Civil Servant • Job Description, Salary & Benefits

Civil Servants work for Her Majesty’s Civil Service, an organisation that is in place to advise and support the government – making sure that public services are maintained correctly and are kept in the right shape no matter which party is in power.

There’s over 150 departments in the Civil Service, from the Treasury to Border Control, so there are a huge range of jobs to choose from. In fact the Service employ nearly 500,000 staff across the country, in roles ranging from administrative work to government advisors.

To get an in-depth look at the roles within the industry, it’s worth finding the page appropriate to the role you’re looking for in our exhaustive list of careers, but this page is to give you a broader idea of what being a Civil Servant entails.

Salary & benefits

Salaries vary depending on your role, but an entry level role in the Service would offer a wage of between £15,000 and £20,000 per year. As you progress up the ladder towards middle management, you could expect to earn over £25,000, with wages of up to £50,000 at the higher end of the middle management sector.

Heads of department in the Civil Service can earn in excess of £100,000 per year, and because the Service is based in a tradition of meritocracy and fairness, if you work hard and are dedicated to your department, there’s no reason that you can’t assume these kind of roles later on in your career.

Working hours

The Service is known for offering a range of full-time and part-time work, meaning that it is a very attractive place to work for people looking for careers that they can build around their family lives. Flexible working hours are common amongst Civil Servants and hours tend to be manageable in most departments.

There are always exceptions but not too many roles in the sector require you to work more than a standard five-day week on a regular basis. If you are office-based and placed in a government department, then this is even more likely to be the case.


Five GCSEs at A to C level including English or Maths are mandatory at all levels of the Civil Service, and there are entry tests which you must pass in order to prove your skills are up to scratch, before you even get to interview.

For graduates, the Civil Service Fast Stream is becoming an ever more appealing option. The Fast Stream is an accelerated learning program where you will work in a variety of different departments in quick-fire stints to make you comfortable with handling pressure early on, a trait which is supposed to inspire graduates into managerial roles very early in their careers. The Fast Stream is a four year course and competition to gain access is intense – you will need at least a 2.1 in your degree to get through the opening stages.

Training & progression

There is always room for progression in the Service, especially if you prove your worth and display traits which endear you to your superiors. Bringing people through from within is one of the things that the Service prides itself on, so if you show you are a capable worker, expect to be considered for career progression.

Training programs are not limited to the Fast Stream, although it is the most well known and highly regarded of the schemes offered. You are expected to be able to think on your feet, work independently and bring new ideas to the table on a regular basis. It’s challenging, but graduates say that the experience is exceptionally rewarding as well.

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