Why would you want to work for the federal government? It is commonly understood that civil servants do not make as much money as their civilian counterparts, but the difference is made up by the benefits. So what are the benefits that make it worth it? I will tell you below!
The average civilian/corporate organization offers its employees ten days of paid time off. TEN DAYS! That means you have ten days to be sick, have sick kids, and take a vacation! That is nothing. Seems like it gets smaller and smaller every decade. Luckily the government still has an antiquated business model. Separate sick leave and annual leave. Add in the federal holidays, if you are lucky enough to get those off too, then you have a total of 20 days off a year. That comes out to a whopping 8% of the year off.
When you start with the government you accrue 4 hours of annual leave every pay period, 26/year. That comes out to 13 days of leave a year. After your 3rd year you will accrue 6 hours a leave a year, then up to 8 hours per pay period. At 15 years you will be accruing 32 days a year of leave which comes out to 6 weeks a year! Wow!~
You will also accrue 4 hours of sick leave every pay period, or 13 days a year, or two and a half weeks a year.
You will, in most cases, also get all federal holidays off. Ten/year… the equivalent of two weeks.
At the beginning of your government career you will get 36 days of time off, the equivalent of 4.5 weeks… or as my dad said, “So you are being paid for a year and only working 10.5 months.” At year 15+ you will get 49 days off, the equivalent of 10 weeks off! Whaaatttttt? I know! Pays to stay! That is almost 20% of the year that you are off work.
If you would like to know more about the Pay and Leave Administration of the Office of Personnel Management, you can go directly to the horse’s mouth: OPM.gov. Considering most things in the government works at a snails pace, they are pretty far ahead when it comes to manpower management and their leave (time off) policy is a testament to that. If your sick leave and annual leave are combined you are far more likely to go in when you are sick. You know what happens when one person comes into the office sick… more people end up sick. You don’t want to be “that guy,” but some jobs don’t give you the option.
The TSP is the Thrift Savings Plan which is just a fancy name for the government’s 401K plan. Like many corporations the government offers a 401k match. To get the full benefit you have to invest 5% of your paycheck and your agency will add another 5% to your retirement account. The standard recommended annual savings for retirement is 10-15% of your paycheck. You are able to meet that objective just by putting in 5% of your own money in. Consider that if you make $50,000/year, you will be getting another $2,500/year on top of your salary. For more information on the 5% match, check this site: TSP.gov TakeFIVE
There are too many variables in the corp world to try to make a general comparison. I have worked for a company that offered up to 3% match and I have worked for a company that will match $.75 on the dollar for up to 6%. The 5% dollar for dollar match you will receive as a federal employee is very competitive, if not better than what is offered on the outside.
The matching 401k isn’t even the best part of the retirement plan that the government offers. While most corps offer the 401k match as the only retirement option, the government offers an annuity PLUS the 401k match… whhhaaatttt???? Yessss! Tell you more? OK!
A federal employee is eligible for the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) after 20 years of creditable service. For the average federal employee you will receive 1% per year of service over the 20 year mark of the highest 3 paychecks per year.
Annuities are AWESOME! If you didn’t know, in general. If you plan to save a certain amount of money based on an estimated length of life… you could underestimate your life expectancy and run out of money! Yipes. Well, with annuities, you get paid until you die. Furthermore, you will get a cost of living adjustment so that you will remain at a certain standard, UNTIL YOU DEATH!
Military Spouses’ Preference is a powerful opportunity allotted to military spouses, supported by Executive Order by both President Obama and President Trump. This makes is easier for spouses to get jobs with the government at every new duty station that they have to follow their spouse to. This makes having a federal jobs ideal for a military spouse because, where your soldier goes, there will be federal jobs! Once you are in the system, you are in! Priority Placement Program (PPP) helps federal government employees transfer to new duty locations around the world. Furthermore, as a military spouse, the MSP is even more powerful OCONUS (Overseas)… thats right ladies, and gents, you have an even better opportunity of getting a good federal job if you follow your spouse to an overseas location than if you stay behind in the states! Aside from being able to see the world, and keep your family together, this is a pretty good reason to GO!
If you would like to know more about using the military spouses preference while overseas check out my other blog 6 Things You Need to Know About Military Spouse’s Preference in Korea; How to get a Federal Job OCONUS
The insurance provided by the federal government at this time (2018) is Blue Cross Blue Shield, in most cases. Insurance is extremely complicated, so it is not really wise to get into it here, also, I am not going to get too into it because this blog is about the benefits to mil spouses and as mil spouses we are on Tricare! If you have health issues and you would like more say over the doctors that you see, then having additional insurance is a great option. It is also subsidized by your employer (the feds), so it is not expensive as far as health insurance goes.
When you are a federal employee you qualify for student loan forgiveness! Click the link to find out how to apply later. It could save you money interest on your loans.
So that is about it in a nutshell! If you have questions or comments about the benefits of working for the US Federal Government as a military spouses feel free to contact me, i would love to hear your thoughts.