No. of Recommendations: 2
This is NOT an answer to your question: I recommend a detailed spreadsheet to model your situation and all the variables.

My husband works for a contractor to the Dept. of Energy. Engineers for the contractor are pretty well compensated (assuming they are any good), although there are occasionally pay freezes, supervisors you don't get along with (i.e., nominal-to-no pay raises), long hours, lay-offs, changing pension plans/rules, etc.

Over the last decade my husband has seen a number of engineers move over to the DoE side in order to avoid these things. Unfortunately, many of those people have then run into the other side of the coin: lower pay than the private sector, getting paid the same as non-performing employees. Those who thought they were making smart financial choices when they were younger frequently become antagonistic and/or bitter towards their contractor counterparts (whom they oversee) as they get into their late 40's and 50's. It is not a pretty situation.

Run the numbers yourself. Think about the type of environment you want to work in. There is no right answer--pros and cons to both directions.

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