Have you ever taken a pay cut for the sake of future career opportunities?

  • No, and I would not consider it.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No, and I regret missing an opportunity

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes, and it ended up being a good move

    Votes: 9 81.8%
  • Yes, and I regret it

    Votes: 1 9.1%
  • Yes, and I'm not sure yet

    Votes: 1 9.1%

  • Total voters
    11
  • Poll closed .
Mar 21, 2016
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I'm a PharmD, I've worked in a retail supermarket pharmacy for the past 5 years and came across an opportunity at the local VA Medical Center as a staff pharmacist, working mostly in the outpatient area but with some cross over to clinical. Essentially I'd be working the inpatient side one out of every 4 or 5 weeks. After months of red tape I've finally been made an offer at GS12 Step 5. The position is GS12 level so being in the middle is just about where I expected to land considering the extent of my clinical experience was while I was a student or intern. However the pay... I knew it would be less, and it's actually still fairly good for the VA, from what I gather, and it's still 6 figures due to the location based adjustment for this medical center, but overall I would still be taking a base salary pay cut of abour $32k.

Let me just say I know that nothing is going to pay me what retail - even if I switch chains I wouldn't make what I do now because of the overwhelming number of pharmacists flooding the northeast and starting pay today is not what it was 5 years ago. However my interest in the VA and this position in particular were:

A) To broaden my scope of practice and gain professional clinical experience. I don't want to work retail forever, and the only step up from where I am now is as pharmacy manager and the last thing I care to do is be pressured by corporate to give a certain number of flu shots this year or make sure we're maintaining inventory where they want it. I want to do more as a pharmacist and worry less about pushing business. I feel as though it will get more and more difficult the longer I wait to broaden my experience and this is a position willing to train me and push me into clinical if that is the way I really want to go.

B. The schedule, work/life balance. I currently work 12 hour days, 2 on 2 off, and every other Fri Sat Sun. The VA would provide a schedule of M - F 7:00-3:30PM or 8:00-4:30PM, with evening weekend coverage (3:00-11:30 or something like that) every 4th or 5th weekend.

C. The insurance/benefits. My current company's insurance is not very good, the VA essentially matches what my company matches in 401k and from what I've figured out with the pension that is still available at the VA, that's at least something they have on working in the private sector.

These things aside, I'm concerned about taking such a pay cut when I still carry a heavy burden of student loans - I'm faced with the decision to stay where I am to pay them down more, or pay them down less for now in hopes that this provides me with greater security and opportunities in the future.

Perhaps in writing this I've answered my own questions based on what sounds like more pros than cons but a base pay cut of $32k (bonuses ranging $6-10K) it is a difficult decision to make.

I'm curious if anyone has any experience taking a siginificant paycut for a career move, how it worked out, and considering my situation in particular, is a federal position the place to make this kind of jump, or is it a better idea to seek other avenues of expanding my scope of practice and skill set as a pharmacist?
 

MatCauthon

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Questions to look into:

1. What are the annual pay increases? If they increase faster than retail then it is worth it.

2. Are you you willing to moonlight an evening or weekend at another location for extra pay?

3. How does the time off compare to your retail job? VA hospitals should get all 11 federal holidays.

4. Do they have student loan repayment options (some VA hospitals still do)? If not you will probably still be eligible for the 10-year loan forgiveness program

5. Will you ever have this opportunity again? Versus will you ever have your current retail opportunity again?
 

Amicable Angora

Lagomorpha
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I'm a PharmD, I've worked in a retail supermarket pharmacy for the past 5 years and came across an opportunity at the local VA Medical Center as a staff pharmacist, working mostly in the outpatient area but with some cross over to clinical. Essentially I'd be working the inpatient side one out of every 4 or 5 weeks. After months of red tape I've finally been made an offer at GS12 Step 5. The position is GS12 level so being in the middle is just about where I expected to land considering the extent of my clinical experience was while I was a student or intern. However the pay... I knew it would be less, and it's actually still fairly good for the VA, from what I gather, and it's still 6 figures due to the location based adjustment for this medical center, but overall I would still be taking a base salary pay cut of abour $32k.

Let me just say I know that nothing is going to pay me what retail - even if I switch chains I wouldn't make what I do now because of the overwhelming number of pharmacists flooding the northeast and starting pay today is not what it was 5 years ago. However my interest in the VA and this position in particular were:

A) To broaden my scope of practice and gain professional clinical experience. I don't want to work retail forever, and the only step up from where I am now is as pharmacy manager and the last thing I care to do is be pressured by corporate to give a certain number of flu shots this year or make sure we're maintaining inventory where they want it. I want to do more as a pharmacist and worry less about pushing business. I feel as though it will get more and more difficult the longer I wait to broaden my experience and this is a position willing to train me and push me into clinical if that is the way I really want to go.

B. The schedule, work/life balance. I currently work 12 hour days, 2 on 2 off, and every other Fri Sat Sun. The VA would provide a schedule of M - F 7:00-3:30PM or 8:00-4:30PM, with evening weekend coverage (3:00-11:30 or something like that) every 4th or 5th weekend.

C. The insurance/benefits. My current company's insurance is not very good, the VA essentially matches what my company matches in 401k and from what I've figured out with the pension that is still available at the VA, that's at least something they have on working in the private sector.

These things aside, I'm concerned about taking such a pay cut when I still carry a heavy burden of student loans - I'm faced with the decision to stay where I am to pay them down more, or pay them down less for now in hopes that this provides me with greater security and opportunities in the future.

Perhaps in writing this I've answered my own questions based on what sounds like more pros than cons but a base pay cut of $32k (bonuses ranging $6-10K) it is a difficult decision to make.

I'm curious if anyone has any experience taking a siginificant paycut for a career move, how it worked out, and considering my situation in particular, is a federal position the place to make this kind of jump, or is it a better idea to seek other avenues of expanding my scope of practice and skill set as a pharmacist?

You answered your own question, go for your long term goal!
 
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ChalupaBatman86

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Go to the VA. You can always go back to retail. You won't miss the money as much as you think.

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rxdawg21

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Just be glad they offered you a step 5 position. I was offered GS12 step 1 after being out a year and a half with 1 year manager experience. It ended up being a 30k pay cut but was really about 20 k after overtime was considered (we were on call so many weekends got on call pay plus overtime pay when called in). This job is way better in the fact that I couldn't imagine going back to retail and I've only been here a year. Night and day comparison. I also stayed on with my retail company to work one weekend a month which also helped with the pay cut.
 
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Elle928

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I'm a PharmD, I've worked in a retail supermarket pharmacy for the past 5 years and came across an opportunity at the local VA Medical Center as a staff pharmacist, working mostly in the outpatient area but with some cross over to clinical. Essentially I'd be working the inpatient side one out of every 4 or 5 weeks. After months of red tape I've finally been made an offer at GS12 Step 5. The position is GS12 level so being in the middle is just about where I expected to land considering the extent of my clinical experience was while I was a student or intern. However the pay... I knew it would be less, and it's actually still fairly good for the VA, from what I gather, and it's still 6 figures due to the location based adjustment for this medical center, but overall I would still be taking a base salary pay cut of abour $32k.

Let me just say I know that nothing is going to pay me what retail - even if I switch chains I wouldn't make what I do now because of the overwhelming number of pharmacists flooding the northeast and starting pay today is not what it was 5 years ago. However my interest in the VA and this position in particular were:

A) To broaden my scope of practice and gain professional clinical experience. I don't want to work retail forever, and the only step up from where I am now is as pharmacy manager and the last thing I care to do is be pressured by corporate to give a certain number of flu shots this year or make sure we're maintaining inventory where they want it. I want to do more as a pharmacist and worry less about pushing business. I feel as though it will get more and more difficult the longer I wait to broaden my experience and this is a position willing to train me and push me into clinical if that is the way I really want to go.

B. The schedule, work/life balance. I currently work 12 hour days, 2 on 2 off, and every other Fri Sat Sun. The VA would provide a schedule of M - F 7:00-3:30PM or 8:00-4:30PM, with evening weekend coverage (3:00-11:30 or something like that) every 4th or 5th weekend.

C. The insurance/benefits. My current company's insurance is not very good, the VA essentially matches what my company matches in 401k and from what I've figured out with the pension that is still available at the VA, that's at least something they have on working in the private sector.

These things aside, I'm concerned about taking such a pay cut when I still carry a heavy burden of student loans - I'm faced with the decision to stay where I am to pay them down more, or pay them down less for now in hopes that this provides me with greater security and opportunities in the future.

Perhaps in writing this I've answered my own questions based on what sounds like more pros than cons but a base pay cut of $32k (bonuses ranging $6-10K) it is a difficult decision to make.

I'm curious if anyone has any experience taking a siginificant paycut for a career move, how it worked out, and considering my situation in particular, is a federal position the place to make this kind of jump, or is it a better idea to seek other avenues of expanding my scope of practice and skill set as a pharmacist?

Just be glad they offered you a step 5 position. I was offered GS12 step 1 after being out a year and a half with 1 year manager experience. It ended up being a 30k pay cut but was really about 20 k after overtime was considered (we were on call so many weekends got on call pay plus overtime pay when called in). This job is way better in the fact that I couldn't imagine going back to retail and I've only been here a year. Night and day comparison. I also stayed on with my retail company to work one weekend a month which also helped with the pay cut.

I just went through this and still go back and forth with whether or not I made the right decision. I switched from retail and also started at a 12-1, which ended up being a 40k pay cut. Although I know that long term this was a good decision, i am somewhat struggling financially now because of all of the student loans that I have. Sometimes I wish that I had stuck it out in retail for another couple of years until my loans were a little bit lower. But I guess the whole grass is greener on the side thing. These opportunities are not easy to come by. Everyone wants a federal job. The quality of life is so much better, no stress, stable work hours, etc. Our salaries will go up eventually, but in the short term, it is somewhat difficult being back on a budget, especially when after loans, health insurance, retirement, and living expenses, there isn't much left at the end of the month.
 
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Reirrac

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Working for the VA would be one of the best career outcomes one can hope for. Sure, the pay cut will hurt but other intangible benefits make up for it.
 
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cj98

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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?
 

Amicable Angora

Lagomorpha
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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?
Would you mind private messaging me some more information about your change and some tips to break in?
 

Dysic

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I am in a similar situation to the OP. Currently, I am a highly compensated Walmart staff pharmacist. Although I am happy with Walmart, I will soon be turning in my 2 weeks notice to onboard with the VA as an outpatient/inpatient pharmacist floater. The hiring process with the VA is lengthy. The hiring manager gave me a questionaire to fill out about my clinical experience that will determine my GS-12 step salary grade. If anyone has any advice about how to land a higher GS-12 step; please message me!
 

Sine Cura

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At the very least your knees will thank you
 
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MrBonita

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The VA is a learning facility which means there are tons of pharmacy/medical/nursing female students/interns/residents. Majority of these females were unhitched because of school when I was at the VA. I had a great time meeting women while at the VA and the women to men ratio is in your favor. I had women calling me during my student days there but Alas I had to leave and I did not want to. If you go to the VA your mate value will skyrocket because you are someone who has a job and has tons of power at the VA. You will be like a kid in a candy store. I would gladly trade with you if that were possible. Makes me wish I had a time machine to go back to the VA days.
 
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Considering I'm a woman, and I have a boyfriend, I'm not considering the dating potential as a priority....

I too applied previously for federal jobs but was advised by a veteran and previous federal employee to tailor my resume to the exact position listing using many of the same words and exact phrasing that the listing uses to even get through the computer screening and onto the desk of someone in HR. It was still a very slow process, the closing was Nov 13, I wasn't contacted until mid December for an interview, and wasn't made a tentative offer until early February. After all the red tape I was finally made a formal offer on March 17th. It should also be noted this is at the White River Junction, VT location, so the number of people applying in this area is probably less than in more population dense areas. I've been told this is a good place to get into a VA position due to the location.

I read through many websites on how to write my KSAs as they are primarily what determines what step you start at. I sent lengthy responses covering everything applicable per question from my start of pharmacy school through my current position. Listing more is better than less, you don't want to sell yourself short, they will not assume any kind of experience based on your education or positions held.

I'm getting the impression now that being placed at Step 5 is reasonable and I am pleased with the placement. I just spoke with HR today and I'm going to propose a negotiated offer and was advised to attach my last two pay stubs to show what I have been making. This will no doubt delay the start date even longer but it can't hurt to try. I'll follow up with what happens. Thank you everyone for all your input, it has been incredibly helpful to hear from others who have made this jump and the opinions of those who would like to. For all those that are seeking federal positions, take my advice on the tailoring of your resume - this is key.
 
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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?

Did you negotiate to get to $112k? I'm just wondering since you said you're a fairly new grad and most positions would be GS12 so in my location this correlates with somewhere between steps 8 and 9, so I'm curious if the $112k correlated to a higher step or location based difference.
 

Dysic

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Considering I'm a woman, and I have a boyfriend, I'm not considering the dating potential as a priority....

I too applied previously for federal jobs but was advised by a veteran and previous federal employee to tailor my resume to the exact position listing using many of the same words and exact phrasing that the listing uses to even get through the computer screening and onto the desk of someone in HR. It was still a very slow process, the closing was Nov 13, I wasn't contacted until mid December for an interview, and wasn't made a tentative offer until early February. After all the red tape I was finally made a formal offer on March 17th. It should also be noted this is at the White River Junction, VT location, so the number of people applying in this area is probably less than in more population dense areas. I've been told this is a good place to get into a VA position due to the location.

I read through many websites on how to write my KSAs as they are primarily what determines what step you start at. I sent lengthy responses covering everything applicable per question from my start of pharmacy school through my current position. Listing more is better than less, you don't want to sell yourself short, they will not assume any kind of experience based on your education or positions held.

I'm getting the impression now that being placed at Step 5 is reasonable and I am pleased with the placement. I just spoke with HR today and I'm going to propose a negotiated offer and was advised to attach my last two pay stubs to show what I have been making. This will no doubt delay the start date even longer but it can't hurt to try. I'll follow up with what happens. Thank you everyone for all your input, it has been incredibly helpful to hear from others who have made this jump and the opinions of those who would like to. For all those that are seeking federal positions, take my advice on the tailoring of your resume - this is key.

Can you message me the websites you used to write your KSA?

Thank you!
 

Elle928

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Considering I'm a woman, and I have a boyfriend, I'm not considering the dating potential as a priority....

I too applied previously for federal jobs but was advised by a veteran and previous federal employee to tailor my resume to the exact position listing using many of the same words and exact phrasing that the listing uses to even get through the computer screening and onto the desk of someone in HR. It was still a very slow process, the closing was Nov 13, I wasn't contacted until mid December for an interview, and wasn't made a tentative offer until early February. After all the red tape I was finally made a formal offer on March 17th. It should also be noted this is at the White River Junction, VT location, so the number of people applying in this area is probably less than in more population dense areas. I've been told this is a good place to get into a VA position due to the location.

I read through many websites on how to write my KSAs as they are primarily what determines what step you start at. I sent lengthy responses covering everything applicable per question from my start of pharmacy school through my current position. Listing more is better than less, you don't want to sell yourself short, they will not assume any kind of experience based on your education or positions held.

I'm getting the impression now that being placed at Step 5 is reasonable and I am pleased with the placement. I just spoke with HR today and I'm going to propose a negotiated offer and was advised to attach my last two pay stubs to show what I have been making. This will no doubt delay the start date even longer but it can't hurt to try. I'll follow up with what happens. Thank you everyone for all your input, it has been incredibly helpful to hear from others who have made this jump and the opinions of those who would like to. For all those that are seeking federal positions, take my advice on the tailoring of your resume - this is key.

Congrats on making your decision! I dont work for the VA ( im in hhs) but i know our process for salary negotiations took about a month. Your paystubs along with a statement on why you should be making more money gets sent to the main agency HR people and then they decide whether or not to approve it. Hopefully youre able to get it approved!
 
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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?
What area you in?
 

bacillus1

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About your student loans, is this an EDRP position? EDRP stands for Education Debt Reduction Program. This means that they pay off a substantial part of your loans (mine is 55k if I stay 5 years, basically 10-12k per year in yearly installments). It should say on the original announcement whether your position is an EDRP position. Then you wouldn't have to worry about loans as much.
 

cj98

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Did you negotiate to get to $112k? I'm just wondering since you said you're a fairly new grad and most positions would be GS12 so in my location this correlates with somewhere between steps 8 and 9, so I'm curious if the $112k correlated to a higher step or location based difference.

I don't work for the VA, I work for the state. I've heard the state pays a little higher than federal positions. 112k is the starting salary for state pharmacists in California.
 
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samven582

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Considering I'm a woman, and I have a boyfriend, I'm not considering the dating potential as a priority....

I too applied previously for federal jobs but was advised by a veteran and previous federal employee to tailor my resume to the exact position listing using many of the same words and exact phrasing that the listing uses to even get through the computer screening and onto the desk of someone in HR. It was still a very slow process, the closing was Nov 13, I wasn't contacted until mid December for an interview, and wasn't made a tentative offer until early February. After all the red tape I was finally made a formal offer on March 17th. It should also be noted this is at the White River Junction, VT location, so the number of people applying in this area is probably less than in more population dense areas. I've been told this is a good place to get into a VA position due to the location.

I read through many websites on how to write my KSAs as they are primarily what determines what step you start at. I sent lengthy responses covering everything applicable per question from my start of pharmacy school through my current position. Listing more is better than less, you don't want to sell yourself short, they will not assume any kind of experience based on your education or positions held.

I'm getting the impression now that being placed at Step 5 is reasonable and I am pleased with the placement. I just spoke with HR today and I'm going to propose a negotiated offer and was advised to attach my last two pay stubs to show what I have been making. This will no doubt delay the start date even longer but it can't hurt to try. I'll follow up with what happens. Thank you everyone for all your input, it has been incredibly helpful to hear from others who have made this jump and the opinions of those who would like to. For all those that are seeking federal positions, take my advice on the tailoring of your resume - this is key.
Can you post the websites you use on how to write your KSA?
 

samven582

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The VA is a learning facility which means there are tons of pharmacy/medical/nursing female students/interns/residents. Majority of these females were unhitched because of school when I was at the VA. I had a great time meeting women while at the VA and the women to men ratio is in your favor. I had women calling me during my student days there but Alas I had to leave and I did not want to. If you go to the VA your mate value will skyrocket because you are someone who has a job and has tons of power at the VA. You will be like a kid in a candy store. I would gladly trade with you if that were possible. Makes me wish I had a time machine to go back to the VA days.
Dude, you work for Kaiser permanente. What are you complaining about?
 

PharFromNormal

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Worth is in the eye of the beholder. How you value different things in your life is up to you. How you weight others opinions and percieved opinions is also on you. There's some good points in here on pros and cons but at the end of the day own your decision on how heavy those things are. There's no easy formula to convert stress levels, personal satisfaction, professional satisfaction into a dollar amount and those that try and do it are only specific to those people. whatever your decision is own it and don't look back.
 
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DesiRX

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Worth is in the eye of the beholder. How you value different things in your life is up to you. How you weight others opinions and percieved opinions is also on you. There's some good points in here on pros and cons but at the end of the day own your decision on how heavy those things are. There's no easy formula to convert stress levels, personal satisfaction, professional satisfaction into a dollar amount and those that try and do it are only specific to those people. whatever your decision is own it and don't look back.
Well said...
 

JanuviaGrl

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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?

I'm filling out an application online. So many documents to send with application. Does anyone know anything about the occupational questionnaire? Filling it out refers you to questions on the "vacancy announcement instructions ". I don't see anything like that on the specific job listing online. If someone can tell me how to fill out the questionnaire and how to even find the questions, will be very helpful. Thanks.


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I just went through this and still go back and forth with whether or not I made the right decision. I switched from retail and also started at a 12-1, which ended up being a 40k pay cut. Although I know that long term this was a good decision, i am somewhat struggling financially now because of all of the student loans that I have. Sometimes I wish that I had stuck it out in retail for another couple of years until my loans were a little bit lower. But I guess the whole grass is greener on the side thing. These opportunities are not easy to come by. Everyone wants a federal job. The quality of life is so much better, no stress, stable work hours, etc. Our salaries will go up eventually, but in the short term, it is somewhat difficult being back on a budget, especially when after loans, health insurance, retirement, and living expenses, there isn't much left at the end of the month.

After an attempt to negotiate, they didn't budge, so I am taking a roughly $40k cut as well. I too have a TON of student loans, and I've been paying extra towards them with my income in retail, but I am concerned about this with my new income. Thing is, at my retail pay, I spend on everything and anything I want. I buy expensive clothes, spend too much on groceries, go out too much. I just have to learn to take a cut in the areas that I didn't have to watch before. I know it's more difficult that it seems, but I look at the area I live in and think about how many people, couples with kids, who maybe just make what I will at the VA combined. They have mortgages, and kids are expensive. I imagine my combination of pricey rent for the area and the minimum amount due in student loans compares well to these expenses at the least. It's a matter of life style that will just have to change with a pay cut. When they didn't budge on the salary offer - I was expecting it, I've already been thinking for months about where I can cut expenses - and like you said, our salaries will go up eventually. I'm going into the situation knowing that I'm very well qualified for this position and willing to learn everything I can as quickly as I can. I'm not your usual super motivated employee, but the opportunities to move into positions that actually excite me are so numerous, that I know I can and will move up if I go in there and give it my all. I know I sound like a crazy over-positive person, but I just know. This is the reason I'm taking the position - it's a cut now, but it's the door to the future of my career, it's the first step in the direction I've been dying to take. And I'm so thankful.
 
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Mar 21, 2016
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I also went from a retail position where I made 140k annually to a government job where my annual salary now is 112k. I'm a fairly new grad so I was also concerned about loans but I think everything balances out in the long run. There's no other place that will offer you retirement benefits like a government position, so that will pay off in the future. In addition, you gain additional skill sets. If your supermarket were to close down, your only option will be to work for cvs, I think. If you get laid off from the VA or whatever, at least you have experience to go into hospital, am care, back to retail, etc.

Since government jobs are low stress, I kept my retail job and work every other weekend, so my overall salary didn't decrease so much. Maybe look into doing this also?

Unfortunately my current employer has a staffing structure where there isn't a need for someone to work here and there. It would end up being a major stressor and possibly inflict on the flexible schedule that was a huge part of the reason the VA is so appealing. I'll find out more about opportunities for overtime, and in the mean time since I work as a consultant at the local methadone/suboxone facility, I'm going to search for some other ways to supplement my income whether it be consulting or education.
 
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Momus

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After an attempt to negotiate, they didn't budge, so I am taking a roughly $40k cut as well. I too have a TON of student loans, and I've been paying extra towards them with my income in retail, but I am concerned about this with my new income. Thing is, at my retail pay, I spend on everything and anything I want. I buy expensive clothes, spend too much on groceries, go out too much. I just have to learn to take a cut in the areas that I didn't have to watch before. I know it's more difficult that it seems, but I look at the area I live in and think about how many people, couples with kids, who maybe just make what I will at the VA combined. They have mortgages, and kids are expensive. I imagine my combination of pricey rent for the area and the minimum amount due in student loans compares well to these expenses at the least. It's a matter of life style that will just have to change with a pay cut. When they didn't budge on the salary offer - I was expecting it, I've already been thinking for months about where I can cut expenses - and like you said, our salaries will go up eventually. I'm going into the situation knowing that I'm very well qualified for this position and willing to learn everything I can as quickly as I can. I'm not your usual super motivated employee, but the opportunities to move into positions that actually excite me are so numerous, that I know I can and will move up if I go in there and give it my all. I know I sound like a crazy over-positive person, but I just know. This is the reason I'm taking the position - it's a cut now, but it's the door to the future of my career, it's the first step in the direction I've been dying to take. And I'm so thankful.
2% raise a year avg? It will take 15 yrs to get 40k back
 
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2% raise a year avg? It will take 15 yrs to get 40k back
I am assuming within a few years I'll move into another position at GS13 which in my location brings me up to within $10k of what I make now. And, yes, it will take a long time to make back what I'm not making in retail, but I think you missed the point of this - it's not about money. I'll never get back the miserable years ahead staying in retail just for money. I'm taking a $40k cut including bonuses and stuff that they will be shortly taking away as well. Retail will always be there. It's not like I'm not making something I can't live on.
 
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awval999

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At a point, money just doesn't matter anymore.

I still don't make what Walmart offered me in 2010; $118,000. But it doesn't matter. I don't work retail. I don't have to show up at Walmart everyday. I don't have to go to work with dread everyday. The finances will work out eventually. You may pay another year on student loans. Or only 3 vacations a year instead of 4. Or only a 2000 sq ft house instead of 3000. But it's just, simply, worth it.
 
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bacillus1

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I am assuming within a few years I'll move into another position at GS13 which in my location brings me up to within $10k of what I make now. And, yes, it will take a long time to make back what I'm not making in retail, but I think you missed the point of this - it's not about money. I'll never get back the miserable years ahead staying in retail just for money. I'm taking a $40k cut including bonuses and stuff that they will be shortly taking away as well. Retail will always be there. It's not like I'm not making something I can't live on.

...good luck with that...you'll be competing with lots of other people who also want to move up, so don't assume anything. Also I took a pay cut going from a 12 to a 13, since I moved to a location with a lower cost of living.
Do definitely check whether you qualify for EDRP though. Also, my old job should be open soon, if you are residency trained and are OK with that kind of environment. Should be an EDRP position.
 
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...good luck with that...you'll be competing with lots of other people who also want to move up, so don't assume anything. Also I took a pay cut going from a 12 to a 13, since I moved to a location with a lower cost of living.
Do definitely check whether you qualify for EDRP though. Also, my old job should be open soon, if you are residency trained and are OK with that kind of environment. Should be an EDRP position.

I've checked, it's not an EDRP position, it's not exactly difficult to find pharmacists to fill a position in the Northeast.

We have very different perspectives on this situation, let's just leave it at that. Move along.
 

Elle928

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After an attempt to negotiate, they didn't budge, so I am taking a roughly $40k cut as well. I too have a TON of student loans, and I've been paying extra towards them with my income in retail, but I am concerned about this with my new income. Thing is, at my retail pay, I spend on everything and anything I want. I buy expensive clothes, spend too much on groceries, go out too much. I just have to learn to take a cut in the areas that I didn't have to watch before. I know it's more difficult that it seems, but I look at the area I live in and think about how many people, couples with kids, who maybe just make what I will at the VA combined. They have mortgages, and kids are expensive. I imagine my combination of pricey rent for the area and the minimum amount due in student loans compares well to these expenses at the least. It's a matter of life style that will just have to change with a pay cut. When they didn't budge on the salary offer - I was expecting it, I've already been thinking for months about where I can cut expenses - and like you said, our salaries will go up eventually. I'm going into the situation knowing that I'm very well qualified for this position and willing to learn everything I can as quickly as I can. I'm not your usual super motivated employee, but the opportunities to move into positions that actually excite me are so numerous, that I know I can and will move up if I go in there and give it my all. I know I sound like a crazy over-positive person, but I just know. This is the reason I'm taking the position - it's a cut now, but it's the door to the future of my career, it's the first step in the direction I've been dying to take. And I'm so thankful.

This is EXACTLY how I felt! I was at a point where I didn't have to think about how much I was spending on clothes, trips, going out etc, putting extra money in towards my loans, and still have money being put in savings. But I really do feel like it will be worth in in the long run, in terms of where our careers have the potential of going, benefits, job security, and quality of life. I cant shop at Saks like I used to, but you cant put a price on peace of mind. Its hard sometimes, and sometimes i think everything would have been easier if I had stayed in retail, but its better that we take this cut now while we are young and have no responsibilities vs 10 years from now when we have families, kids, mortgages, etc. By then, hopefully we'll be closer (salary wise) to where we were in retail.

They didnt budge on mine either :(. I reconsolidated my loans so that they would be eligible for PSLF, and got on an income based plan, which is about 1/2 of what I was paying on loans before. That has really helped. In terms of moving up, Im not sure how it works at the VA, but HHS has ladder positions. So pharmacists are usually a 12-13. You stay in 12 for a year or two, and then your position gets converted to a 13. I also agree that the possibility of other opportunities this switch could bring is super exciting! I think we'll be okay:)
 
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IndyPrePharm

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Vacation:
0-2 years = 104 hours/year

3-14 years = 160 hours/year

15 years-+ = 208 hours/year

*Vacation maxes out at 240 hours/year. Unused vacation rolls over every year, but the max is 240 hours. No additional hours of vacation can be accrued above 240 hours.


Flexibility for Relocating:
And, only one active, unrestricted state license is required to work in any VA facility. When employees decide to relocate, they may seek employment at any location with a vacancy, and if hired, transfer with no loss of benefits and no re-licensing required. (You can work in Indiana and transfer to Ohio VA, and never get licensed in Ohio; just keep Indiana license, etc.).


The VA is one of the few entities that rewards pharmacists for being clinical (possibly increase in pay grade) and they also increase pay grade for board certification
-Board cert – 2 steps

-Masters – 2 steps

-Non-traditional residency – 2 steps

-Traditional residency – 2 steps


Retirement:

FERS (pension)…4.4% of pay (used to be less if you talk to those that’ve worked for VA prior to 2014)

Eligible for receiving pension after at least 5 years of service. Minimum retirement age depends on age

FERS Compensation Upon Retirement:



Age

Formula

Under Age 62 at Separation for Retirement, OR
Age 62 or Older With Less Than 20 Years of Service

1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service

Age 62 or Older at Separation With 20 or More Years of Service

1.1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service



*Anytime there is a COLA (cost of living adjustment), and you are already retired and over age 62, your FERS will also be increased by the same amount so you’re retirement package can increase as you age still!


Thrift Savings Plan (401K)

The first 3% is matched dollar-for-dollar by your agency;

the next 2% is matched at 50 cents on the dollar. This

means that when you contribute 5% of your basic pay,

your agency contributes another 4% of your basic pay to

your TSP account. Together with the Agency Automatic

(1%) Contribution you get, your agency puts in a total of

5%. You can obviously contribute more than 5% to your TSP, but 5% is the most the government will match you on.


Sick leave:

Accrue 13 days of leave each year with no limit on accumulation. Sick leave is kept separate from Annual leave (vacation time).



Shift differentials:

25% on weekends (this includes if you work Friday night shift, so Fri-Sun night shifts are all considered weekend)

10% on night shift (starts at 6pm so if you work evening shift you’ll get some of this as well)

Overtime is at time and a half your regular wage.


Holidays:
10 Federal holidays observed - if you work the holiday, you get paid double your hourly wage.

The benefit that is INVALUABLE to you when you retire:
You (and your spouse!) can continue on the same insurance plan as what you had with the VA for the same premium costs as current employees! This is huge while you're waiting to turn that magical age to qualify for Medicare (this will come in handy since you'll likely get to retire quite early compared to the norm by working for the VA based on their minimum retirement age chart).

The insurance benefits are wonderful as well! It's all of these little benefits that add up to = a much better deal than retail could offer! I qualified for the EDRP (Education Debt Reduction Program) that is reimbursing me for my student loan payments that I'm making (as mentioned above), but not all positions will offer that. You may also ask about them matching your current pay. HR asked me to send them a current paystub from my retail employer if their offer came in below it and they would at least match my current pay. Again, this probably depends on what you're applying for within the VA though. Mine happened to be a hard-to-fill night shift pharmacist position. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense, but you've probably googled most of this awesomeness!
 
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bacillus1

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Vacation:
0-2 years = 104 hours/year

3-14 years = 160 hours/year

15 years-+ = 208 hours/year

*Vacation maxes out at 240 hours/year. Unused vacation rolls over every year, but the max is 240 hours. No additional hours of vacation can be accrued above 240 hours.


Flexibility for Relocating:
And, only one active, unrestricted state license is required to work in any VA facility. When employees decide to relocate, they may seek employment at any location with a vacancy, and if hired, transfer with no loss of benefits and no re-licensing required. (You can work in Indiana and transfer to Ohio VA, and never get licensed in Ohio; just keep Indiana license, etc.).


The VA is one of the few entities that rewards pharmacists for being clinical (possibly increase in pay grade) and they also increase pay grade for board certification
-Board cert – 2 steps

-Masters – 2 steps

-Non-traditional residency – 2 steps

-Traditional residency – 2 steps


Retirement:

FERS (pension)…4.4% of pay (used to be less if you talk to those that’ve worked for VA prior to 2014)

Eligible for receiving pension after at least 5 years of service. Minimum retirement age depends on age

FERS Compensation Upon Retirement:



Age

Formula

Under Age 62 at Separation for Retirement, OR
Age 62 or Older With Less Than 20 Years of Service

1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service

Age 62 or Older at Separation With 20 or More Years of Service

1.1 percent of your high-3 average salary for each year of service



*Anytime there is a COLA (cost of living adjustment), and you are already retired and over age 62, your FERS will also be increased by the same amount so you’re retirement package can increase as you age still!


Thrift Savings Plan (401K)

The first 3% is matched dollar-for-dollar by your agency;

the next 2% is matched at 50 cents on the dollar. This

means that when you contribute 5% of your basic pay,

your agency contributes another 4% of your basic pay to

your TSP account. Together with the Agency Automatic

(1%) Contribution you get, your agency puts in a total of

5%. You can obviously contribute more than 5% to your TSP, but 5% is the most the government will match you on.


Sick leave:

Accrue 13 days of leave each year with no limit on accumulation. Sick leave is kept separate from Annual leave (vacation time).



Shift differentials:

25% on weekends (this includes if you work Friday night shift, so Fri-Sun night shifts are all considered weekend)

10% on night shift (starts at 6pm so if you work evening shift you’ll get some of this as well)

Overtime is at time and a half your regular wage.


Holidays:
10 Federal holidays observed - if you work the holiday, you get paid double your hourly wage.

The benefit that is INVALUABLE to you when you retire:
You (and your spouse!) can continue on the same insurance plan as what you had with the VA for the same premium costs as current employees! This is huge while you're waiting to turn that magical age to qualify for Medicare (this will come in handy since you'll likely get to retire quite early compared to the norm by working for the VA based on their minimum retirement age chart).

The insurance benefits are wonderful as well! It's all of these little benefits that add up to = a much better deal than retail could offer! I qualified for the EDRP (Education Debt Reduction Program) that is reimbursing me for my student loan payments that I'm making (as mentioned above), but not all positions will offer that. You may also ask about them matching your current pay. HR asked me to send them a current paystub from my retail employer if their offer came in below it and they would at least match my current pay. Again, this probably depends on what you're applying for within the VA though. Mine happened to be a hard-to-fill night shift pharmacist position. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense, but you've probably googled most of this awesomeness!

Pretty accurate. Only thing I would like to add is that some benefits are location specific. For example, not all locations give 2 steps for residency plus 2 steps for BCPS. My old site only gave 1 step for residency, and I heard about one VA that does not give any steps for BCPS. The national guidelines for step increases are just guidelines, and individual VAs may choose not to follow them. Also I thought the weekend differential was 20%, not 25, but I may be wrong.
Insurance isn't as good as some places, where if you are single you would get free health insurance. At the VA, you actually have to pay, but you actually have a lot of choice as to what plan you get.
 
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I started working for the VA after 2.5 years in the retail jungle (1 year as a pharmacy manager). I took a 40k hit. WOW! However, best decision I made, no regrets. I LOVE IT! You will have the opportunity to work in various areas of the pharmacy i.e. in/outpatient, narcotics, preceptor, etc. etc.... I have a lot to say but I will keep the post short. Good Luck!!:soexcited::soexcited:
 
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