When I think of Colorado Springs and the military, I immediately conjure pictures of soldiers at Fort Carson. However, there is a large Air Force presence in the area that’s contributing to the worldwide mission. Here are five things to consider about working for the Air Force in the Colorado Springs area.
1. You have options.
With three Air Force bases in the area, there’s something for everyone. Peterson Air Force Base is a full service base and home to the 21st Space Wing. The unit is the Air Force’s only organization responsible for providing missile warning and space control to unified commanders and combat forces worldwide. About 10 miles away, you’ll find Schriever Air Force Base, which is home to the 50th Space Wing. Their efforts revolve around commanding satellites and operating tracking stations around the world. And finally, the U.S. Air Force Academy is both an installation and a university. The 10th Air Base Wing provides logistical, medical and security support to the community there while the academy provides students with a four-year degree and a commission in the Air Force.
2. There are jobs available.
Many of the jobs in the Colorado Springs area focus on aerospace, defense and technology. At Peterson Air Force Base, it’s common to find listings for aerospace engineers, senior analysts and operations research analysts. At Schriever Air Force Base, listings include systems engineers, database administrators and information security representatives. It’s also common to see technology positions at the Air Force Academy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that other positions, like health care jobs and even administrative jobs, are available. The unemployment rate in Colorado Springs is 7.2 percent with job growth sitting at 2 percent.
3. It’s expensive.
Unlike Alabama and Texas, the cost of living in Colorado Springs is high at 0.7 percent above the national average. Homes are also on the more expensive side with the median home price falling around $215,000. If you’re considering a commute from Denver, be prepared for a cost of living that’s 6.5 percent above the national average with a median home price of $278,000. For those that are looking for tax-free military retirement benefits, Colorado is not for you. You’ll be required to pay taxes on all of your benefits unless you fall into one of two categories. In the first, people aged 55-64 are exempt from paying taxes on $20,000 of their yearly benefits. In the second scenario, people aged 65 or older are exempt from paying taxes on $24,000 of their yearly benefits.
4. People are educated.
Nearly 35 percent of the people in Colorado Springs have some form of college attainment. For those interested in pursuing higher education, there’s the local University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, which is home to about 10,000 students. Some of the graduate degrees offered by the university focus on electrical engineering, mechanical and aerospace engineering and space operations. It also has an office dedicated to veteran and military student affairs. Pikes Peak Community College is a two-year college that’s also located in the area. Nearly 22,000 students attend classes there with the goal of attaining an associate’s degree or certifications in career and technical fields.
5. It’s fun.
Colorado Springs is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. There are more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails as well as attractions like Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods. Oh and a little thing called Pikes Peak. There’s also a local minor league baseball team and an airport for easy travel. For those interested in driving an hour to Denver, there are museums, the theater and major sports teams. The area is also great for beer lovers. Colorado is also home to more than 10 percent of the nation’s craft breweries and has about 230 established breweries across the state. Each fall, Denver hosts the Great American Beer Festival where attendees can sample more than 1,800 brews from 400 of the nation’s top craft brewers.
Overall, working at an Air Force location in Colorado Springs could be a very unique and rewarding experience. However, it’s important that you consider the cost of living as you do your job search. Consider using this salary calculator to see how much you’d need to make to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in Colorado Springs.