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Working in public service/for the government? - Page 3

post #31 of 32
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Originally Posted by Journeyman View Post
I may be wrong but, from previous posts that he has made, I think that Merkur is from Australia and would thus be talking about the situation there.

In general, I agree with what others have said concerning the public service "heirarchy" - city council < state < federal. However, there are possibly exceptions to that - working in the lord mayor's office would probably be better than working for the sanitation department in state government, as a wild example. Similarly, working in a callcentre for the federal government doesn't really win you any kudos.

In terms of the Australian Public Services (APS), the federal government, it's easiest to move up the ladder quickly and to win the better jobs if you are in Canberra. If you're not, you're cutting yourself out of a lot of jobs.

If you get a graduate trainee position (usually advertised around April each year, if my memory serves me correctly), you will start on $40 - 45 000 in most departments/agencies, at the APS3/4 level. By the time the traineeship has finished in 18-24 months, your goal should be to move to an APS5/6 position, which pays from $60 - 70 000 at starting levels for the APS5 and 6 bands, if I remember correctly. These pay levels can also vary to some extent between departments. The ATO, Dept of PM&C and DFaT all pay well, whereas some smaller or less prestigious departments can sometimes pay thousands of dollars less for the same positions (even though you may do more work or have more responsibility than in the more prestigious departments).

The work can be challenging and highly rewarding. The trick, if you want to move on from the public service into the private sector at some stage, is to find a role that is not exclusive to the public service but which will hone your skills and knowledge in an area that is prized outside the public service.

Tax law could be one such area, for example. I know a number of people who have moved from in-house positions in government to external firms and have been employed specifically for the admin law skill-set that they possessed. Auditor would be another such job - doing in-house auditing work for a government department or agency could set you up well for a tilt at an external auditing/consultancy firm and I know people who have successfully done that, too.

The upsides to public service employment are security of tenure, holidays and (usually) superannuation arrangements. At lower levels, the pay is often pretty good for what you do - you can be doing pretty ordinary clerical work in some departments and get $50k after a few years. On the downside, it's pretty hard to move above $100 - 120k per year, as there is a big bottleneck at that level (probably a bit below that, in fact).

It's interesting work, the conditions are comfortable, and you only rarely have to work late at night. However, after an initial burst, salary growth can be quite slow compared to the private sector (although it depends very much upon your area of employment, of course). My salary has tripled over the past 7-8 years (due in part to two promotions), which sounds impressive - but a friend of mine in similar work in private practice has seen his salary increase ten-fold in the same time and he is on track to be semi-retired and to become a part-time consultant by the time he is in his mid-forties, all being well.

It depends, at least in part, on what you want to do with your life and what your aims are, and that is clearly very subjective. For my part, I prize the additional time that I get with my family over any additional money that I could earn. Despite the fact that I am, to some, a parasite sucking from the taxpayer-funded teat, I really do feel that I am giving something back to society and providing a genuine service to the public and that is worth more to me than a larger pay-packet.

Hope that this helps.

Great post. Everything is spot on.
post #32 of 32
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Edited by merkur - 7/31/11 at 7:02am
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