One of the best aspects of a government career is the diversity of opportunities. There are government jobs across the country (and the world) at the local, state and federal level. Federal government jobs are labeled excepted service, competitive service, and senior executive service. What do these terms mean?

The vast majority of government jobs are with the competitive service, but a number of national security positions are excepted service positions. Competitive service positions mean the position must go through a competitive hiring process that is open to all applicants. The position may still have cleared requirements, from education to experience, but the position will be filled through a competitive assessment of all applicants.

Excepted service positions include positions within the intelligence community, federal law enforcement agencies, courts, foreign service, and legal, finance and international aid agencies.  It’s important to know that while most government jobs are posted to USAJobs, excepted service national security positions generally aren’t. That means the hidden job market is still alive and well, and national security positions may be found in unlikely places. Excepted service agencies are hiring for positions from attorney to financial analyst, foreign service officer and engineer – and you won’t find all of their positions listed at USAJobs.

When it comes to government career paths, Uncle Sam is hiring in just about every industry, from cybersecurity to plumbing. If you’re interested in putting your security clearance to work in a government career, you have nearly unlimited paths to choose from. Just as there are many federal government career paths, there are many paths to a federal government job. If working for the intelligence community, defense agencies or other government agencies is of interest, do your homework. Research the agency through their official website and other online information, and work your network to see if you know anyone who already works there.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.