CXO

Does the federal government pay IT workers better than the private sector?

In many cases working for the government pays off in better salaries. But with IT, it depends on your specialty.

On average, federal employees earn more than their counterparts in the private sector. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, federal workers earned an average salary of $67,691 in 2008 for occupations that exist both in government and the private sector. The average pay for the same mix of jobs in the private sector was $60,046 in 2008.

This is not always the case across the IT field, however. According to the report, a "computer, information systems manager" would make $122,020 a year when working for the federal government, compared to $115,705 in the private sector; a difference of $6,315. But computer support specialists would make on average $45,830 per year for the federal government but $54,875 in the private sector (a difference of -$9,045).

Other key findings, according to USAToday:

  • Federal. The federal pay premium cut across all job categories - white-collar, blue-collar, management, professional, technical and low-skill. In all, 180 jobs paid better average salaries in the federal government; 36 paid better in the private sector.
  • Private. The private sector paid more on average in a select group of high-skill occupations, including lawyers, veterinarians and airline pilots. The government's 5,200 computer research scientists made an average of $95,190, about $10,000 less than the average in the corporate world.
  • State and local. State government employees had an average salary of $47,231 in 2008, about 5% less than comparable jobs in the private sector. City and county workers earned an average of $43,589, about 2% more than private workers in similar jobs. State and local workers have higher total compensation than private workers when the value of benefits is included.

Next time, I'll cover some specifics of the government system pay scale, which is as layered and complicated as the concept of cold fusion. Stay tuned!

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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