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How to Get a Government Job Without a Degree

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When you're looking for employment, a government job may be what you desire. Government jobs typically come with good benefits and even a pension, which can help you out when you retire. Getting a government job without a college degree can be a challenge, but there are many positions open to you. Keep in mind that there is a lot of competition for government jobs, so you'll need to make yourself stand out in both your resume and your interview.

Look for job openings. Government agencies must post their jobs publicly. Many do so through the official government USAJOBS Web site. You can search for positions through this Web site. You may find less competition, though, if you look for jobs on the Web site for the agency for which you want to work. For example, if you want to work for the county government, you can visit the job postings section on their Web site. GS-1 positions are for those without a high school diploma, GS-2 jobs are for people with a high school diploma, and GS-3 and GS-4 jobs are for people with some college experience but no degree. Look for these codes when searching for jobs.

Pass the civil service exam. Some government positions require you to take an exam that demonstrates that you have the skills necessary to do the job. Your county government's Web site will list exam dates and requirements. When you pass the exam, your name goes on a list of potential candidates for job openings.

Tailor your resume for a federal job. People or computers will scan your resume looking for keywords that pertain to the job. Pay particular attention to the job description and use some of those same words in your resume. For example, if the job requires familiarity with Microsoft Excel, list Microsoft Excel as a skill. Structure your resume to highlight your work experience rather than your education, as you may be competing with candidates who do have a college degree.

Focus on your accomplishments at the interview. The interview for a government job may be a panel-style interview with many people taking turns asking you questions. Without a college degree, you must highlight how your experience in the workforce will help you to complete the tasks required.


Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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