May 6, 2010 8:40 PM by Monica Quintero

Getting a job at Vandenberg AFB

We continue our special series "Getting Hired" with a look at a major employer that may not be on your radar. Vandenberg Air Force Base is home to thousands of enlisted airmen but also hundreds of civilian employees.

In fact, the base employs about 1,200 civilians in fields like engineering, firefighting and administration. Each year, Vandenberg hires about 300 civilians. One current opening is for an engineering technician.

It pays between $57,000 and $74,000. They're also recruiting for a firefighter who can make $38,000 to $50,000 a year.

In the mid-50's, the Camp Cooke Army Base was transferred to the air force and Vandenberg Air Force Base was born. The base is a city unto itself and keeping it running takes an army of military and civilian workers.

The civilian application process is an intensive one. Ben Roope, new VAFB employee, said, "It's pretty comprehensive." Roope was hired in March as the Chief of Pollution Prevention at Vandenberg. It took him about six hours just to initially apply.

Roope said, "Tell them why you're the right applicant for that, not that you're just an engineer. Am I generally a good engineer? I'd like to think so. Am I the right Chief of Pollution Prevention? That's going to take some thinking and some portrayal on your resume."

Brenda Nickles is the base's HR Technician for civilian personnel. Nickles said, "The only way you can get a job at Vandenberg Air Force Base for a permanent position, you have to go to the USA Jobs web site."

To find Vandenberg jobs, you must do a keyword search. There's also something different in this application process, you usually have to fill out some type of essay questions or a self evaluation. The application is then screened at the Air Force Personnel Center in Texas. If you make the cut, you'll get an email offering an interview. They're usually over the phone unless you live in the area.

Roope said, "Mostly people aren't going to have a face to face interview so that's what these documents that you upload to the site represent."

As a former Air Force Instructor, Roope had one big advantage from the start. He said, "If you have prior military service, it definitely assists you at the federal hiring process."

If you're trying to make the switch from the private sector, it helps to learn the lingo of the military.

Roope said, "Tailoring your resume to language that people here are going to understand is important. Talking with people who work in a similar capacity here to help you identify associative things such as that, I think will definitely help translate that resume and give you a good advantage."

Be patient, the hiring process at Vandenberg usually takes months. Along with the 1,200 civilian employees, around 2,000 enlisted personnel and 600 officers work at Vandenberg. There are also more than 2,500 contractors on the base.


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