What Is a Civil Service Job?

Have you ever thought of becoming a firefighter, a police officer, an air traffic controller, or even a postal worker? Most children have fantasized at one point in their lives about racing down the street in a big, bright red fire truck, or arresting bad guys and fighting crime. These are just a few examples of civil service jobs that are highly sought-after in the private sector. However, they are not particularly easy to get. Besides having to meet physical qualifications, other criteria must be met before landing one of these jobs. So, what is a civil service job, and how do you land one? 

Civil service is a term that is used to describe a sector of the government which is made up of career civil servants who are not appointed or elected, but rather are hired based on their qualifications and professional merit. Some examples are civil service jobs include firefighters, postal workers, air traffic controllers, and police officers. Applicants have to take a timed exam called the civil service exam. The most common civil service exam is called USA Hire. 

Let’s dive deeper into the world of civil service jobs, as well as taking a closer look at what makes up the civil service exam. We will discuss which jobs are the most highly sought-after careers in civil service. I will also include a section discussing the pros and cons of%1 working on a civil service job. 

What Is Civil Service? 

What is a Civil Service Job?

The definition of civil service is “a sector of the government which is made up of career civil servants who are not appointed or elected, but rather they are hired based on their qualifications and professional merit.” Although, to put it simply, civil service jobs are jobs in which you are employed by a government agency at the local, state, or federal level, according to Zippia. So, to review, the private sector consists of employment through private businesses, while the public sector includes government jobs.

Getting a civil service job can be considered to be a great career move for most people. Because of the many different services that the government offers, there is a wide variety of jobs available in the public sector. These jobs typically offer great benefits, paid time off, sick leave, and a good retirement package. Although it can prove to be quite challenging to get a civil service job, once you have landed one of these jobs, you have more than likely found a job that you can turn into a career.

What Are Some Examples of Civil Service Jobs? 

When you think of civil service occupations, the first jobs that probably come to mind or a firefighter, a police officer, a legislator, or a postal worker. There is a good reason for this, as these are just a few of the most common types of jobs found in the public sector. Whatever there are many other civil service jobs of which you may not be aware and are not occupations that you would typically associate with being government or public sector jobs.

What is a Civil Service Job?

One job that may not immediately come to mind when you think of a public sector job is registered, nurse. However, instead of working in private clinics, some nurses shoes to work for government agencies such as Veterans Administration hospitals. Another interesting civil service job is an intelligence analyst, whose job is to gather international information and data. The final job I am going to include in this section may surprise you more than the others. 

Did you know that an elementary school teacher is considered to be a civil service job? They certainly are. While I’m sure that I do not have to explain to you what an elementary school teacher does for a living, I am going to explain why being an elementary school teacher is a civil service job. Simply put, public schools are run on the state level, which by definition makes them public sector jobs. This job consists of teaching general information to children from kindergarten to fifth grade, although teachers can choose to specialize if they prefer.

How can you be a good public servant? Here are six tips!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Civil Service Jobs? 

While they may be somewhat difficult to get, once a person is hired for a civil service job, they are not very likely to leave that job. These jobs have a relatively low turnover rate when compared to other types of employment. Why is this? Some several benefits and advantages that come with having a civil service job. While there are many advantages of having a civil service job, I am going to cover three of the most popular reasons why people choose this type of employment. 

What is a Civil Service Job?

Let’s have a detailed discussion about a few of the advantages to having a civil service job., which include the following:

  • Benefits and Flexibility – Most government occupations will offer highly competitive benefits, and flexibility in the scheduling to help you maintain work/life balance. Vacation time and paid sick leave are included in civil service jobs, as well as a retirement fund, health insurance, and a steady work schedule. 
  • Job Security – Of all of the advantages to having a civil service job, perhaps job security is the most important. In most jobs found in the private sector, you have the fear of possibly losing your job at any time. On the other hand, jobs in the public sector will always be needed. 
  • Location – One of the biggest advantages of working a civil service job is that it can provide you with the opportunity to work practically anywhere you want in the United States, and possibly the world. Because there are jobs at the local, state, and national levels, you have a wide array of locations from which you can choose. 

Although there are a few advantages of having a civil service job that may have you considering a career in the public sector, being employed by the government is not sunshine and roses all the time. As is the case with most jobs, there are a few disadvantages that come with having a civil service job. Just as I did with the advantages, I am going to include the top three disadvantages that are associated with jobs in the public sector. 

What is a Civil Service Job?

While several disadvantages come with most jobs, here are a few that come with the territory of having a civil service job:

  • Potential for Low Income – perhaps the biggest problem with civil service jobs is that they are paid on the General Schedule (GS). This means that your pay will be based on your location and the type of job you do. Though you can be promoted, cost-of-living adjustments and Merit raises are few and far between with civil service jobs.
  • Little To No Control – If you are just starting at a civil service job, you will have practically no say in the day-to-day decisions being made. This is because government jobs are considered to be top-down operations. Patience is key in public sector jobs, as changes will not be made nearly as fast as you would like them to be made.
  • Difficult and Lengthy Hiring Process – One of the most difficult aspects of getting a civil service job is the hiring process involved in securing that job. This is mainly because your application will have to pass through the hands of several people before a decision will be made. Be prepared to go to multiple interviews and remain patient, as you may not hear back from your prospective employer for quite some time.


If you think that getting a job in the public sector will be the right career move for you, you must first take a civil service exam. Next, you will probably have to attend several interviews. They waiting. Is a substantially long waiting to hear about a civil service job. Some of the most common types of civil service jobs include firefighters, police officers, can postal workers. However, other types of civil service jobs include registered nurses, intelligence analysts, and Elementary School teachers.

There are going to be both pros and cons that come with being a government employee. These jobs offer flexibility in scheduling as well as a great benefit, job security, and your choice station where you choose to work. However, there is a trade-off. One of the downfalls of being employed in the public sector is that the income is relatively low when compared to some private-sector jobs. You also have little to no control over the decisions made at your job, and the hiring process can be difficult and lengthy. Still, if you are considering a civil service job, I wish you the best of luck in your career!

Related Questions 

What are the top five highest paying civil service jobs?

Most civil service jobs are not known for having a high pay scale. However, if you are interested in working in the public sector, here is a list of the top five highest paying civil service jobs currently available, as well as their average annual salary:

  • Nurse Anesthetist – $160,000 
  • Astronomy and Space Scientist – $142,000
  • Chief Engineer – $96,000
  • Patent Attorney – $96,000 
  • Program Manager – $93,000

How difficult is the civil service exam?

Despite its reputation for being a tough test, the civil service exam is widely considered to be not that difficult by those who have taken it. The key to scoring high on the civil service exam is through proper planning. The syllabus can seem intimidating, but if you schedule your study sessions properly oh, you should have no problem passing the exam. However, those who fail to properly plan find me civil service exam to be quite difficult.

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs. 

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