The American economy is experiencing near unprecedented growth, riding the wave of an unemployment rate of 4% and outstanding consumer confidence. Given the up economy, now is an excellent time to hop into the American labor force for the first time or take on that career change you’ve always considered.
Before you start applying for positions, most people will want to consider a very important question.
Should you work in the public or private sector?
Working in the public sector can feel dramatically different to those with private sector experience and visa versa. While public sector jobs are lauded for a number of advantages they carry, they’re not without their drawbacks.
Below, our team outlines the pros and cons of working in the public sector with the aim of helping you form an educated opinion on if public sector work is right for you.
The Pros of Working in the Public Sector
At Public Admin Careers, we talk about the benefits of government employment in a lot of the articles on our site. Below, we’ve compiled a top-line of our favorite benefits public sector employees can enjoy.
In a world where private businesses are becoming progressively bullish on driving profits and reducing the quality of their work environments, the excellent benefits of public sector employment become more and more valuable.
With a government job, you can expect outstanding healthcare. You’ll get favorable retirement contribution plans. You will even enjoy excellent maternity benefits.
Even during periods of recession, you can generally expect government jobs to outpace their private sector counterparts when it comes to benefits packages.
The private sector is extremely nimble. That nimbleness often leads to a non-stop cycle of change which could result in high turnover rates.
The government moves a lot slower than private sector businesses which means that if you have a job, chances are it’s secure. There is also an assortment of government job protections through unions and other 3rd parties. This makes firings very difficult.
If you value being able to spend time with your family, you can expect more stability on that front working in the public sector than you can count on in the private sector.
With government jobs, most employees enjoy generous time off. They also enjoy flexibility in the way of telecommuting or making other special arrangements to better suit their lives.
In addition to generous paid time off, most government jobs observe federal holidays and even local/state holidays. These holidays are also fully paid.
If you’re a public school teacher, it’s important to note that while summers are off, they are typically unpaid. That is unless your district has a summer savings program that dilutes your monthly paychecks in order to pay you year round.
A Sense of Service
If you care about your community, working in the public sector could give you a deep sense of satisfaction.
Many government jobs are focused on improving the lives of people who need help. You taking on a role in the public sector means you’ll get to use your talents to shape the future of your city, state, and country!
The Cons of Working in the Public Sector
As with all employment situations, government jobs come with cons. The most commonly cited ones are outlined below.
Non-Stimulating Work Environments
As we mentioned earlier, the government is slow moving. Due to the amount of buy-in that’s required to make sweeping changes, things stay the same and advancements come slower than they do in the private sector.
If you’re a person who enjoys working on the cutting-edge of things, you may find yourself understimulated in the public sector.
If there is a similar role in both the private and public sector, chances are the private sector job will pay more.
Public sector jobs are under sharp scrutiny on how much money is paid to fill positions. That’s because funding for the public sector comes largely from tax dollars.
Given that reality, you’ll often see the high-level government officials transition to the private sector.
Slow Career Growth
There are a lot of politics at play in the public sector. People are generally not reprimanded as severely for underperforming as they are in the private sector. It’s also harder to fire employees, and seniority matters in a big way.
Because of that, people rarely leave their jobs and moving up the corporate ladder can be very slow for ambitious people.
Administration Changes Can Have Dire Consequences
While government jobs are celebrated for their stability, you stand to lose more than the average person during presidential elections. When administrations change, often times budget control and system disruption are at the center of campaign promises.
If you end up working under an administration that is looking to disrupt the status quo, you may end up out of a job.
Summarizing Working in the Public Sector: Pros and Cons
Working in the public sector is an excellent choice for people who are looking to invest their talents in their community. It’s also great for those looking for a stable employment situation.
Those who want to remain on the cutting edge of innovation or want to experience fast financial success are better off applying for positions outside of the government.
If you’re looking for the tools you need to be successful in government jobs, non-profit organizations, and even private sector positions, you should be considering a degree in public administration.
To learn mow about public administration and what it can do for you, read more here!