Career fields in government range from cybersecurity to environmental safety to public health. Public servants are passionate about making a difference in the world and keen to help our government tackle complex national and global challenges.
WHY WORK IN GOVERNMENT?
The chance to make a difference
Federal employees change lives here and around the world, working to end homelessness, find cures for disease, keep our food supply safe and more.
Great benefits and competitive pay
Average salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors, and benefits—including health insurance, retirement and vacation—can be better. And federal salaries can increase quickly.
Location, location, location
Nearly 85% of government jobs are outside the Washington, D.C., area, and more than 50,000 federal employees work abroad.
Jobs for every interest
Whether you want to work in technology, medicine, engineering or national security, or have an interest in art history, zoology or architecture, you can find federal opportunities to meet your needs.
You can find interesting, challenging and groundbreaking work in the federal government, much of it similar to work in the private sector, only on a grander scale and with greater impact. Federal employees develop vaccines for deadly diseases, fight sexual and racial discrimination, and work on climate change issues.
Federal jobs can offer flexible work schedules, including telework and remote work. In addition to generous vacation and sick leave, employees get 11 federal holidays off, including Veterans Day and Juneteenth.
Professional development and advancement opportunities
You can find excellent training and development opportunities in government. Many federal agencies work with employees to create individual development plans to help plan short- and long-term career goals. Once you have such a plan, you can find opportunities that align with your goals and help you advance in your career. The Partnership’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government not only ranks agencies according to how their employees rate their overall experience, it includes ratings on professional development. Check it out to see how your prospective agency stacks up against others.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
Rules and regulations
Our government has a complex system of rules and procedures for running agencies, employees and programs. Yes, that can slow down how work gets done. But agencies have good reason to act with care: Taxpayer money is at stake. Yours and mine. Agencies need to carefully weigh their decisions to make the best use of those funds.
The hiring process
It typically takes longer for the federal government to hire people than it does in other sectors. The one positive spin we can put on that is there’s a government-wide effort to improve the hiring process, and we’re all for it!
While many government salaries are comparable to those in the private sector, a pay ceiling for a range of positions means federal employees in some professions earn lower salaries than their private sector counterparts—think doctor and lawyer, to name two. Many of the government’s top professional jobs pay annual salaries ranging from $117,000 to $177,000. Yet, you’ll read about government superstars who often say they don’t do it for the money but for the satisfaction they get from serving the public, doing interesting work.
The higher-ups at agencies—the department secretaries, deputy secretaries, administrators and others—are appointed by each administration. A new administration might keep some people from the previous one, but most of these political appointees move on to other jobs outside of government. Because of this turnover, work priorities can vary depending on each new administration’s policies and priorities, and the people appointed to the lead departments and agencies. Since political appointees don’t typically stay in their positions for more than a few years, agency priorities can change relatively frequently.