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Have you considered working for a defense contractor? Some of the largest defense contractors in the world are located in the United States! There are a lot of benefits to working in this industry, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. Below, we take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of private defense contractor jobs so that you can make a decision with all of the information you need.

Pros

1. Great Pay

Because of Directive 8570 (and 8140), those who work with secure information need certain baseline certifications such as Security+ to even start working. That means that defense contractors need these certified individuals to meet the requirements of their contracts, and they’re willing to pay top dollar for this kind of talent. It pays to get certified!

2. Put Your Security Clearance to Work

If you have an active security clearance, or have had one recently, you’ll be able to command higher pay from defense contractors. In fact, contractors with a security clearance earned $15,000 more than their government coworkers on average. And demand for these workers is only increasing as the US comes to terms with the dangers of cyber warfare and a crippling cyber security talent shortage. Your defense contractor salary could easily be as much as $83,000 for a Network Security Administrator, but even entry level defense contractor jobs can pay handsomely.

3. Good Education Benefits

Many defense contractors provide ample education benefits to keep their workers certified and compliant. Taking advantage of these benefits can help you build your career at an impressive pace as you continue to add new certifications to your resume.

While this is a common practice, be sure to examine your company’s policies, as many require that the employee continue to work for the company for a number of months after completing their class. You’ll want to plan ahead to make sure your timeline matches up perfectly.

4. Doing Work That Matters

By working in the defense industry, you could be protecting American cyberspace or creating the next generation of defense technology. The defense industry supports our military and the important work it does all over the world.

In recent years, it’s become clear how vulnerable companies and governments are to cyber attacks that can cripple infrastructure or steal valuable data. The defenses that we build today will safeguard us against cyber terror for years to come.

5. Working with Cutting-Edge Technology

The defense industry uses brand new technology that you can’t get access to anywhere else. While you may not want to live the life of a contractor forever, your time spent working with DoD contractors will give you irreplaceable experience.

Did you know that the internet was created by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency? This is just one example of how defense technology eventually gets adopted for civilian uses. By working with the defense industry, you can use these technologies before they go mainstream!

6. Equal Pay for Everybody

The US Government mandates that all workers with a given position receive the same pay. This means that you can’t get paid less for being too old or too young, or for being a minority or a woman. If you get the job, you’ll get paid the same amount as everybody else in that job.

7. Work with Interesting People

Those who work for defense contractors come from diverse backgrounds. Many of them have had experience working in the armed forces and could tell you a story or two. Others have been studying and working with cutting-edge technology for years. If you want to surround yourself with people who are capable and smart, look no further.

Cons

8. Your Job Depends on Government Funding

The US Government is no slouch when it comes to defense spending, but that doesn’t mean your job has perfect security. As administrations change or national priorities shift, you could find that what you’re working on has been defunded. The company you work for may switch you to a different project, or all of your positions might be liquidated.

On the other hand, no industry offers 100% job security, and the skills and experience you gain will still hold their value.

9. Projects May Change at the Whim of the Administration

Similar to the point above, you may find that the project you’ve devoted all of your blood, sweat, and tears to is no longer a priority for the administration. This could be caused by political differences, changing national priorities, or external factors such as cost or economic shifts.

While your project might not be outright defunded, its focus could be altered to suit the changing winds. Work that had been completed might be scrapped or repurposed. For most, this kind of change might be stressful but would still be better than losing your job.

10. Your Contract May Be Purchased by Another Company

Even if your project continues to receive funding and support, it may be purchased by another company. When this happens, you might stay with your current company and be reassigned to another project, or you could get hired by the company that’s taking over the contract and be asked to stay on that project. New employees of the company taking over the project essentially have to start over and may have to negotiate pay rate and benefits.

11. You May Face More Criticism

If you work with employees of the government, you’ll find that you’re vulnerable to a lot more criticism. Government employees are protected from losing their jobs unless they really make huge mistakes. Contractors, on the other hand, are easy to fire and don’t have the same kind of security. It can be frustrating to see coworkers who’re just “going through the motions” with no problem while you get criticized for every little thing. Of course, this depends on the kind of position you have and the company you work for.

12. You’ll Need to Pass a Background Check

For many people this isn’t a big deal, but for others it may be an issue. Just know that any defense contractor will want a background check as a condition of employment. A background check may include employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. You’ll probably also need to take a drug test, so keep that in mind.

Interested in Working for a Defense Contractor?

LeaderQuest can help! We offer IT certification courses to help you get your Security+, CEH, CISSP, and other certifications that can be your foot in the door to get hired by a defense contractor. Our courses take 5-10 days, are taught by instructors with real industry experience, and LeaderQuest covers the cost of one certification attempt per class. After you’re certified, our Career Services team will make it their #1 goal to get you hired!

Are you ready to start training for your future?

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