What Is Government Employment?


Government employment involves jobs in public agencies, as well as the hiring of individuals employed by private companies to perform tasks for the government. Government employment is available at several different levels, including local, state and federal. Although some government employees are elected, the vast majority are hired, in much the same way that private sector companies hire workers.

Elected Officials

Elected government officials can be understood both as employees of government agencies in which they serve and as employees of the constituents whom they represent. In the United States, elected officials hold a finite term of office. At the end of the term, the people whom they represent vote on whether the official should continue to hold the post. If he is re-elected, he remains an employee of the government.

Hired Employees

The most common type of government employee is one who is hired to work for the agency. All employees of government agencies are hired by elected officials or their subordinates. These employees often perform tasks similar to employees working in the private sector. However, while the hiring process is similar to that of a private sector position, politics may be involved. For example, in some cases, a government employer may discriminate in hiring based on a prospective employee's political views.


There are a number of employees who do not work directly for government, but provide services for a government agency. For example, the U.S. military often hires private security contractors to perform duties similar to those performed by service members. These contractors are technically employed by a private corporations. However, they may take orders from the government agency to which they are assigned.

Indirect Employment

Many employees who do not work on contract for a government agency can still credit their livelihood to purchases made by government. Each year, government agencies spend billions of dollars on goods and services from private companies. This spending creates thousands of jobs. For example, a government agency may purchase a large fleet of cars from an automobile company. While an employee of the auto company isn't a government employee, in some sense she owes her employment to the government.

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  • "The Book of U.S. Government Jobs"; Dennis V. Damp; 2008
  • "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Government Jobs"; Partnership for Public Service; 2010
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