JANUARY 9, 2015 – Despite constant yearly threats of government shutdowns, working for a federal agency has lots of advantages. Once upon a time, interested applicants would have had to first take a Civil Service exam. This is no longer the case. Nevertheless, a career with the Feds has always been rather difficult to obtain for many, but with legions of baby boomers retiring, the path should be much clearer. A career in government can be quite rewarding, so if this is something you are considering, take a look at what you can expect from this type of job:
With so much discussion about health care these days, it is mandatory for government employees to enroll in a health insurance plan with the government picking a percentage of the tab. Life insurance is also available and the retirement benefits can be supplemented by the Thrifts Savings Plan. TSP is the government equivalent of a 401-K plan, but is also matched by the government for those under the FERS program. FERS employees are those hired after 1983. For many, these types of benefits are a huge draw and make a job look more attractive. Even if you don’t stay at the same job throughout your career, having a government job will provide you with some attractive benefits.
Great Work Hours
Long considered to be basic 9-to-5 jobs, most government agencies offer their employees other options such as flex-time, which allows employees to start work any time between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., so long as they fulfill an 8-hour workday. AWS (alternate work schedule) allows employees to work 9-hour days and have one day off during an 80-hour work period or work 10 hours each day, but have one day a week off during the 80-hour work period.
Time Off and Holidays
Unlike many companies where employees must work for a year to earn a week’s vacation, federal workers start off earning 4 hours of annual leave and 4 hours of sick leave per pay period. Eventually, they earn 8 hours of annual leave. Too much accrued annual leave means employees must take time off at the end of the year or lose the hours. Additionally, all federal holidays are recognized as time off.
Salary and Promotions
Compared to many businesses, the federal government pays its employees well. Direct deposits are made every two weeks, and salary rates are determined by the General Schedule pay scale. Applicants are hired at a certain grade which includes steps. Steps are automatic pay increases, sometimes occurring within months.
A career in the government can be a great opportunity with a chance to build a nice nest egg. There are many types of government jobs for people with varying skills and education. Entry level positions for civil service typically require a college degree. Pursuing a degree in social sciences or research will help you land an entry-level job, and you can work your way up from there. However, with a masters in public administration you’ll be able to pursue higher level jobs in a number of government departments. No matter what type of job you pursue, you can expect to have good benefits, flexible work hours and time off, as well as good pay.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, careers, and education. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.