The Federal Government employs just over 4 million people throughout the US according to the Office of Personnel Management’s most recent data reported in August of 2015. (About a million people fewer than in 1969 when the military was double it’s current size). The executive branch employs 2,663,000 civilians; there are 1,459,000 uniformed military personnel; and the legislative and judicial branch personnel number 63,000 - for a grand total 4,185,000 Federal personnel when the last count was taken.
Federal retirements are going to hit hard soon. What is important to understand for individuals planning their career, seeking an internship, or with some significant experience on their resume, is that a huge number of people will soon retire from the federal government … with excellent pensions. To put things into perspective, in 2000, about 94,000 people age 60 or older worked for the federal government. In 2012, 262,000, 14% of federal employees were eligible to retire. The number of people eligible to retire is expected to hit about 600,000 (31%) by 2017.
Certain agencies will be hit harder than others. “Although employment levels have grown, large numbers of retirement-eligible employees may be cause for concern among agencies, decision-makers, and other stakeholders, because they could produce mission critical skills gaps if turnover is not strategically managed and monitored,” according to a January 2014 report of the General Accounting Office.
Not all places in the federal government are desirable places to work. That is true of every industry. So be careful to research your options for employment in the federal government. The Partnership for Public Service releases a report of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. “The 2015 rankings include the views of more than 433,300 civil servants from 391 federal organizations on a wide range of workplace topics. Since the first rankings were released in 2003, they have provided a mechanism to hold agency leaders accountable for the health of their organizations; serve as an early warning sign for agencies in trouble; and offer a roadmap for improvement.”
If you are a recent grad or experienced professional you can search federal jobs at USAJobs.Gov. Just type in job title, salary requirements, and preferred location or search more broadly by keeping it simple.
If you are a seeking a student internship or a are a recent grad you can now explore opportunities for some of the most interesting careers in some of the most important areas of federal government employment through something called The Pathways Program.
The Pathways Programs offer clear paths to Federal internships for students from high school through post-graduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their Federal service. As a student or recent graduate, you can begin your career in the Federal government by choosing the path that best describes you and where you are in your academics:
Internship Program: This program is for current students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions from high school to graduate level, with paid opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school. Additional information about the Internship Program.
Recent Graduates Program: This program is for individuals who have recently graduated from qualifying educational institutions or programs and seek a dynamic, career development program with training and mentorship. To be eligible, applicants must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans precluded from doing so due to their military service obligation, who will have up to six years to apply). Additional information about the Recent Graduates Program.
Presidential Management Fellows Program: For more than three decades, the PMF Program has been the Federal government’s premier leadership development program for advanced degree candidates. This program is now for individuals who have received a qualifying advanced degree within the preceding two years. For complete program information, visit: www.pmf.gov.
Recent Graduate Jobs
The process is slow and it takes time to apply and then get hired for government jobs but it is well worth the effort. If you are serious about any government jobs - federal, state or local - you will need to watch the listings daily for at least 6 months and give very thorough answers on your applications. And don’t get discouraged! Keep applying for anything and everything you qualify for. You will be glad you did… in the long run and for the most part government jobs are interesting and the retirement benefits are great!