The federal workforce accounts for over 2% of all jobs in America. They employ 2.1 million workers and offer far more opportunities than any other employer. Where else can you find jobs nationwide and overseas in most major occupations? The answer is you can’t!
So many opportunities, yet too few seek them out or simply run into them by chance. It isn’t unusual today for agencies to offer sign-on bonuses to attract bidders for critical vacancies.
The numbers aren’t limited to those currently working. They include exceptional benefits that private sector employees only dream about such as one of the best retirement systems available.
How would you like to retire with a large cost of living adjusted annuity, Social Security, a comprehensive Thrift Savings Plan and carry your health care insurance into retirement? Sounds too good to be true, yet it is exactly what is available to the entire federal workforce.
All employees receive 11 paid holidays, 13 days of vacation for the first three years of service, 20 days of vacation with three to 15 years of service, and 26 days after 15 years. Thirteen sick days are accrued each year regardless of length of service and employees can carry over unused sick leave year to year. Unlike most private sector employers, Uncle Sam also allows employees to carry over six weeks of vacation time, 240 hours.
I had 2,100 hours of sick leave, just over one year, accrued when I retired; I converted this to another year of service for my annuity computation. Plus, I cashed in 448 hours of annual leave (vacation time) that I had on the books – three month’s salary.
Active-duty military time is creditable for certain benefits. For example, if you have three years of active-duty military service, you will start with four weeks of vacation. Military service time may also add to your federal retirement annuity.
RETIREMENT BY THE NUMBERS
The Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) is comprised of a Cost of Living Adjusted (COLA) fixed annuity based on years of service, a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and Social Security.
The FERS retirement annuity is based on your length of service and “high-3” average pay. The retiree receives 1% of their average high three-year salary for each year of service. With 30 years of service, you would receive 30% of your high three average salary for life. If you wait to retire at age 62, the factor increases to 1.1% of your average three-year salary.
The TSP is an employee contribution system fashioned after a 401k defined contribution plan. If you contribute a minimum of 5 percent of your salary, Uncle Sam matches it; contributions are tax deferred. The maximum contribution allowed for 2022 is $20,500 plus an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500 for those age 50 and over. There are many withdrawal options, including lump sum and various fixed term annuities. The TSP plan contribution payout is in addition to your federal retirement annuity and Social Security benefits that you will be eligible for at retirement.
Social Security is the third leg of this retirement system. FERS employees who retire after their Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) with 30 years of service will receive a Special Retirement Supplement which is paid as an annuity until you reach age 62 and become eligible for Social Security.
Federal OCCUPATIONS & JOBS
The federal government employs workers in every major occupational group – including the trades. Last year, they hired 176,842 new employees, and their average annual salary exceeds $90,000. The analytical and technical nature of many government duties requires a higher proportion of professional, management, business, and financial occupations compared with most private sector industries.
Conversely, small numbers work in transportation, production, construction, sales, farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. However, they employ almost all air traffic controllers and a significant number of agricultural inspectors and bridge and lock tenders.
Entry level to professional vacancy announcements are available online at USAJOBS.GOV. You will find thousands of vacancies to search by occupation and location. Printout and thoroughly read announcements of interest to ensure you meet the basic qualifications for the position. If you have questions about the vacancy, contact the human resource specialist listed at the end of the document. They typically provide an email address or phone number.
Keep Pushing for a Federal Job – It’s Worth It
Ae significant numbers of positions are available, and many agencies are hiring. The benefits, pay, and job security is exceptional by any standard. However, it takes initiative on your part to apply and complete a comprehensive application package. Don’t be alarmed by the paperwork and follow the guidance outlined in the job announcement. Civil service entrance exams are no longer required for most occupations.
Those who succeed don’t give up on their first try and refine their application package for subsequent submissions.