What Is Federal Civilian Employment?

By Nicole Vulcan; Updated July 05, 2017
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Federal government jobs include those in the military and Congress -- but those are far from the only positions available. The U.S. government is the largest employer in the United States, employing hundreds of thousands of "civilian," or non-military, personnel, as well as hundreds of thousands of defense personnel. As of 2013, more than 1,831,700 people were working for the federal government, and a total of 4,318,950 people were earning paychecks or annuities from past employment.

Job Classifications and Hiring

The jobs available within the federal civilian workforce run the gamut. They include low-skill jobs such as office cleaning and grounds maintenance, as well as highly skilled jobs in aeronautics and science. Like jobs in the military, federal civilian employees are classed into "General Schedule" pay grades that indicate how much employees earn and their overall status. If you're not already working for the government, you'll generally be qualified only for "Competitive Service" jobs that are open to all qualified applicants. "Excepted Service" or "Senior Executive Service" jobs are typically open by appointment only, and only to current civil servants. Some jobs, such as those in the FBI or CIA, also require a security clearance and extensive background checks. If you're looking for a federal job, check out the listings at USAJobs.com, and read the instructions and requirements for each job carefully. The federal government often has extensive requirements for hiring, including providing detailed school transcripts and a more detailed resume or CV.


About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.