I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (graduated 2009), and I've been working for the DoD for a little over 5 years now, and lead a small design team. During that time I've completed my M.S. in Nuclear Engineering (graduated August 2014 with a 4.0 GPA). Now that the dust has settled, I'm trying to get a feel for what to do. The opportunity to use my new degree evaporated about halfway through (the project that I was intending to support went away with Sequestration). In my current position I do a lot of design work and FEA/CFD for packaging and cooling electronics in harsh environments, but I'm not using my nuclear degree at all, and I don't see any oppurtunity to do so in the near future. I'm worried that if I spend too much time here the degree will become irrelevant and a waste of time. Additionally, in my current position, I'm being paid as a GS-11 ($83,000 a year in the DC area), which I feel is a bit low for my level of experience and responsibility On the other hand, it is a secure job, I enjoy working with my team, and there will be steady (but slow) salary advancement. According to Salary.com, I should be making around a high end GS-12 or low end GS-13 salary (95-106k per year) for this area and my background. I've talked to my management, and there are no mechanisms in place for them to advance my salary faster (though they would if able,at least so they say). So, I wanted the input from some people who may work in the field: what are my prospects for a career change right now? Are my expectations way out of line, or am I shooting myself in the foot by staying? Any input appreciated!