If you’re looking for a job, it’s not necessary to leave your community to find meaningful, challenging work. Working for your local government may provide you with more opportunities than you might think. Local governments provide many of the same career opportunities as private industry. While many of the tasks are similar, important differences between public and private service make working for local governments attractive on many levels.
If you’re looking for stability, great benefits, lots of learning opportunities, and the chance to really make a difference in your community, then a job in local government is right for you.
What to Expect from Income for a Local Government Job?
In applying for a local government job, you can expect a competitive wage. However, don’t expect to reach the top of your pay range for any position. You’ll never get rich working for your local government. The Center for Retirement Research (Boston College) reports that when we combine income and benefits of working for local government, they still receive 4% less than that of comparable employees who work in the private sector.
Don’t let that fact deter you from seeking a position in local government. Some of the benefits outweigh the income potential. More importantly, local governments offer somewhat better job stability even when economic times are challenging. Many of the benefits of working for local government more than make up for any of the cons.
Local Government Gives You a Chance to Make a Valuable Difference in Your Community
Local governments form numerous departments to manage all the various needs of the community. Some local governments may have as many as 50 different departments. That means there are lots of opportunities to work and serve your community in a variety of capacities.
Each department has specific responsibilities. Firefighters, police officers, public works employees, building and zoning commissioners, clerks, office staff, and many more all serve their communities in vital ways every day. Elected officials perform the important duty of planning for their communities. Those who choose to work for their local governments get to see the effects of the work in their communities every day. In times of crisis, local government workers pull together and collaborate on how to manage the crisis and rebuild their community after the dust settles.
A Career in Your Local Government Offers an Opportunity to See How the Community Functions
So much goes on behind the scenes in local government. When you work for your government you get a front row seat to understanding how the public works crew can plow miles and miles of roads when the snow starts to fall and get it all completed within a few hours to keep everyone safe.
When your friends and family need information about permits, licenses, or city ordinance, you’ll have first-hand knowledge about where to direct them to get the answers they need. You’ll know how the various departments are interconnected and how to navigate them.
In times of crisis, you may work with policy advisors, doctors, plumbers, electricians, IT personnel, building inspectors and others and be part of the team that makes your community better. These situations help you to get an up-close glimpse at the people and programs that make your community successful.
Opportunities in local government present themselves every day. These opportunities give local government workers the chance to step up and make things happen. In doing so, local government employees can climb the ladder fairly quickly, which will increase income and status.
Working in Local Government Presents Lots of Opportunities for Training and Career Enhancement
The fast pace of technology is creating many new challenges and opportunities in local government. Many other issues are also changing such as citizen demands, new federal and state regulations, changes in demographics, a heavier focus on environmental factors, and many more. Baby boomers have long held positions in local government and large numbers of them will be retiring in the near future, creating viable openings for millennials to fill the gaps.
Those working in local government are looking forward to having the opportunity to gain a new generation of younger workers, as well as individuals who are looking for second or third career change opportunities. Many who currently work in local government are eager to learn from younger people, many of whom are tech-savvy, agile, and provide a fresh perspective on how to do things more efficiently and with less cost.
A job in local government provides many opportunities for training and development. Local government budgets are often tight. For this reason, local government staff often have to share responsibilities, providing lots of opportunities for cross-training which can form the basis for advancement. In addition, smaller communities often benefit from working together on certain issues. Working in a smaller local government facility sometimes opens up opportunities to work with other government workers in neighboring communities to collaborate and share services.
Local governments are also often interested in such issues as workforce development. There may be opportunities to train for specific jobs in local government or train for similar jobs in the private sector.
Other Benefits of Working for Local Government
One of the things that are hard to come by in other types of careers is having the ability to work in the area where you live. Given the choice between slightly less pay and having a lengthy commute that adds hours to your workday, many people favor staying close to home. In addition, local governments usually offer good health insurance plans along with retirement benefits and pensions. Most local government workers get paid vacation leave, a few sick days, and many paid holidays.
Does Your Local Government Offer Transparency and Opportunities for Public Engagement?
The Transparency Portal is an interactive website that connects to your local government’s website seamlessly. The portal provides the public, council members, and staff to easy online access to local government information. Citizens can use the portal to view council meeting agendas and minutes or view an entire council meeting online. In addition, citizens can easily search online for all documents that are of public record. The tools offered by iCompass allow for scheduling meetings, integrated audio and video displays, digital voting, and much more.
This is just one of the ways that technology is being used to enhance the inner-workings of local government. Check with your local government today to find out if there are any job openings that are right for you.