IT Employment

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Private Sector vs Government Service

By NetSec ·
Why is there such a wide gap between skill level and pay between private sector and government sector jobs? Especially when performing what is essentially the same job.

What are the benefits to workin in the Private Sector? The Government Sector? What are the drawbacks?

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I have worked in both

by JamesRL In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

Government sector jobs typically provide more security/stability, better pensions and often more training than private companies. Private companies typically experience more $$ and often more opportunities for advancement.


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Define the gap - Who does it favor?

by maxwell edison In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

In your experience, does the "wide gap" favor the private or government sector? And what is your source for your confirming your conclusion?

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Defining the gap

by NetSec In reply to Define the gap - Who does ...

In terms of Base pay, it favor is in the private sector. In terms of Job security, retirement the favor is with the government sector. But even in the government sector there is wide discrpancy in the pay rates for persons doing the same job.

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I have worked in both!

by Black Panther In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

Currently in Government.

The main differences I have found ( apart from the beaurocratic red tape to get anything done in Government )


The Government has pre-defined pay levels for each Job. As a General Rule ( although I am lucky and got in without one ) you need an IT degree to get into the Government.

I have not found any difference in skill level though as you suggest - this always depends on the individual.

As for pay some private companies pay the minimum, some average and some well above average where as in the Government you are bound by the pay level and usually rely on CPI for the yearly payrise ( with no bonus system etc )

The benefits of working in the private sector are you don't have to deal with the "red tape".

The downside is they usually pay you for 38 to 40 hour week but "expect" you to work 50 or more hours without the extra pay.

In the Government you are required to work 36 - 38 hour week and if you work any extra hours they are accumulated and you can then take time off ie flexi-time or ATL.

I have found that the Government pays quite well compared to some of the "private" jobs where I was doing a similar role, also you have more job security ( as long as you are a permanent public servant ) not working on a contract for the Government.

If you are a "go-getter" type of person you may be more suited to a "private sector" position where there may be more room for promotion and there is more chance of changes being made more quickly in the organisation without barriers.

Not all people can relate to the Governments beaurocracy and it can take some time to get used to after a "private" role.

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Government employee of 14 years.

by NetSec In reply to I have worked in both!

I've worked in both sectors, but doing vastly different jobs - in the private sector I was an administrative assistant. For government I started as a computer Operator and have progressed to Network Administrator. In both, I have been at the low end of the pay scale. In the private sector it didn't bother me to much. But while working for the government it has been a constant source of irritation to see people who have less knowledge and experience than I do get put into positions which they have neither the knowledge nor skill sets to fulfill. The salaries they receive are ridiculous. I have had to struggle to get the pay I currently receive, which is still extremely low compared to some of my co-workers who do the same thing, but have fewer skills.

One of my Co-workers has a title that she does not have the credentials to have, but because she has the job title, she makes $30K/year more than I do. That is one of the things I find most frustrating about the government - around here it's not what you know and how well you know it, it's WHO you know and how well you know them.

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by iMpulse In reply to Government employee of 14 ...

Agreed. I notice this alot around the office here too (gov't).
You would think it is almost counter-productive to higher on a senoirity basis (for new or open positions) then on revelant education / skill sets.
I'd have to say I am happy with my salarie, and am not looking for a raise, then I am more of a "fitting" position. I've spend alot of money training on Domain Controllers, security ect. Why am I here answering phones?

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very sad but very true

by Black Panther In reply to Government employee of 14 ...

I definately agree!

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Government work secure, but stifling.

by WillfromSF In reply to Government employee of 14 ...

I worked in a local government IT department for 17 years. Yes, it was secure and the benefits were very good, although training was sporadic and there were few perks. But there was virtually no chance of advancement. One reason is because the jobs don't turn over as much (a good sign, I suppose), but more it's just a very arbitrary system with zero incentive to do your best or even well. People who just show up may be treated as well or better than those who work their butts off. Things are very rigid. Example: when we went to Oracle systems (primarily a political decision), the bosses hired a lot of people with Oracle backgrounds, gave them pumped-up titles and paid them 20% more than myself and others at the same level who had worked there 10-20 years. I ended up leading, by default, all the projects that I worked on with the Oracle newbies, because I knew the needs, the systems, the functional requirements, and had the leadership and communication skills that the newbies didn't. So after some time of this inequity, I went to the boss and pointed out the situation and asked to be given the Oracleites' title and salary. The response? Stop leading, stop taking initiative, i.e. let the projects flounder. Unfortunately, that is how government tends to work... or not work.

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Government 26 years.

by TonytheTiger In reply to I have worked in both!

I agree with your assessment (especially the last observation!), as I have numerous colleagues in both business and government and we talk of these things often.

I would add that Government seems to be a step or so behind private businesses most of the time (which makes some sense... let the private companies test all these new fangled gadgets before we sink a lot of someone else's money into it). They are also more resistant to change than private enterprise.

There are fewer kudos in government work too. Rarely is there an employer provided incentive to do "an extra special good job" (you're going to be paid the same as the barely adequate fellow in the same job class) so you must rely more on your personal work ethic.

Lastly, most Government IT personnel have as their main job putting out fires. So if you work smart and manage to prevent the fires from even starting, you might have time to catch up on the massive amount of documentation that you are required to do (it takes me 20 seconds to give someone a new toner from the cabinet, but 10 minutes to update the inventory and document the time I spent on the 'job' :)

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by angry_white_male In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

Often in the public sector, budgets are tighter. But you get great benefits and better than average job security. For me - the only thing that comes out of my paycheck are withholding taxes. The agency I work for provides full health / dental / vision for my family, life insurance (3X base salary), and contributes 100% towards my pension (no 401k here). No union here in the admin ranks and no civil service requirements - so most new hires in our admin ranks come from political connections as was I - but at least I am actually qualified for my job unlike others I see here. But I have a nice office - walls, door and a full floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall window... so it's not too bad here.

When I worked for Xerox I had a great salary that IMHO was probably on the high side... and even once they took out for benefits and 401k, I was still very happy on payday. Lived in a cube farm with the rest of the cube dwellers - little privacy. However I was laid off after 4 years when the company stock hit an all-time low and from what I hear the perks and fringe benefits over there are pretty much gone.

A public sector school district job I had in the late 90's was OK... pay was low... benefits were average and we had the additional joy of being in a union that sucked dues from us but gave very little in return. The IT dept was in a converted bus garage and my office was up in hot a dusty loft overlooking what used to be the main service bay. It was also civil service - had to take a test to get a job (or if hired provisionally take a test to keep your job). That's all good and fair - but you get a lot of people who got their job because they could pass a test but were otherwise complete wrecks.

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