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Getting a job in the civil services can be a great career for the rest of your life. Civil service employees work under the state, local, and federal government in order to provide a service to the nation’s citizens, for example as a Postal Worker, Air Traffic Controller, Police Officer, legislator, and other more specialized careers. Because of the vast amount of services the government provides, you can find a career path fit your skill set that you will enjoy far into retirement.

Types of professions

There are literally thousands of different jobs in the civil service, each requiring a different skillset and different mentality in order to do effectively. The type of work you want to do is up to you, it is all about your career goals and skill set you want to obtain through a traditional or vocational college, job training program, or apprenticeship. Be prepared to obtain some sort of schooling for most positions as a government worker. Some jobs will also require a drug test, background check, exam, or letters of recommendation.

In order to truly find out what qualifications you need to get hired onto a specific job, you will want to look at current job requirements for the position. There are a number of places to do this, including USAJobs.gov, Indeed.com, local and state government websites, and other job searching sites. Start your search by looking up broad search terms and then narrow it down by your professional interests. After you’ve found a job that interests you, develop a plan to get the credentials and education you need to get that job. If you already have the requirements, apply!

Civil service exam

Some jobs require that you are able to pass the civil service exam. This timed exam is meant to screen applicants to identify the candidates who would be good in a governmental position. The main test applicants will take is called USA Hire, which assesses your ability to perform basic mathematical formulas, effectively judge and respond to certain scenarios, work preferences and coworker interaction habits, reasoning skills, and reading comprehension. Depending on the position, you may also have to take a job knowledge test, writing assessment, and work simulation.

The test is scored holistically, best qualified, highly qualified, qualified, and unqualified, and it is good to prepare for the test before taking it. Check USAHire.opm.gov for sample assessment questions and summaries for the sections of the test. Some of the professions that require the civil service exam include, police officers, air traffic controllers, and postal service workers. Other government positions may require a different test as well, so be sure you know the requirements before applying.

Job training and reimbursement

One of the nice things about working for the government is that some education will require you to go through some sort of job training program. This is nice, because it allows you to continue your training and education while you work. Plus, they may also pay for your education and training off the job to help you advance your career. Tuition reimbursement may also be an option depending on the public service industry you go into if you have student loans.


·        Flexibility and benefits

Most government positions will offer a great deal of flexibility and benefits to help manage your work/life balance. Vacation and sick leave is almost always included. The amounts depend on the amount of years you are employed, but typically begin at 13 days a year for vacation and 13 days a year for paid sick leave.

Also, you will be entered into a retirement fund and most government positions will pay and/or match your contribution. Working for the government will provide a good health care plan, including dental and vision, as well, so that you and your family are well taken care of.

Another nice thing is that you will have a steady working hours, usually from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, 8 hours a day with weekends off. Paid federal holidays are also typical in government positions, which means time at home with your friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Most government positions will offer a great deal of flexibility and benefits to help manage your work/life balance.

·        Job security

Job security is also high in the government. Stability is a huge benefit, especially if you are coming from the private sector where you can lose your job at any time. The public sector, however, will also be needed and new employees will always be hired to fill positions when people retire.

·        Location

Lastly, working in the public sector allows you to work almost anywhere in the nation, and sometimes even the world. Because the government works at the local, state, and national level, you can find a job in your hometown or anywhere you want to live.


·        Low earning potential

Government employees are paid on the General Schedule (GS) pay scale. The GS level depends on the job you are applying to, but also the locality in which you will work. The amount of pay will depend on the skill required for the job and the cost of living where the job is located.

Though you will be given opportunities for promotion and pay increases, government positions can often be low paying and hard to improve upon depending on where and what field you’re in. Cost of living adjustments and merit raises can be minimal, and your capped earning potential will generally be much less than the same job in the private sector.

·        Little control at work

The government works from the top-down, which means you may not have much say in the decisions that are made, especially when starting out. You also may not be able to make a change as fast as you would like to, so be ready to have patience. Change and control takes time, and knowing this before going into the public sector will help you stay content in your position.

·        Hiring process can be lengthy

When you are first applying to a government position, the application and hiring process can be lengthy. There are specific deadlines and time requirements that the civil service positions have to follow, and your application and qualifications have to be run through a number of people and/or computer systems before you even get an interview. Plus, you might even have to go to multiple interviews and expect to wait a considerable amount of time before you hear back from your potential employer.