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Civilian federal government employees earn average salaries ranging from $15,278 to $269,735, depending on their occupation. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which collects data on federal employee salaries, primarily accounts for civilian federal employees in the executive branch.

Which federal employees have the highest salaries?

Medical officers have the highest average salaries at $269,735 per year, followed by securities compliance examiners ($210,689), dental officers ($202,333), administrative law judges ($192,546), and ship pilots ($183,500).

Three of the 15 highest-paying jobs in the federal government are in the medical field, and three involve working on patents. The OPM categorizes 12 of the top-paying jobs as “white-collar” and three as “blue-collar.”

The OPM defines white-collar work as positions requiring knowledge or experience of an administrative, clerical, scientific, artistic, or technical nature unrelated to trade, craft, or manual labor. Meanwhile, it defines blue-collar work as related to trade, craft, or manual labor. The three blue-collar jobs with the highest average salaries are maritime occupations: ship pilot, vessel master, and vessel chief engineer.

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Where do federal employees earn the highest salaries?

Federal employees earn the highest average salaries in Washington, DC, at $137,045 per year, according to the most recently available (March 2023) data from OPM. The top three states are Maryland ($128,254), Virginia ($112,665), and New Jersey ($112,149).

The states where federal employees earned the lowest average salaries are Utah ($81,018), Wyoming ($80,549), and South Dakota ($80,020).

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How are government salaries determined?

The general schedule (GS) pay system, law enforcement officer pay schedules, and the Executive Employee pay schedule determine most salaries for positions in the federal government.

The GS pay system covers about 1.5 million civilian, white-collar, federal employees in professional, technical, clerical, and administrative roles. It has 15 grades, and each consecutive grade corresponds to increasing job difficulty, responsibility, and required qualifications.

The GS schedule is adjusted annually in January with an across-the-board pay raise that reflects changes in the cost of wages and salaries of private industry workers. Most federal employees also receive locality pay increases, which are calculated based on geographic areas and intend to reflect the pay levels of non-federal employees in those regions. There are about 47 locality pay areas.

Law enforcement office pay schedules govern the salaries of law enforcement officers.The executive and senior executive service pay schedules cover the salaries of senior government officials in the executive branch. Similar to the GS schedule, these pay schedules are calculated using grades and steps.

What additional benefits are available to government employees?

Government employee benefits include federal student loan repayment and other financial incentives and rewards. Some agencies help repay up to $60,000 in federally insured student loans and offer monetary recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives, as well as performance awards.

Other benefits include paid holidays, various types of insurance, childcare and commuter subsidies, retirement benefits, paid sick leave, accommodating workplaces.

What is the pay raise for federal employees in 2023?

In 2023, pay for civilian federal employees increased by an average of 4.6%. Across-the-board base pay increased by 4.1%, while locality pay increased by an average of 0.5%.

Future pay raises

Civilian federal employees will see their pay increase by 5.2% in 2024, according to the White House. The provisional estimated salary increase in 2025 is 2%, though this percentage may change upon finalizing the fiscal year 2025 budget.

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