Federal Government Overview

The executive branch is the largest of the three federal government branches and is composed of the Office of the President, the 14 executive departments and over 90 independent agencies, employing 98 percent of all federal workers. While most hiring is centralized through usajobs.gov, some excepted service agencies do not have to post on usajobs.gov their own hiring, so it is best to view these agencies as a separate employers. (http://govcentral.monster.com/benefits/articles/1659-excepted-service-agencies)

Job Search Tips
  • Federal employment is general not as affected by cyclical fluctuations in the economy as other sectors, but political changes can influence staffing levels.
  • After an election is an opportune time to search for positions.  Hiring is also increased at the end of September – the end of the government’s fiscal year.
  • USAJobs.gov is the site for all federal job listings – using keyword, geographic location, pay or occupational series searches and filters can help narrow results.
  • Current and former Federal employees are the best source of information and insider tips – networking is important and a common way that federal employees have initially learned about their job.

Salary Information

  • Salaries vary based on level of experience, education, and complexity of the position.
  • There are 8 pay systems, the most common being the General Schedule (GS).
  • General Schedule has geographic variances. OPM publishes Locality Pay Tables: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2014/general-schedule
  • Jobs are ranked according to level of responsibility and difficulty, and are assigned corresponding “grades.”
  • Average starting salary with a Master’s degree: $54K (GS-9)

Position Title Examples

  • Policy Officer, East Asia & Pacific Region
  • Economist
  • Budget and Policy Advisor
  • Budget Analyst
  • Staff Assistant
  • Congressional Liaison
  • Program Analyst
  • Senior Policy Advisor
  • Management & Program Analyst