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NASA Engineer vs Navy Pilot

Which one?

  • NASA Engineer

    Votes: 9 17.6%
  • U.S. Navy SNA

    Votes: 42 82.4%

  • Total voters
    51

Aceleo

SNA
I was selected for SNA and I am slated to go to OCS on August 18th. I haven't taken the oath yet and I haven't received my final select letter.
However, after I submitted my Navy application, I also interviewed with NASA for an engineering position(just in case I didn't get the SNA slot). Luckily I survived the interview rounds and NASA wanted to give me an offer back in January but at the time the government shut down happened so they couldn't give me an offer. Fast forward to May, I got an SNA slot.

So here is the dilemma, I was happily prepping for OCS until NASA-JPL called me up yesterday offering me a very good engineering job with very good pay in Los Angeles. Basically a dream job for any engineer.

With NASA you get better work/life balance, live a decent social life and also earn a good salary. You can possibly live a happy family life and still have loads of fun at work.
With Navy Pilot, you get a more rewarding and challenging life. I plan on going to test pilot school and the possibility of even applying to become an astronaut in the future(I know that's some crazy dreams I got). I will lose the family connection and other social aspects compared to NASA. And also there is a chance that for some odd reason, I don't make it through flight training, I will be miserable for a couple of years with a different job at Navy. Let's just say, if I don't get to be a Pilot, there is a good chance I won't like it at the Navy. I know this is a very narrow-minded way of thinking and you gotta think "Officer first" but that's what my target goal is and if I don't make it, I won't be happy in the Navy. Also, I am quite old to be joining the Navy as a pilot. I will be 27 at OCS. The good thing is I am not married, at least for now.

In short
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Nice steady life with great job satisfaction, build stuff and send to Mars
US Navy Pilot - Risky and challenging life with very rewarding career opportunities, think Astronaut!

So I was hoping to get some thoughts on Navy Pilot vs NASA engineer. What is a more realistic feasible goal? What do current or past Pilot/NFOs think of this and what would they have done. Is astronaut even a realistic goal?

I know in the end I gotta ask myself what I truly want but for some reason, I keep going back an forth. Regardless of where I go, I will be serving this great country.
 

HuggyU2

Well-Known Member
None
During my last semester as a college Senior, I was offered a job by IBM to join their Space Station Division in Houston, Texas. I would have been on the initial cadre in a group of about 15 people. And I was the only college hire... everyone else was an IBM employee coming off of the Space Shuttle program. Obviously, a tremendous opportunity for a young computer programmer. I knew it was a great first step to fast career advancement, and that my technical skills would reach a whole new level in a short period of tie.

It was a no-brainer. I took the pilot slot.
 
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Aceleo

SNA
The navy and the recruiter put in all the work to get your depth perception fixed and this is how you pay them back?
Haha I am glad you remember me.
tbh, I dont want to be disrespectful but the navy recruiter did very little to get my depth perception fixed. When that came in negative, he simply said i wont be able to be a pilot and stopped right there.
After weeks of calling numerous bases myself, I finally was able to get in touch with doc at a AF base and set everything up and let my recruiter know. He then took me there, that's all. Even then my eyes weren't good and he told me again I won't be able to go for Pilot.
Then I went and got Lasik, waited 6 months and went back to that base and finally was able to get my eye approved and get my application in.
Suffice to say, i got very little help from the Navy regarding my depth perception. I got denied probably 6 times from N3M and they have no suggestions or help as to what I should do. The only thing they told me was I am not qualified.
Sorry for being salty about this whole thing, but the whole year of 2018, I was trying to get answers and get qualified with very little help from my recruiter.
 

nugget81

Well-Known Member
pilot
Don't worry about RecruitingGuru. It's not his choice to make. If I were in your shoes, I would ask myself what my gut tells me. Right now it says to eat lunch, but otherwise it would probably say to take the pilot slot and never look back. The context in which you put things make the Navy sound like a bigger risk between the two, but chances are it's a bigger reward as well. Good luck with your choice.
 

Yardstick

Is The Bottle Ready?!
pilot
The navy and the recruiter put in all the work to get your depth perception fixed and this is how you pay them back?
Don’t be an ass. He doesn’t owe anybody a damn thing, it’s his career and he needs to make the best decision for himself. Statements like yours exemplify why so many highly qualified aviators, like myself, are jumping ship left and right.
 

Pags

Pope of Chili Town
pilot
The navy and the recruiter put in all the work to get your depth perception fixed and this is how you pay them back?
Yes, the recruiter did his job. I'm sure he'll get a NAM.

OP: NASA/JPL isn't going anywhere. You can join the USN for 10-20yrs and come back and get an engineering job. I personally did 11yrs in the Navy and left and ended up doing engineering management work for NAVAIR. In the end I personally have found that I enjoy the engineering work more than I did my time in the USN but a lot of that is likely because of the perspective I got after my time in the Navy. Now that I've flown and done time abroad I can truly appreciate the work life balance that NAVAIR offers. I doubt my perspective would be as balanced had I gone straight to NAVAIR from undergrad.
 

Notanaviator

Well-Known Member
NASA/JPL isn't going anywhere. You can join the USN for 10-20yrs and come back and get an engineering job.
This. Trust your gut, for sure, but don't discount taking the route with a pretty finite window. The NASA route is a bird in the hand, but that door is much more likely to stay open for you in the future, especially with you bringing a more well-rounded CV to the table than you have now, vice the Naval Aviation door which will close for good at some point in the not distant future. In any case, good luck to you - sounds like you're blessed with two great options.
 

picklesuit

Dirty Hinge
pilot
Contributor
First: It’s impressive you’ve made the life choices thus far to allow you to select between being an Engineer for NASA/JPL and being a Naval Aviator.

That means you aren’t a slacker/dummy.

If I were in your shoes, I’d have to pick the one that is harder to get later in life, in case you regret that choice and want to change to the easier one.

I’m guessing there will always be a chance to go Engineering, but you have a cutoff for how many chances you get to fly for the Navy.

Good luck!

And fuck the recruiter, their job is to fill seats, pour honey down your ear, and fill seats. You don’t owe them anything. They are doing their job when they are “helping you out.”
 

exNavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
First: It’s impressive you’ve made the life choices thus far to allow you to select between being an Engineer for NASA/JPL and being a Naval Aviator.

That means you aren’t a slacker/dummy.

If I were in your shoes, I’d have to pick the one that is harder to get later in life, in case you regret that choice and want to change to the easier one.

I’m guessing there will always be a chance to go Engineering, but you have a cutoff for how many chances you get to fly for the Navy.

Good luck!

And fuck the recruiter, their job is to fill seats, pour honey down your ear, and fill seats. You don’t owe them anything. They are doing their job when they are “helping you out.”
I agree with you that it is impressive he has a choice like this to make.

I don't agree with your fuck the recruiter comment, yes it is the job to find people, but there is a difference between doing a job, and doing a job well. I guarantee you I would have still been considered a good recruiter if didn't put in much effort at all, but many of the people I didn't get into the USN probably would not have made it in if I hadn't gone above what my job required. I still am in contact with many of the people I put in the USN hearing about them getting married, having kids and other things. I wish I had contact with all of them but people lose track of each other. If I was his recruiter I would actually give him the same advice you gave him, and if he did make the choice to go to JPL I would be disappointed, but a simple thank you for what you did for me would be appreciated.

I would also say it does sound like many of these guys recruiters are clueless and need some training.
 

Swanee

Self aware since 2014
pilot
None
Contributor
No Naval Aviatior has ever said, "Man, I had the opportunity to work for x company, but I turned it down for this and I regret it everyday." But plenty of folks see a military airplane and imagine, "what if?!"
 

kejo

Well-Known Member
pilot
Have you proposed this question to NASA/JPL engineers? This like going to Hershey, PA and asking someone what kind of candy bar to buy.

devil's advocate
 

Rockriver

Well-Known Member
pilot
The opportunity to become part of a select group of pilots that fly off boats is knocking...right now...and it won’t knock again. NASA will probably still exist ten years from now and I suspect Mars isn’t going anywhere. Wouldn’t it be nice to someday tell your grandchildren that you were a shit hot fighter pilot before you were a shit hot rocket scientist?

(Actually, your grandchildren won’t care, but you might.)
 
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