"When I say I work at the Library of Congress, people's eyes light up," says Richard Barnes, CPS secretary to the director of information technology services at the US Library of Congress. Working in Washington, DC, for one of the most prestigious libraries in the world, Barnes enjoyes a perk extended only to employees -- permission to check out most of the millions of books stored in the library.
While you might think they'd be floundering in red tape, admins who work for the government rave about their interesting jobs. Plus, their salaries, benefits and job security equal or outpace those of corporate posts.
Since government salaries are set by Congress, state legislatures and local governing bodies, raises are guaranteed by law. Legislated cost-of-living adjustments ensure that Barnes's salary match the salaries of private-sector jobs in DC.
"In Southern California, government jobs offer higher pay and benefit packages (than private-sector jobs do)," says Amy Aldana, CPS/CAP, assistant for the Riverside County Clerk's Board of Supervisors. "There's also a wider variety of departments and jobs to transfre to and from, which can create an interesting employment history."
While Nordine Gardiner initially took a pay cut when she moved from the private to the public sector, now -- as judicial assistant to the US District Court Judge David K. Winder in Salt Lake City -- she makes more money than she would have if she had stayed put. An additonal payoff is the gratification that comes with doing something good for one's community, she says.
One of the biggest reasons why admins enjoy government work is the generous vacation package. In your first year in a corporate job, you may only get a week off, but federal employees receive two-and-a-half weeks in their first year of employment, four weeks by their third year and five weeks -- or 26 business days -- in their 15th employment year, says Katherine Astleford, CPS/CAP, a program assistant for the US Army Corps of Engineers who has worked for the federal government for 29 years.
Even better, these vacation days are in addition to 10 federal holidays and sick leave, which is accumulated at a rate of 13 days per year and never expires.
Government employees are prohibited from becoming or supporting candidates for political office, Gardiner says. Employers also may provide fewer social activities, and -- with set salaries -- there's no year-end bonus or profit-sharing opportunities.
You may also find that your boss changes ever few years as assignments are rotated, especially if you work for the military, according to Astleford.
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