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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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Finding public sector jobs

by bseitsinger In reply to

My very first job out of college was a public sector job working for a city's IT department. Being brand new to the job market and rev'd up to use and develop my skills I was bored to death! All the existing staff wanted to do was sit around and talk most of the time, and occassionally do some real work (they had been there a while). It drove me crazy! I lasted about 1 year and have been in the private sector ever since.

For a long while working in the computer profession was a lot of fun - and still mostly is. However, after working in this field for 27+ years I'm tiring of the incessant need to learn new technologies quickly for each new project I work on. That is the blessing and the curse of this field - the need to keep technically relevant, and ramp up in ever shorter cycles.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy learning new stuff as much as the next guy, but not when a deadline is fast approaching and it's critical that the work get done on time, and you've never used the technology before, and there isn't anybody on staff to ask about it. It can be very draining over the long haul.

At this point in my career I could do with a little less stress on the job (and a better benefits package), even if it means working with less-than cutting-edge technology.

So, where can one go to find out about technology jobs in the public sector? (suggestions can be sent to

In addition to my 27+ years experience, I have a Bachelors and Masters in Comp Sci.

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by hyde03 In reply to Finding public sector job ...

Have you tried Hope this helps with your quest.

Troy E. Hyde MCSA

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Just my two cents

by irishdadx4 In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

Let's see - background first: 15 years working for widely known federal agency. Took buy out this year when I was in danger og veing affected by lay-off this year, or very very likely next year. Management couldn't say whether buyout would be offered again. So I took the money and ran. Anyways, I have 8 years of experience as Sys admin, security officer, etc. Mostly all self taught. Have 2 year degree in drafting and design. I'm in school going thorugh for my MSCE, hoping it would help with job replacement. Looking at available jobs, employers appear to be asking for applicants with a four year degree computer science, at least 5 years experience and certifications. And they seem to be only offering salary in the $35-45000 range. Im in theHampton Roads,Va market, not that small. lots of military and other gov't. So I dont have a four year degree, and 45,000 is almost 10K less then I made before, so not looking to good right now. And I can't get another gov't job or work on a contractor on a personal services contract for 5 years unless I pay back all the buyouy money I got, before I start the new job. So thatsmy two cents.

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by shamika.williams In reply to Just my two cents

you stuck with no way out.

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Depends on your goals/priorities

by The Dalles Dweller In reply to Private Sector vs Governm ...

I've worked both as well, and now currently work for a school district making less then I would in the private sector. However, as one of the other posts mentioned, I work 40 hours a week and usually no more. I have a family and I value my time with them. I do have better benefits then when I worked for a "dot-com". I ended up in education after I was layed off when we didn't get our 3rd round of venture capital funding. I made almost twice what I make now, but worked 60+ hours a week.

So as mentioned in an earlier post, if you want to move up quick and can work a lot hours, then go the private sector--especially if you are single and can take the risk of sudden layoffs. The public is slower, less $ but more stable and family-friendly.


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by rmiller In reply to Depends on your goals/pri ...

In my long career I have worked in the private, public, and non profit sectors. I have been an owner, manager, worker, day laborer, and contractor. If any of these situations could guarentee good management and job satisfaction, it would very soon replace all the others. There are a few good managers and the rest range from pathetic to evil. There are good, secure opportunities and poor in every sector. Our society lacks the vision of good employee management. Feedback mechanisms that can monitor employee abuse and correct it are very rare and weak. Most people still value the privileges of powerful over the necessities of the disenpowered. As long as that is the case, most workers will be frustrated. There are some great employers out there. Good luck finding one.

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I have worked in both environments

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

Oddly enough, there a similarites in both environments. In my 24 years in IT, it is about 50/50 now.

I started in Private with a small mom and pop. Pay was good, enough to live on but their operating budget was tight and you were salaried, so did what was necessary to keep your job. Usually benifits were very marginal, health only, but this may not always be the case. Have worked Fortune 100, a big company with many divisions and subsidaries. Good benifits, but if the books did not look good or meet the parent companies expectations, employess got wacked. The one I was at, pink slips went out Christmas week, but the budget was saved for that fiscal year. Four months later, they were hiring. In this type of environment, I agree that sometimes it is who you know and that is how you get promoted or hired, regardless of your knowledge or expertise. Depending on the company, the pay will vary. At Fortune 100, the pay it was well above the norm. It was more than mid grade in the pay band, but I had the knowledge and expertise they wanted. Buy the way, Private uses tests as well, somtimes detailed questions - verbal or written. My interview was 3.5 hours long and a follow up with the Division VP for 2 more hours. Sometimes those are the breaks. So like I said it varies, pay is good, benifits good, but the risk is out there that you can be out of a job, immediately.

Public will vary. Talking Federal, State, County (or its equivlant) or City. I have seen wide variences in all 4 of these. Those with rich budgets pay more. It also comes down to the entity within of each of these 4. A lot of the control is not in their hands as it is legislatively mandated. Also, depended upon the governmental entity, there may be unions or not. There also maybe vestion and bumping rights when the budget goes sour. There also maybe zero rights and when the budget goes sour, it will depend upon your evaluation to see who keeps their job and who gets the pink slip. The benifits are usually very good. Small employee contrib to health ins, maybe no or very trivial payment for life ins, zero contrib to a portable pension plan (401b by the way vs. 401k for private), employee deferred compensation, etc. Example, I pay $6 a month for parking in a major metropolitan city while friends of mine pay close to $200 per month. They make more than me but have higher expenses which off sets the salary. I will say that the same thing goes here. It is who you know and not necessarly what you know that can get you promoted or hired.

Enough for my soap box for now. There are risks and perks in both sectors. All factors need to be evaluated in determination overall compensation vs. final pay and I am not saying what your W2 says. There are some expenses that you can not deduct on your taxes but bite into your paycheck as costs of working at a particular company. The same goes the other way. There are benifits that the employer maybe paying at higher percentage of that when looked at in the BIG PICTURE of your compensation and will offset what looks like to be a reduced salary between environments. People, do the math. This is very important if you are considering changing jobs and localities.

May you all have a great day!

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Govt. service as a foot in the door

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

I currently work for a state govt. I started out in the agency in a non IT position 6years ago. This seems to happen a lot in our state govt.

They don't pay well enough to get highly qualified people. And since the budget crunch of the last few years, our benefits are terrible.

What happens is you have someone like me start doing the job, learning more and more, then eventually, they leave for a higher paying private sector job.

For instance, we had a secretary several years ago who was doing network admin work (still secretary pay). She continued to train and get certification, she was offered a job in the private sector making 4X her old pay (she took it).

But, from what I hear, it depends on the individual govt. agency you work for. Some pay good, some not. But they ALL have "red tape" and regulations. Pay raises are decided by the state legislature and the governor. Over the past 3 years, we have had ONE 2% raise.

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Foot in the Door

by Queenken In reply to Govt. service as a foot i ...

The "Get your foot in the door and explore the opportunities" verbiage was given to me during an interview. However, once you are in... then you begin to see the compensation hoops you have to go through and the up hill battle that ensues to obtain a raise and a promotion. In these economic times... having a job worth holding on to is a good thing. But it would be better if the pay were more comensurate with what you brought to the table.

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Experience Not Necessarily Compensated

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

I have just begun working in govt sector. I'm finding there is a lot of shrinkage in the pay structure. benefits are more expensive, and exempt exempt employees made 2 take leave 4 partial days wkd? In private sector that is not the case.

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