Working as an RN in a GS Position overseas

by kellyjo44 (New) New

My husband is USAF and we are stationed in Okinawa Japan. There is a naval hospital here which I was recently hired onto. BUT I got my job offer letter and they are hiring me as a GS7 with a salary of 33,979. I am a new graduate RN but I have 5 years experience as an LPN. I was just thinking that this was low. I don't have any other option but to accept it since there is no where else for me to work but I was debating asking if this could be some kind of mistake. It works out to be just over $17/hr. My last job I worked as an LPN I was making $19/hr so this is a pay decrease when I went up in education...makes no sense to me! Any help is appreciated!!! THANK YOU!

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 42 years experience. 4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

You had 5 years experience/senority as an LPN. You have none as an RN. If were at home and hired here you LPN would give you an edge over another new grad and get hired but it wouldn't get you more money.

Salary depends on where you live in the US with an average these days of around $22 to $24 per hour. Many nurses state side can't find positions at all.....not even in LTC in this present economy.

Welcome to the reality of the propaganda the nurses will always have a job and make a lot of money......:smokin:


Specializes in Rehab. 13 Posts

It looks like there should be a locality pay added to your base pay as GS 7, but I'm not sure what it would be for Okinawa. Try googling overseas locality pay for government employees.


Specializes in Home Care. 1 Article; 2,188 Posts

Congratulations on getting that job!!! Who cares what the pay is, you're working!

NaKcl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. 236 Posts

Congratulations on getting a job in overseas.

Since it is a government job, Do they offer you any additional benefits?

such as housing allowence, or cost of living allowence or such.


29 Posts

Congratulations on snagging an RN job in Japan. I would definitely inquire about overseas COLA. As a government employee you should be entitled to additional monetary compensation, not just health benefits.

A Blooming Rose

20 Posts

Thats definitely only the base pay for a GS 7 step 1. Not including locality pay and other possible allowances.


Specializes in ER. 45 Posts

Take it and run with it! Your salary is only base pay - since you are OCONUS, you will get more money for allowances. PLUS, once you get into the GS system you will move up in salary on a slow but regular schedule. GS slots are getting to be very difficult to come by, so count yourself lucky. Congrats on the job! Get ready for a whole lot more acronyms!!


689 Posts

As an RN, you shouldve been given at least a GS-9 step 1. Especially since they are saving on your relocation costs, bonuses, etc. It may be too late but your GS grade determination is negotiable. What was it advertised as?


6 Posts

Thanks everyone! So I did ask the question and I would have to have 2 years of RN experience to be a GS 9. The job was listed for a GS 9 which is why I assumed that is what I would be getting, but they rewrote the job or something to offer it to me at a GS 7, apparently without 2 years experience I can not work as a GS 9.

I do think that I get COLA, I am not sure how much-- from what I understand it won't be much since my husband already receives COLA for our whole family. I am not sure about locality pay, I have never heard of this, I'll have to look into it. I doubt we would get any kind of housing allowance since my husband is AF and we live on base.

I am thankful to have a job and I am of course accepting it...I was just a little shocked about the pay...maybe with COLA and locality pay if I get that it will be better. I have no experience with the GS system so maybe I just don't know enough yet...


1 Post

My husband is active duty and we are PCSing to Okinawa in August/ Sept. 2012. I am a new grad RN with my ADN, but have a prior Bachelor's Degree... will it be hard for me to get hired out there? I will take any kind of RN positon; school, hospital, etc., but I will have to put 4 kids in daycare! :/ Will it be worth it financially? Are there many positions available? Kelly, did you go through USAJobs?




2 Posts


You may have trouble finding a job due to limited availability...but, it is "PCS Season" so you may get lucky with positions opening up. I've been here 6 months and am JUST now going through the hiring process (been trying to get a job since i got here). Here are some steps/tips that you may find helpful.

1. Build and/or upload your resume through USAJobs. Include EVERY single little nursing thing you've done, seen, whether it be in school, volunteering, working, whatever (dressing changes, NG tubes, etc, everything you can think of that will make you look better to the person reading). Unlike regular civilian resumes where they like consise descriptions, you have to write out everything for GS because a non medical person will "grade" your resume (not the person hiring/interviewing) and assign a GS position based on the experience they read. Just like in nursing "if you didn't document it, it didn't happen." My original resume nearly doubled in length when I made it into the GS version.

2. Create an automated search to search "nurse" in Okinawa on USAJobs. You will receive an email when a search matches your criteria. It will save you a ton of time spent logging on daily especially since they may only be up for 3 days online, even on weekends. I think you can apply for a job up to 30 days or so before you get here.

3. Look up the US Naval Hospital Okinawa site and view jobs openings for both regular and contract. Contract positions don't post on USAJobs.

4. After you redo your resume, get in touch with the HR person at the hospital and email your resume. They will print it and it will be available for the directors of the units to pull it up. If you're interested in a particular area, like med surg, express that do the HR person and they will usually forward your resume onto the unit director. I've heard that the departments sometimes do direct hire where the vacancy will never even make it onto USA Jobs. Also, find out who the department heads are and talk to them. Let them know you are interested. I kept in touch with the person in the area I was interested in weekly to every other week. Everyone here is on orders, so you can ask the dept heads when a civilian position will open up next.

5. Get a min 3 different NURSING recommendation letters before PCSing (teachers, employers, charge nurse, if youve had nursing experience, maybe a nurse or unit director of a floor you did rotations on), signed dated, contact information, and sealed. Request several copies from each person. To make it easier, I say request 10 copies from each person.

6. Keep multiple (10 to be safe) official sealed transcrips on hand. Last thing you'd want is to realize after the fact they got packed with your household goods and have NO idea which of the million boxes it could be in (like me lol) and then have to wait a couple of weeks to have the school send them out.

7. When you get here, go to one of the schools and fill out an application to be a nurse and/or substitute nurse. It's something. On the application, you will be able to select all the schools you would be willing to work/sub at so you don't have to fill out an application for every school. Maybe you can do some of this online..i don't know, I haven't looked.

8. Volunteer with the Red Cross as an RN in the hospital. To do so, enroll in the new volunteer orientation through CAMP FOSTER (you can enroll online or phone at least, but the class is in person). The other bases have Red Crosses as well, but the one on Foster gets you into the hospital. I think you get a little reimbursement for childcare expenses, but I don't know how much. You will hear the volunteer thing come up a lot. It is not a requirement/prerequisite to hiring, but it's another point on your resume AND it gets your foot in the door at the hospital. Plus, volunteers for the hospital need to go through the same orientations and background check/security clearances as an employee (which takes at LEAST 2 months by the way). You can volunteer while the lengthy bg check is going through, you just dont have computer access since you wont have a cac card yet. By doing this, it gives you a definite advantage over someone who hasn't done this because you will be closer to being ready to work than someone else. Also, stay on top of the red cross people and push when you can do get your things done.

I don't have any children, but I hear that childcare is expensive and I can certainly understand why you may not want to/cant volunteer. But really, it's just another way to get you known around the area. Nursing jobs are scarce here so anything to give you advantage, especially as a new grad.

9. Try going to the HR office at the Kadena clinic and leaving (or emailing) your resume with them.

10. Make friends/connections before you even get her!! I found out of the position through a spouse of someone my husband works with who's neighbor is a nurse. The unit your husband is in may have a facebook page and/or a group for the spouses. Message them and get to know them. You all should also have a sponsor/contact person out here that has been in touch with your husband. Ask that person for names/emails of the spouses and get info from them. You can even go broader than that and find that the enlisted/officers spouses club pages and get to know people. Connections do make a difference.

Lastly it's important to be proactive in this, but also be patient. Even after you receive a job offer, the process still takes several weeks. Try not to stress about it and enjoy the time out here with your family..make sure you bring and umbrella...and explore!! Okinawa is a nice place, the locals are super friendly, and there's just lots to absorb! Hope this helps and didn't put you to sleep!!

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