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Most politicians serve their country out of a matter of civic pride, not in pursuit of a nice retirement. Despite that, the demands and stresses of cabinet-level executives, secretaries in charge of national departments such as the Department of Defense, Education and Labor, are immense. Although presidential cabinet members don’t receive paychecks as large as those going to corporate board members, they’re still compensated much higher than the general population.
The Office of Personnel Management and Congress set federal pay scales for all positions, including those of the executive cabinet. The secretaries of the 15 federal departments who sit on the executive cabinet as well as five other cabinet-level positions – the White House Chief of staff, Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the U.N. ambassador and the U.S. trade representative – are paid the same salary, that of Executive Level I. As of fiscal year 2010, those cabinet members earn $199,700.
As head of the executive branch and, by proxy, the leader of the United States, the President earns more than his cabinet members. Presidents receive $400,000 annually as well as a $50,000 nontaxable expense account to use. This compensation is dictated by Chapter 3 of the United States Code, and has remained constant since 2000.
Non-Cabinet Executive Positions
Other positions that don’t directly serve on the executive cabinet are also entitled to payment on the federal executive scale. These positions, such as directors of large offices, assistant directors, deputy directors and other high-level executive staff, are paid on Executive Level V through II payment grades, and earn between $145,700 and $179,700 as of fiscal 2010.
Other Federal Positions
The Vice President, Chief Justice and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives all earn the same salary. As of fiscal 2010, they are paid $230,700. Those salaries have increased every year since 1994.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.