Air Force Jobs: Cyber Security vs. Computer Systems Programming
June 26, 2014 8:21 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone provide any information or details on either of these jobs, good or bad?

My daughter is about to join the Air Force. She got a 90 on the ASVAB test, so she has plenty of options for potential jobs. Although she says she has no idea what she wants to do, she has narrowed potential jobs down to either Cyber Security or Computer Systems Programming. I would prefer that she choose something that would translate well to the civilian world. Can anyone provide any information or details on either of these jobs or other jobs, good or bad?
posted by momzilla to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Either one of them would translate to jobs in the civilian world, but ex-military + 'cyber security' = big time government contract work, IMO.
posted by empath at 8:24 PM on June 26, 2014

If I could go back in time and choose, I would go the security route. Not as many jobs, but it will pay better and demand will be higher. But keep coding on the side.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:47 PM on June 26, 2014

Yeah, definitely security- she's more likely to get a security clearance out of it, and there's already a supply/demand mismatch for it (at a DoD contractor technology fair just yesterday, I was asked repeatedly if we had any expertise in securing communications- there was a lot more expressed interest in that than the field my company actually works in). And it's only going to get more important.
posted by gsteff at 9:58 PM on June 26, 2014

She's not even in boot camp yet, and things change because of disclosures and stuff at boot camp. Make sure ALL info she gives is 100% correct.

Also, don't count on an MOS translating into a civilian job even when it uses the same terms.

One thing which MAY help out in the civilian afterlife is taking an MOS that REQUIRES TS clearance.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:35 AM on June 27, 2014

She can pick any job she wants but the Air Force doesn't have to give it to her based on current personnel needs. She could end up a flight mechanic. The Air Force owns her for the length of the contact. Thinking otherwise is foolish.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:11 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah I was going to mention that -- they will literally tell her anything she wants to hear to get her to join, and don't believe any of it. They'll put her wherever they feel like.
posted by empath at 6:00 AM on June 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, be aware that what the recruiter says she'll be doing has little to do with what she will end up doing. That said, the military is pretty desperate for IT security people.

If she wants to live near the DC area, either will likely guarantee her a healthy career as a contractor. The IT security field is booming right now but be aware that there's a lot of problems with burnout, even compared to the general IT field. It can also be dull and tedious compared to development.

*Why* does she want to go into those two? Does she have experience and interest with them? Neither of them are something that I recommend for people who don't know what to do and chose them just for theoretical employment prospects.
posted by Candleman at 7:39 AM on June 27, 2014

I was worked for a defense contractor for 12 years, and my brother is in the Navy (reserves at this point). From my brother's experience, I'd agree with other commenters that you can't count on the military giving you your top choices in jobs. Since you've mentioned ASVAB scores, I assume she's enlisting from highschool, so one of the best things she can do post military career is use the GI Bill to get a college degree, potentially leveraging her skills from the Air Force. Working for the defense contractor, we did have plenty of ex-military people working with us, and having high clearance can make it easier to get in, but skills are more important than the clearance coming in since clearance is easier to get than skills.
posted by garlic at 9:55 AM on June 27, 2014

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