7 Perks of Getting a Federal Job

Many joke that the only certainty in life is death and taxes, and there’s some truth to that saying. The true certainty of life is change, and in the peril and beauty of change, most people just want to be happy, support their families and make an honest living.

Working for the government, as it turns out, has several great perks to make those desires happen. In the U.S., the federal government employs more than a quarter of a million people, and most of those people find a job through the government’s main hiring portal, USA Jobs. What’s all the interest about, and what does a federal job have to offer that a civilian job can’t?

1. Higher Job Security

With nearly one-third of the U.S. population employed as contractors or freelancers, job security is a popular perk, but often feels like finding a needle in a job-search haystack. Federal employees are often easier to transfer between departments when necessary.

When compared to civilian jobs, federal public employees are more likely to keep their jobs. Private employees are nearly three times more likely to get let go than public employees. Due to federal laws and formal dismissal procedures, the process of firing a government employee who engages in misconduct is more difficult. A probationary period is more often enforced for federal employees.

2. More Money

Federal employees are more likely to receive compensation increases with a higher-paying, competitive salary than a private sector employee. In fact, federal employees earn 78 percent more than private employees, who receive $56,350 on average less than those who work a government job. This figure also accounts for benefits received by federal employees.

As of the 1990s, federal employees have maintained a quicker compensation growth over private sector employees. Federal government workers also earn more than local government employees, at 43 percent.

3. More Chances to Get Away

Local government, state and federal employees are given almost 1.5 more years of paid holidays and vacation time than private employees. While local and state government employees receive 9.9 more paid holidays and vacations than private employees, federal government employees receive 13.

These opportunities to get away allow for employees to receive proper compensation for their hard work and recharge. The federal government also typically gives more personal days and sick days.

4. Wider Range of Health Benefits

Of American employers, the Federal Healthcare Benefits Program (FHBP) offers the widest range of plans for health care compared to private sector employer plans. Federal employees may choose high-deductible or consumer-driven plans, which provide catastrophic risk protection with high deductibles, reimbursable/health savings accounts, Preferred Provide Organization (PPO), Fee for Service (FFS) plans  or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO).

Many private sector health care plans provide generous benefits, but when it comes to the long term, the federal government tends to offer better benefits for its retirees.

5. Better Long-Term Care Perks

Federal employees have the opportunity typically to retire at an earlier age than private sector employees, with access to retirement plans through the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Services Retirement System (CSRS). For both options, retired employees are granted typical Social Security benefits, but also with an annuity. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) also has an opportunity for federal retirees to participate in an investment option similar to 401(k) options.

6. Student Loan Repayment Incentives

With rates of student loan debt increasing, job searchers should consider the generous student loan repayment incentives the government offers. As of 2008, the federal government has generously paid back more than $452.8 million through incentives to existing employees and new hires. Though student loans are forgiven through these incentives, federal agencies make up to a maximum of $10,000 in payments within a calendar year for the employee, but not more than $60,000 for any employee.

Federal employees sign a service agreement that states they must work for the federal government agency for at least three years. If the employee is dismissed for poor performance or leaves voluntarily, funds must be paid back.

7. You Don’t Have to Sit Behind a Desk in D.C.

Federal jobs aren’t just for those who love statistics and sitting behind desks. Federal jobs are suited for those with varied interests, from zoology to art history, and with more than 50,000 jobs abroad, travel options abound. Nearly 84 percent of federal employee jobs are located outside of Washington, D.C.

If you have a passion for the environment and mad math skills, use your numerical gifts working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example. A federal job is far from boring, and it gives you the opportunity to work in various places and develop a wide set of skills, growing your career.

With great benefits, higher job security and opportunities to get away and travel, there are many perks of getting a federal job. You don’t have to sit behind a desk and toil away at a job in middle management with nowhere to go. Explore your varied interests at home or abroad in a federal position, while cutting into that student loan debt.

When making your next career move, it’s wise to consider a federal job, where you can make an honest living and make a difference, too.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she's a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. You can find her tweeting on her coffee breaks @SarahLandrum

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