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  1. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #76
    Quote Originally Posted by TechGromit View Post
    45 to 67k? Kind low salary, the Fed benefits aren't as good as they used to be, to make up for lower starting wages.
    That's the base salary. This does not calculate in Overseas Comparability Pay (OCP) and any differentials your Post gets. Plus once you are in certain IT certifications entitle you to get Skills Incentive Pay (SIP), which can be an extra 10 or 15% depending on the cert.

    I've seen people skoff at the position just based on pay. Understand overseas you don't pay rent/utilities (just home internet/phone/tv). That is a HUGE cost savings. Health insurance options for Federal Employees is really good, as well as the retirement plan. If you have school age kids (K-12) their education is paid for as well. As a specialist you are entitled to OT pay if you work it. When you look at all of these factors it is a pretty good deal. And this doesn't include the opportunities to travel. In the past 6 months we've taken a 9 day cruise in Australia and a 7+ day camper van trip on the South Island of NZ. I just went scuba diving with sharks (bull, lemon, black tip reef) last weekend. All because of my current duty station allows for inexpensive travel to those locations.
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  3. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #77
    Quote Originally Posted by rwmidl View Post
    Again, I go with when you sign up you agree to be "worldwide available", so you could get assigned to one of those locations.

    That being said, only your first two tours are "directed" - ie the Dept. assigns you to a Post. You do get the opportunity to "lobby" to your assignments officer on why you are bidding on certain Posts. That is when you say "I am bidding X, Y, Z as my top three because of family/school/whatever". And most assignments officers take (or at least should) that into heavy consideration, they don't want to assign someone to carjackistan who has a family and their kids cannot go there. That is going to lead to an unhappy employee. After your first two directed assignments, it's all about who do you know/how well you can lobby and sell yourself to a Post - why you are the best person for the job. The more time you have in the Department, the more contacts you have and that goes a long way to getting one of the more popular Posts (think Western Europe).

    I have a family and all of my bidding has been about what is best for them. On my first two assignments I can say I used the "I have school aged kids" argument and it was taken in to heavy consideration. My next tour we are going to the Middle East - but the location is excellent for families and has one of the best international schools. I had some contacts who put in some good recommendations for me and I was their top choice. I was also in the running for a very nice Post in Westernish Europe but I was their #2 choice. It comes down to your reputation and who do you know.

    I've heard there are some great locations/hidden gems in Africa. So don't discount those places.

    *To add: We also have what is called "fair share" bidding. That is every 5(?) years you have to bid on a Post with a hardship differential of 20%. This is to try keeping things as fair as possible and keep people from spending their entire career in "easy" Posts. You can Google what the differentials are for Posts to get an idea of the 20% hardship locations. Don't fret 20%, there are some pretty nice 20% hardship locations (but those get heavily bid).*
    Thank you for that rwmidl. That really paints a picture of how things work with regards to getting posts. As for Africa, I would actually love to go to the safe parts and be able to see the beautiful parts. I'd just want to stay away from Somalia and other such places.



    Quote Originally Posted by rwmidl View Post
    That's the base salary. This does not calculate in Overseas Comparability Pay (OCP) and any differentials your Post gets. Plus once you are in certain IT certifications entitle you to get Skills Incentive Pay (SIP), which can be an extra 10 or 15% depending on the cert.

    I've seen people skoff at the position just based on pay. Understand overseas you don't pay rent/utilities (just home internet/phone/tv). That is a HUGE cost savings. Health insurance options for Federal Employees is really good, as well as the retirement plan. If you have school age kids (K-12) their education is paid for as well. As a specialist you are entitled to OT pay if you work it. When you look at all of these factors it is a pretty good deal. And this doesn't include the opportunities to travel. In the past 6 months we've taken a 9 day cruise in Australia and a 7+ day camper van trip on the South Island of NZ. I just went scuba diving with sharks (bull, lemon, black tip reef) last weekend. All because of my current duty station allows for inexpensive travel to those locations.
    Yes, I was doing some calculations and really when taking into consideration all of those as well as the savings or housing allowance, it's easily over six figures. And it sounds like you got my dream location too! I would love to go to NZ/Australia! Although I did show my wife one of the posts, Alice Springs. Way out in BFE!
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  4. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #78
    Quote Originally Posted by JoJoCal19 View Post
    Thank you for that rwmidl. That really paints a picture of how things work with regards to getting posts. As for Africa, I would actually love to go to the safe parts and be able to see the beautiful parts. I'd just want to stay away from Somalia and other such places.





    Yes, I was doing some calculations and really when taking into consideration all of those as well as the savings or housing allowance, it's easily over six figures. And it sounds like you got my dream location too! I would love to go to NZ/Australia! Although I did show my wife one of the posts, Alice Springs. Way out in BFE!
    Glad I could help out. It really is a great job and an amazing opportunity. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.
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  5. Senior Member Nyblizzard's Avatar
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    #79
    Would love to pick your brain rwmidl. What kind of education/certification/job history do you mostly see IMS fall into? I've heard of CISSP's not passing the initial screening and people with A+ N+ S+ level knowledge/work experience making it through. Very curious about this
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  6. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Nyblizzard View Post
    Would love to pick your brain rwmidl. What kind of education/certification/job history do you mostly see IMS fall into? I've heard of CISSP's not passing the initial screening and people with A+ N+ S+ level knowledge/work experience making it through. Very curious about this
    I would venture to guess most IMS are mid-level in their career. Speaking for myself, I had 13+ years of IT experience prior to joining. Look at my signature you can see the certifications I have (3 of which, CISM, ACSS and ACIS I obtained after I joined).

    I know quite a few IMS who had their CISSP prior to joining. I'd wager to guess that those you said who had their CISSP but didn't get in probably tanked the interview in some way. A previous manager explained it to me this way - they hire you as a tech but expect you to be a manger. A majority of the technical work is done by CS/contractors back in DC (or regional techs). We're managers with some technical skills.

    Thinking back on my new hire class, most if not all were mid-career. Maybe one person (?) was pretty green (a few years out of grad school?). We had a mix of many years in the private sector to someone who had over 20 + years civil service. Most had some sort of management/project management experience. Some with under graduate degrees, some with masters. Some with a shopping list of certifications, others with maybe a Sec+.
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  7. California Kid JoJoCal19's Avatar
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    #81
    Quote Originally Posted by rwmidl View Post
    A previous manager explained it to me this way - they hire you as a tech but expect you to be a manger. A majority of the technical work is done by CS/contractors back in DC (or regional techs). We're managers with some technical skills.
    Is this more of a hybrid management role overseeing the technical work that the CS/contractors are doing, with lending a hand when needed? The job description on the DoS site has the hands on IT Skills and Problem Solving section, and the Management Skills section. But is it more management? Also, do you think that someone with more InfoSec heavy skills and certs like me would fare better in this position and does the DoS have more InfoSec related roles one could move to? Also, can you give me that quick and dirty on how Fed retirement works? Thanks rwmidl for taking the time to answer our questions.
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  8. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #82
    Quote Originally Posted by JoJoCal19 View Post
    Is this more of a hybrid management role overseeing the technical work that the CS/contractors are doing, with lending a hand when needed? The job description on the DoS site has the hands on IT Skills and Problem Solving section, and the Management Skills section. But is it more management? Also, do you think that someone with more InfoSec heavy skills and certs like me would fare better in this position and does the DoS have more InfoSec related roles one could move to? Also, can you give me that quick and dirty on how Fed retirement works? Thanks rwmidl for taking the time to answer our questions.
    I think a hybrid role is the best way to describe it. When you first get in, you are much more hands on, but as you go up in rank/position you take on more and more management roles. DoS does have infosec positions but they are mostly CS and located in Washington, with a few located overseas (not enough oveseas ones to make a full career out of it). I will add infosec background and having skilled people at Post is nice (I come from an infosec background). I reiterate this is a management position, not a technical.

    Ok fed retirement. For foreign service it is made up of three portions - TSP (thrift savings plan - think 401k), Foreign Service Pension System and SS. Foreign Service Pension. TSP is just like a 401(k), Fed matches you up to 6%. There is pre-tax and a Roth TSP plan. The FS pension is nice. Similar to FERS (CS pension system), but it's the average of your high 3 salary x 1.7% x # of years worked - higher than FERS. Now, if you work more than 20 years those additional years get 1%. I don't want to do all the math here, but you can quickly figure out that you are eligible for a nice retirement package. All those years serving in not so lovely places can pay off.
    Last edited by rwmidl; 02-28-2018 at 07:36 AM. Reason: Screwed up the retirement info
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    #83
    Quote Originally Posted by rwmidl View Post
    That's the base salary. This does not calculate in Overseas Comparability Pay (OCP) and any differentials your Post gets. Plus once you are in certain IT certifications entitle you to get Skills Incentive Pay (SIP), which can be an extra 10 or 15% depending on the cert.

    I've seen people skoff at the position just based on pay. Understand overseas you don't pay rent/utilities (just home internet/phone/tv). That is a HUGE cost savings. Health insurance options for Federal Employees is really good, as well as the retirement plan. If you have school age kids (K-12) their education is paid for as well. As a specialist you are entitled to OT pay if you work it. When you look at all of these factors it is a pretty good deal. And this doesn't include the opportunities to travel. In the past 6 months we've taken a 9 day cruise in Australia and a 7+ day camper van trip on the South Island of NZ. I just went scuba diving with sharks (bull, lemon, black tip reef) last weekend. All because of my current duty station allows for inexpensive travel to those locations.
    Is it possible to come in at a FP-4 or FP-3 if you have prior military and/or other department civil service experience? Or possibly negotiating coming it at Step 10+? I am mid-career in another federal department and would take a considerable pay cut if I wanted to switch over to Foreign Service at FP-5 Step 1; even accounting for OCP, Post differential, and SIP.
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  10. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #84
    Quote Originally Posted by Pmorgan2 View Post
    Is it possible to come in at a FP-4 or FP-3 if you have prior military and/or other department civil service experience? Or possibly negotiating coming it at Step 10+? I am mid-career in another federal department and would take a considerable pay cut if I wanted to switch over to Foreign Service at FP-5 Step 1; even accounting for OCP, Post differential, and SIP.
    There may be special circumstances for coming in at a 3 (convert from CS with the Dept to FS) but most people come in at a 5. I was prior Fed with DoD and came in at a 5 and took a pay cut.
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    #85
    Quote Originally Posted by rwmidl View Post
    There may be special circumstances for coming in at a 3 (convert from CS with the Dept to FS) but most people come in at a 5. I was prior Fed with DoD and came in at a 5 and took a pay cut.
    Seems like a weird way to go about things. Not all candidates are equal, yet they all go in at the same position and pay.

    That turns me off, as it sets a precedent that the DoS values their IT employees on an arbitrary basis. But, that's a little hypocritical coming from the GS system, haha.

    Have you, or anyone you know, been successful negotiating coming in at a higher step?
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  12. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #86
    Quote Originally Posted by Pmorgan2 View Post
    Seems like a weird way to go about things. Not all candidates are equal, yet they all go in at the same position and pay.

    That turns me off, as it sets a precedent that the DoS values their IT employees on an arbitrary basis. But, that's a little hypocritical coming from the GS system, haha.

    Have you, or anyone you know, been successful negotiating coming in at a higher step?
    Not that I'm aware of. Now not everyone comes in at the same step. I came in at a 14, and some of my classmates came in lower. As a prior Fed employee they had to match me as close to my current salary as possible within the Grade/Step - thus my 14.

    When they calculate your step, they look at education, experience, certifications, etc. Most of my class came in at the top due to those factors. As I mentioned, because I was making more as a prior Fed they had to match as close as possible, thus the 14. Also remember after a year of service you are automatically promoted to a 4.
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    #87
    People with current federal service will come in at an equivalent step to what they make, subject to the maximum of the grade. The highest you can come in at is grade 5, step 14. There is no way to come in higher than grade 5 as an IMS.
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    #88
    If you only have desktop support experience for 5+ years shouldn't even apply for this correct?
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  15. Senior Member rwmidl's Avatar
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    #89
    Quote Originally Posted by stark4 View Post
    If you only have desktop support experience for 5+ years shouldn't even apply for this correct?
    It depends. If you meet the other requirements why not apply?
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    #90
    Quote Originally Posted by stark4 View Post
    If you only have desktop support experience for 5+ years shouldn't even apply for this correct?
    I had less than that when I applied. They used to have a qualification matrix along with the posting showing minimum combinations of experience, degree, and I think certifications. If you have a related bachelors and some certs then I would think you could qualify.

    I guess it's too late since the window closed. Sorry, but I don't come around to the forums very often anymore.
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