15 Highest Paying Government Jobs

Updated March 10, 2023

As a large employer, the federal government can present a number of career opportunities you may be interested in, most commonly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), although there are others too. A government job can provide flexibility and a range of other benefits, making the appeal high for many job seekers. You may also be able to secure a high-paying position, depending on your experience, education and skill set.

In this article, we define a government job, explain the benefits of government jobs and provide a list of high-paying jobs in government you may be interested in.

What are government jobs?

A government job is any role that reports to or enhances a federal, state or local government. Depending on your career interests, it's likely you'll be able to find a corresponding job working for the government, providing services to a group or entity that cannot do the same for themselves.

Benefits of government jobs

Some of the many advantages that come with a government job, regardless of which branch, include the following:

  • Benefits: The government offers federal benefits, including health insurance and pension plans, to employees that are often better than many other industries and companies.

  • Competitive pay: Employees working a government job can expect to receive a competitive salary, especially with job promotions and advancements.

  • Work-life balance: There are many government careers that offer a flexible schedule, which can include part-time opportunities, remote work options or an untraditional schedule. In most cases, you can also expect to have federal holidays off work. This flexibility can help you achieve a work-life balance that supports your personal life.

  • Varied career paths: There is likely a government job for you, no matter what your interests are. Federal, state and even local governments hire for a variety of positions that can satisfy your career ambitions.

  • Job satisfaction: Those who appreciate challenging work will find job satisfaction with a government career. Many things that government employees do are groundbreaking, giving you the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

  • Location: There are government career opportunities all over the nation and world. It's likely that no matter where you live, you can find jobs available working for the federal, state or local government.

  • Advancement opportunities: The government offers comprehensive training and advancement opportunities to employees who excel in their role. With a position in government, you can accomplish your career goals and continue to succeed in your position.

15 best-paying government jobs

Explore this list of the highest paying government jobs, organized by national average salary recorded from Indeed Salary where links can be followed to the most up-to-date figures for each job title:

1. Air traffic controller

National average salary: $46,331 per year

Primary duties: An air traffic controller directs aircraft traffic and guides pilots into safe landings. They monitor aircraft in flight, clear aircraft for takeoff and landing and perform their job with the safety of all pilots, crew members and passengers as their primary goal.

Read more: Learn About Being an Air Traffic Controller

2. Human resources specialist

National average salary: $47,417 per year

Primary duties: Human resources specialist recruits and helps hire employees. They may review resumes, conduct employment screenings, schedule interviews and collaborate with the hiring manager for their department's open positions. Human resources specialists also provide training to employees, handle conflicts in the workplace and provide employees with information about compensation and benefits.

3. Registered nurse

National average salary: $61,730 per year

Primary duties: A registered nurse is responsible for taking care of patients through administering medications, taking vital sign readings, assessing a patient's health and helping doctors develop treatment plans. They also communicate updates about a patient to their fellow nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Read more: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse (RN)

4. Federal investigator

National average salary: $62,662 per year

Primary duties: A federal investigator investigates crimes and other incidents that are under federal jurisdiction. They gather evidence, interview witnesses, make arrests and work with state and local law enforcement professionals to solve the case. Some examples of cases that a federal investigator will be responsible for include tax evasion and fraud, drug trafficking and organized crime.

5. Customs officer

National average salary: $70,428 per year

Primary duties: A customs officer is responsible for monitoring ports of entry into the United States. They inspect cargo and passengers' luggage, collect taxes and duties and make sure that all materials and goods coming into the country are legal and safe.

6. Border patrol agent

National average salary: $70,752 per year

Primary duties: A border patrol agent stands guard over the nation's borders. They apprehend suspects engaged in illegal activity, observe checkpoints and other traffic stops and write reports for superiors.

Read more: Learn About Being a Border Patrol Agent

7. Budget analyst

National average salary: $80,945 per year

Primary duties: A budget analyst is responsible for helping organizations build their budgets and organize their finances. They create budget reports, monitor governmental spending, produce budget proposals and complete cost-benefit analysis. Budget analysts also filter through funding requests and estimate the financial needs of future projects.

8. Compliance officer

National average salary: $82,425 per year

Primary duties: A compliance officer makes sure that their company complies with federal, state and local regulations. They educate their staff on new compliance information, prepare and file compliance documents, identify risks and complete investigations.

9. Civil engineer

National average salary: $87,362 per year

Primary duties: A civil engineer is responsible for conceptualizing, designing, building and maintaining infrastructures and systems. They analyze survey reports, apply for permits, assess hazards and risks associated with a new project and prepare cost estimates. Civil engineers also follow government standards and test building materials.

Read more: Learn About Being a Civil Engineer

10. Auditor

National average salary: $89,354 per year

Primary duties: An auditor reviews financial statements to make sure they are accurate and comply with regulations. They also organize financial records, identify and suggest cost-saving methods and produce reports for company stakeholders so they can understand more about the financial operations of the business. Auditors also prepare tax returns and make tax payments on behalf of the organization.

Read more: Learn About Being an Auditor

11. Mechanical engineer

National average salary: $95,223 per year

Primary duties: A mechanical engineer is responsible for designing mechanical systems with the goal of addressing and improving a particular problem. They analyze issues, examine problems with equipment, conduct tests on equipment and manage the build process.

Read more: Learn About Being a Mechanical Engineer

12. Mathematician

National average salary: $95,463 per year

Primary duties: A mathematician uses data and mathematical theories to solve problems. They examine data, design data-collecting tools, create reports based on their conclusions and offer suggestions to stakeholders to assist them with making strategic business decisions. Mathematicians also identify trends and conduct tests on a group of data.

13. Political affairs officer

National average salary: $117,294 per year

Primary duties: A political affairs officer is responsible for analyzing political trends and developing solutions to common problems. They keep in contact with liaisons from other nations, monitor the actions of governmental groups, prepare briefings and other documents and maintain databases of secure information.

14. Certified registered nurse anesthetist

National average salary: $156,521 per year

Primary duties: A certified registered nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or other medical procedures. They are responsible for reviewing patient health histories to ensure they meet any qualifications for receiving anesthesia. They also monitor patient health and check in with patients post-procedure to address any concerns.

Read more: Learn About Being a Nurse Anesthetist

15. Physician

National average salary: $242,615 per year

Primary duties: A physician is responsible for assessing patients, diagnosing illnesses and developing treatment plans. They order diagnostic tests and procedures, review test results with patients, update patient medical charts and provide care instructions to nursing staff. Physicians also work directly with patients to address any concerns and provide them with the resources they need to pursue or maintain optimal health.

Read more: Learn About Being a Physician

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