February 26, 2022


This blog, “Where To Find Occupations That Make Up The Federal Government’s Civil Service System” is part of a series on how to effectively explore careers and opportunities in the federal government. The introduction of this series can be found at Exploring the Federal Careers Landscape: An Introduction.


By Alex Harrington

For some time now you have felt a calling to public service, and your first choice is a federal career. But now you wonder, “Where do I start?” 

For most aspiring job seekers, their first step is visiting USAJOBS, the federal government’s primary central online portal—operated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—where one can find more than 17,000 job openings government-wide.

But for some (perhaps you?), you stare at the computer or smartphone screen, overwhelmed by thousands of job postings. What's more challenging as you sift through all the federal job openings, you’re not even sure if the federal government has a career for you.

No worries, my friend. We are here to help you search and find the right job fit for you.

Today’s civil service system accommodates more than 350 different occupations. There are unlimited opportunities for careers in administrative, technical, professional, blue collar, clerical, and many other occupations. But how do you find these careers? Where do you learn about federal occupations? And which jobs are in high demand today? 

First, in this blog, we’re going to help you understand the federal hiring landscape by showing you where to go to learn about the many occupations comprising the federal government’s civil service system.

Where To Go and Learn About the Federal Government’s Career Landscape

Before I show you the key sources to learn about the multitudes of jobs available in the federal government’s civil service system, you need to understand one thing: the best listings on government careers are not on .com websites or discussion boards. Believe me, these are NOT the best places to learn about federal career opportunities. In fact, as a young Marine years ago, I was financially fleeced by one of those private listings. Remember this: the federal government does not charge job seekers to find and apply for public careers. So, if you come by a website that offers federal job listings at a price, run away from your computer fast!

Okay, enough of my admonitions. Now to the good stuff.

There are three government online occupation resources you can start with.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook describes a wide range of useful information on various job prospects. It also reports on what workers do on a particular job, along with working conditions, training and education requirements, and potential earnings.

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics: You can also find federal employment and wage estimates on BLS’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics webpage. There are over 500 federal occupation listings. You’re going to have to take some time on this webpage, but it will be worth the time investment when it comes to learning about your field of interest.

Classification and Qualifications Handbook: I consider this resource to be the granddaddy of federal career descriptions! The OPM’s Classification and Qualifications for both white collar and blue collar positions. These two resources give federal human resources specialists a starting point to classify positions at their respective agency. 

U.S. Agency Websites

You may decide to search for a federal job on an Agency's website. And for those who value mission and culture, starting at an agency is a good way to learn about which types of careers they have. The best government site to go to find career opportunities at U.S. federal government departments and agencies, is A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies on USA.gov. You can also find contact emails, phone numbers, and addresses. What a great resource to build your networking campaign! 

Cybersecurity Careers

For those who are interested in cybersecurity careers should check out CyberCareers.gov. This online resource was created through a collaborative effort by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) agencies, along with private industry and academia. The platform provides tools, resources, and a guide to the Cybersecurity workforce within the Federal Government for cybersecurity job seekers, federal hiring managers and supervisors, current federal cybersecurity employees, students and universities.

Intelligence Careers

This is a great online resource for those who have a desire to protect our country from domestic and foreign adversaries through intelligence analysis and sharing. The U.S. Intelligence Careers portal is the official source for careers in the U.S. Intelligence Community. It provides a profile for 17 federal intelligence agencies that focus on an ever-expanding range of issues, from terrorist financing to drug trafficking, from climate change and environmental issues to foreign technology threats and nuclear proliferation.

DoD Civilian Careers

The Department of Defense recently launched a new website providing job seekers with a better understanding of DoD civilian employment opportunities. Learn more at https://www.dodciviliancareers.com/.

Nonprofit Online Resources on Federal Careers

Now, I mentioned earlier that you should NEVER look for government career occupations on .com websites or discussion boards. However, there are two nonprofits that do a great job in listing federal career profiles.

Go Government Career Guides: Sponsored by Partnership for Public Service, Go Government Career Guides list 15 federal career profiles from administration to security. This site also provides helpful information on working aboard in a government career.

O*NET OnLine Federal Careers: Developed by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration through a grant to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Occupational Information Network (O*NET) provides a comprehensive list of 375 occupations in the federal government

Okay, I think I took enough of your reading time. Let’s continue exploring careers and opportunities in the federal government in our next blog, Federal Agencies Looking to Fill High Demand Positions, where Angela Freeman, our HR Advisor, will highlight the most urgent hiring needs today in the federal government, especially those associated with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Office of Personnel Management’s hiring authorities associated with the jobs act, along with critical jobs associated with the pandemic.

Be sure to check out our related blogs below:

Please follow us on Twitter @FedCareer and join our Federal Career Connection page on LinkedIn or find us on Meetup at meetup.com/mbc-cnm. To get updates on upcoming workshops and career coaching sessions, visit https://federalcareerconnection.org/events/

Alex Harrington
Chair & Executive Director
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