Salary of a Civil Servant

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Civil servants work on behalf of the citizens of the United States.
Civil servants work on behalf of the citizens of the United States. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The appointment or election to civil service involves becoming authorized to work at a public institution, such as taking office as the result of a vote or appointment by a superior civil service administrator to a position. Historically, the civil servant worked as a volunteer without any pay. Modern civil servants typically earn a yearly salary for their work.

Federal Civil Service Positions

The Civil Service Law of 1978 regulates modern civil service and payment policies for workers in the United States. Civil service salaries and wages use the "Grade and Step Table" for employees working at federal jobs. The grade levels begin at level one and increase to level 15. Grade advancement comes through training or promotion. The table also includes step increases for years of service. Entry-level salary as of 2011 was $17,803 for grade one. Entry-level employees hired for jobs at an experience level of 15 earned $99,628 in the same year. An employee hired at the first level on the table earned $22,269 at the end of ten years at that level. As of 2011, Grade 15 earners brought home $129,517 after ten years of experience. Employees use GS levels to describe positions. A seasoned staff member at grade 15 uses the designation GS-15.

State Civil Service Jobs

State and local workers in 2009 earned more than their private sector job counterparts in 41 states. The highest-paid state civil servants lived in the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New Jersey and California, while civil workers in South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas and Idaho earned the lowest salaries. District of Columbia civil workers averaged salaries at $82,607 in 2009, while civil servants in South Dakota earned $41,684 in the same year. The salary figures for state workers provided by USA Today includes wages and health and pension benefits.

County Civil Service Employment

County worker salaries vary with the geographic region of the country. Full-time workers in Washington County Maryland in 2011 earned an average of $46,800, a figure approximately 28 percent higher than the county's average salary for non-governmental workers. Salaries ranged from a low of $22,848 for landfill workers to $120,228 for a high-level county administrator. County worker pay paralleled state pay scales, according to USA Today.

Local Civil Servant Careers

City, town and village workers in relatively unpopulated areas typically earn the lowest salary levels compared with other civil service jobs. The exception to this rule occurred in Bell, California, where city civil servants serving as city manager, police chief and assistant city manager all earned a yearly salary of more than $200,000 in 2010. Civil servants in large cities earn salaries comparable to county and state workers. The base salary for civil servants working in New York, for example, averaged $59,255 a year. The three top-paid New York City workers in 2009 included the mayor at a salary of $225,000, the first deputy mayor at $227,219, and the school chancellor, who earned the top salary of $250,000 a year. New York City, like many other cities, posts public servant salaries online for public review.

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