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Working in public service/for the government?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

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Edited by merkur - 7/31/11 at 6:56am
post #2 of 32
The amount of respect public sector workers get from private sector employers totally depends on what type of job they're doing. Some jobs will not be very interesting to the private sector while others, such as procurement professionals from the DOD, are incredibly in demand from some segments of private industry. It really depends on what the job is. Also important to note is that the public sector certainly has tiers of prestige as well. The federal public service is generally more well regarded than the state or municipal service by private sector employers from what I've experienced.
post #3 of 32
I work in the (norwegian) public sector as an attorney. I have not worked here for a very long period, but so far the work has been above all expectations. I get access to a lot of courses/classes relevant for my field, I get to travel quite a bit, I have very good terms when it comes to vacation, hours per week etc.

I recommend it
post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucifer View Post
I work in the (norwegian) public sector as an attorney. I have not worked here for a very long period, but so far the work has been above all expectations. I get access to a lot of courses/classes relevant for my field, I get to travel quite a bit, I have very good terms when it comes to vacation, hours per week etc.

I recommend it

Most public sector jobs are amazing from a benefit standpoint. No question there. In two weeks of public sector employment I took four separate vacations, three of which lasted between 3 weeks and a month.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucifer View Post
I work in the (norwegian) public sector as an attorney. I have not worked here for a very long period, but so far the work has been above all expectations. I get access to a lot of courses/classes relevant for my field, I get to travel quite a bit, I have very good terms when it comes to vacation, hours per week etc.

I recommend it

Don't think this comparison is fair. For example, if you work in Singapore's public sector, then you're top dog (and you get paid like the best in private sector as well), public servant are well respected in Singapore because it is efficient and it delivers. Europe is all over the shop, you got rubbish (hum, italy...? ) to great (nordics).

Working for government in the US is again all over the shop as well. I would agree Federal job > State job > Municipal job in general. Unless the municipal you're talking about is like NYC/LA/Chicago I guess. It also depends on what you do exactly though.

For the record never worked with government guys except when I was in phd program and getting funding from DARPA, those guys were definitely respectable.
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Don't think this comparison is fair. For example, if you work in Singapore's public sector, then you're top dog (and you get paid like the best in private sector as well), public servant are well respected in Singapore because it is efficient and it delivers. Europe is all over the shop, you got rubbish (hum, italy...? ) to great (nordics).

Working for government in the US is again all over the shop as well. I would agree Federal job > State job > Municipal job in general. Unless the municipal you're talking about is like NYC/LA/Chicago I guess. It also depends on what you do exactly though.

For the record never worked with government guys except when I was in phd program and getting funding from DARPA, those guys were definitely respectable.

The public sector in North America is huge and the overall prestige of different agencies/departments/levels of government varies wildly. It isn't nearly as prestigious as the PS in places like Singapore or Japan where the PS is the job all the top graduates wants. I would compare the federal, core public service in North America to a Fortune 500 company in terms of pay (at the entry level, at least), opportunity, and prestige in most cases.
post #7 of 32
As everyone says, it really depends. There are clearly areas where public service translates into private sector dollars (through experience, prestige, revolving door, etc.), and other areas where you will be seen as a do-nothing bureaucrat. Generally, government service pays well at the low/medium end and pays poorly at the high end. If you are a senior level person (GS15 or SES) in the US Federal gov't, you are doing it out of love, not money. My advice is: go mission first. If you love the work you'll be doing, and feel that you are creating huge value for the taxpayer $, go for it. If you see government service as a stepping stone for career advancement first, there are probably better ways of going about it (unless your career involves lobbying or public relations).
post #8 of 32
Gov jobs are the best
With layoffs happening at all levels in the private sector, why would you want to go there.

Pros of gov jobs: security, stability, and good pay at higher levels.

Cons: Your laid off private sector friends are jealous of you and make jokes about the evil gubmint.

I don't know what exact gov job you are looking at, and whether its local, state or federal.

You can check out this site:
http://www.governmentcrossing.com/


Its got jobs from all three levels.
post #9 of 32
My company contracts a lot of government work. From what I can tell people with government jobs hire contractors to do what the government hired them to do. But the people with the government jobs get the government benefits, retirement, etc.

To answer your question, no, government employees are not very highly regarded. And it's not "public service" when you are getting paid more than your competent private sector counterparts, when there is, in fact, a counterpart. It is quite the opposite.

Oh, by the way, government employees don't pay taxes, they receive taxes.
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazerd View Post
good pay at higher levels.

post #11 of 32
oh, wait, do you actually want real advice now? ..
post #12 of 32
I work in government, but it's hard to give you any real advice based upon the information in the OP. I'd be happy to give input if you have specific questions, either here or via PM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazerd View Post
Gov jobs are the best With layoffs happening at all levels in the private sector, why would you want to go there. Pros of gov jobs: security, stability, and good pay at higher levels. Cons: Your laid off private sector friends are jealous of you and make jokes about the evil gubmint. I don't know what exact gov job you are looking at, and whether its local, state or federal. You can check out this site: http://www.governmentcrossing.com/ Its got jobs from all three levels.
Layoffs are happening in the public sector, as well. The federal level is probably almost immune to it, but not the state and local levels. You have to keep in mind that government tends to lag the private sector in both recession and recovery. This means that we'll be seeing layoffs in government even as the private sector shows signs of recovery. I do agree that it's more stable in government, but the notion that government workers are immune to downsizing is a bit outdated.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberty Ship View Post
My company contracts a lot of government work. From what I can tell people with government jobs hire contractors to do what the government hired them to do. But the people with the government jobs get the government benefits, retirement, etc. To answer your question, no, government employees are not very highly regarded. And it's not "public service" when you are getting paid more than your competent private sector counterparts, when there is, in fact, a counterpart. It is quite the opposite. Oh, by the way, government employees don't pay taxes, they receive taxes.
Speaking on behalf of government employees everywhere, I would like to formally thank you for perpetuating a bunch of BS stereotypes about the sector.
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post


Speaking on behalf of government employees everywhere, I would like to formally thank you for perpetuating a bunch of BS stereotypes about the sector.
+1.

MrG is right about layoffs. Even big states with robust public sectors are laying off workers. But the fact remains that civil service positions are by and large very secure. Once you're in, you're in, especially in states where there are public sector unions. Unless you're in a political job (read: slavery ), the hours are great. For example, my friend works for the NYS Dept. of Health and is there 8:30 to 4:30 every day, without fail. Regular hours like that really give you freedom in planning your "extracurricular" activities.

The bennies are fantastic. I don't make a lot of money but my health insurance plan is incredible, and I have free dental and vision. People aren't joking when they call gov't benefits "gold-plated" (this is particularly true at the state and local level).

And, of course, there's the time off. I just took a three day weekend, and next weekend will be a four-day. Already have a week off in July and I'll probably take another week in August. Can't beat that with a stick.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liberty Ship View Post
My company contracts a lot of government work. From what I can tell people with government jobs hire contractors to do what the government hired them to do. But the people with the government jobs get the government benefits, retirement, etc.
.

Actually not far from the truth. This is called outsourcing.
I sometimes wonder why the private sector is paid big bucks to do things for the public sector, which the private sector can't even do properly.
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Don't think this comparison is fair. For example, if you work in Singapore's public sector, then you're top dog (and you get paid like the best in private sector as well), public servant are well respected in Singapore because it is efficient and it delivers. Europe is all over the shop, you got rubbish (hum, italy...? ) to great (nordics).

Er, not true. In Singapore, only the top in the public sector is top dog with pay commensurate with the private sector. In the long run, its better than say a top surgeon, who may have very good years average with poor years. For the top dog civil servant, they get a more or less consistent pay not subject to the vagaries of lack of clients, non-paying clients, market fluctuations etc.

As for the rank and file, I think they are paid the same as their peers in most countries. ie. underpaid compared to the private sector.
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