The federal government is divided into three main branches- Legislative, Judicial, and Executive. There is an approximate total of 2.8 million civil servants employed in all three branches of the federal government with 2 million of those individuals working under the Executive Branch, the main employer of civil service workers. On average, there are 55,000 monthly job openings in federal employment.
Civil service jobs in the federal government are managed by the OPM (Office of Personnel Management), an independent government agency that advertises job vacancies in the federal government as well as the duties of the position, requirements, and how to apply for the federal civil service exam. The OPM created USA Hire an online assessment program designed specifically to meet the hiring needs of Government agencies.
Not all federal positions require a written or computerized government job test. Some professional jobs such as nurses, financial analysts, and certain specialists are evaluated based on the candidate’s training and experience. However, most federal government positions are competitive - meaning that they do require a federal civil service exam in which there is an open competition between candidates. Agencies that demand mandatory government career tests include:
|Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS)||Air Marshal||Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)||Border Patrol (USBP)|
|Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)||Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)||Foreign Service Written Exam||Internal Revenue Service|
|Mail Handlers (USPS)||National Security Agency (NSA)||Secret Service||Transportation Security Administration|
|Treasury Enforcement Agent||US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)||US Marshal||US Postal Inspector|
Some government jobs, although they fall under the branch of federal civil service, may require a special federal civil service exam, an exception known as Expected Civil Service. Vacancies for expected service agencies are not posted on the OPM’s listing of available positions but on the individual agency websites. They set their own qualifications and requirements for available jobs. These agencies include:
|Postal Office Services||Law Enforcement||Firefighting||Emergency Services|
Special pathways and opportunities have been made available for students and college graduates who are looking for government employment positions. These occupations are directly related to college majors (some that request an academic degree or coursework in a particular area) and require a federal civil service exam.
Applying for the federal civil service exams is done online through the OPM or the individual agency’s website. The federal civil service exams differ according to the profession the candidate is applying for. However, since the federal government job tests are created by the OPM, federal exams for the same position are generally identical no matter which state the candidate is being tested in. Click here to learn more about civil service exams by profession.
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