If you’re wondering where to find government jobs, your opportunities are best with just a few agencies, and within just a few specific career tracks. The federal civilian workforce increased from 1.88 million in 2004, to 2.13 million in 2012, with 94 percent of the growth occurring in the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

That’s according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which said that the workforce changes at DoD are due to conversion of certain positions from military to civilian, as well as the growth of the agency’s acquisition and cybersecurity workforce.

At the VA, the increased demand for medical and health-related services for military veterans drove most of the growth in personnel levels. DHS said the increase in employment was due in large part to the nation’s border security requirements.

Most of the types of jobs that saw increases required a higher skill and education level, such as professional occupations like doctors and scientists and administrative positions like program managers. Blue collar occupations like clerical and technical occupations remained stable, the report said.

The report also found that the federal government faces a wave of retirement, with more than a third of federal employees eligible to collect retirement benefits by September 2017, compared to just 14 percent in 2012. This mass retirement could produce a “mission critical skills gaps” if the federal government doesn’t address the situation.

In 2013, the Office of Personnel Management proposed a “phased retirement” program that allow federal employees to ease into retirement by working part time while receiving partial pensions. These workers would need to spend at least 20 percent of their part-time employment mentoring new workers.

“Strategic human capital planning that is integrated with broader organizational strategic planning will be essential for ensuring that — going forward– agenices have the talent, skill, and experience mix they need to cost-effectively execute their mission and program goals,” the report stated.

Government compensation for full-time equivalent (FTE) positions grew at an average rate of 1.2 percent per year, beginning at $106,097 in 2004 and ending at $116,828 in 2012. The report said most of this growth is due to increasing costs of personnel benefits, at a rate of 1.9 percent per year.

“In terms of employee pay per FTE, spending rose at an average annual rate of 1 percent per year (a 7.9 percent increase overall),” the report said. “However, as a proportion of government-wide federal discretionary spending, spending on compensation remained constant from 2004 to 2010 (at 14 percent), with slight increases in 2011 and 2012.”

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO, AllBusiness.com, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine, ClearanceJobs.com, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.

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