my competition with other veterans for the same job was low. If you are trying to get a federal job as a police officer or firefighter, your competition with other veterans will be much higher.