Civilian Jobs with the Military Establishment

The United States Armed Forces consists of six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. All orchestrated from a central command, the Department of Defense. Their tentacles reach to the far corners of the world and they require a huge federal civilian workforce to support their many missions.

The Space Force was established on Dec. 20, 2019, when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law, creating the first new branch of the armed services since 1947. The establishment of the USSF resulted from widespread recognition that space is a national security imperative.

Their mission is to secure our Nation’s interests in, from, and to space. All of the departments listed have a similar mission particular to their operations by land sea and air.


Many job searchers bypass great opportunities because they believe you must be a service member or a veteran to hold a position with one of the service branches. There is a similar misconception for those seeking employment with the Veteran’s administration.

Job seekers believe the positions are reserved for veterans, only a third of those working for federal government are veterans including in the VA.

Don’t exclude any job vacancy posted on USAJOBS, the job announcement will outline all qualifications and you can select to apply for jobs open to the public to find all available vacancies.  

The Military Establishment

The Department of Defense and related cabinet level departments employ over 746,464 federal employees currently working across the country and overseas. There are abundant opportunities to work as a civilian with the following Cabinet Level Agencies:

  • Department of Defense *(152,949)
  • Department of the Army *(218,422)
  • Department of the Air Force *(163,765(
  • Department of the Navy *(212,237)

*Number Employed

Locations Worldwide

With few exceptions, any occupation, that you can imagine is employed by these huge Departments. Most of the Wage Grade (WG) trade jobs are employed here from carpenters, plumbers, and HVAC specialists to cooking staff, laundry and housekeeping.

These positions aren’t limited to the United States, 26,984 work overseas and 3,344 are employed in the U.S Territories; American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Midway Island, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Wake Atoll.

Jobs aren’t limited to military establishments; you can find them across the country in all major metropolitan areas and many rural areas as well.  


Currently there are over 14,000 job announcements posted on USAJOBS for positions with the military establishment, all civilian federal employees; no boot camp required.  Don’t limit your search there, also search for vacancies in the following departments. Click on the Department to go direct to the USAJOBS listings for that group.

JOB Vacancy Listings

You can dig a little deeper if you like and search for Space Force or any organization of interest. There are 161 job announcements listed for them.

Many of the job announcements are for multiple positions at different locations around the country. There are many opportunities for those who are looking for a challenging position that supports our national security and interests.


All of these groups work with the most technologically advanced systems, IT, and equipment.  Yet, the jobs run the gambit from entry level to senior positions in all occupational groups. You can work high tech, IT, the trades and everything in between. Search out suitable positions in your area and apply online.

Don’t let the application discourage you from applying. Yes, the application process can be challenging, and you will have to provide considerably more information than what the private sector requires. Review the application process and sample federal style resume that we posted online to help you through the process.

Agencies Extending Direct Hiring Authority (DHA) for STEM Positions

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is authorizing an interim extension to the government wide direct hire authorities (DHA) for Scientific, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) positions, Acquisitions, as well as Cybersecurity and related positions where they identified severe shortages of candidates and/or critical hiring needs.

OPM is amending the authority by adding two occupational series, data science (GS-1560) and operations research (GS-1515) to support agency efforts to expand artificial intelligence capabilities in the Federal government.

This authority expires September 29, 2024 or until OPM terminates this authority, whichever occurs first.

Direct Hire Authority

Direct hire authority is granted to agencies with specific hiring needs in one or several job series. The Office of Personnel Management allows agencies with this Delegated Examining Authority — often referred as Direct Hire Authority — to advertise job openings, rate applicants, establish their own eligibility lists and registers, conduct interviews and hire.

This offers a fast track for agencies when they find a qualified applicant and need to expedite the process to bring them on board as soon as possible. Direct hire agencies may forward their critical need occupations lists to state agencies to find suitable applicants.

Covered Positions

The following list of direct hire positions will help you explore vacancies. Click on the occupation title to review the occupation qualifications and you will find a direct link to all vacancies in that occupation that are listed on USAJOBS. We also provide interviews with active federal employees on many occupations that you can read to discover how they feel about their job.

Scientific, Technical, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)


Cybersecurity and Related

Appointments Under Direct Hire Authorities

Individuals may be appointed into the occupations identified above at the specified grade levels (or equivalent) nationwide. They may be appointed to competitive service career, career-conditional, term, or temporary positions, as appropriate.

Hiring agencies must identify and use proper assessment tools for the positions being filled with these direct hire authorities to determine who is qualified for the covered positions. Applicants must be assessed in the order in which the applications were received and select any qualified applicant in an order that approximates order of receipt.


When I was recruiting and had direct hire authority, we were able to pick up several employees the same day they applied and upon completion of their interview. These appointments are often made at the end of the fiscal year. If agencies don’t fill a position before September 30, they may lose the position the following year.  

Explore your options, apply for as many vacancies as you can find to improve your chances. Direct hire authority can work to your favor in many instances.

Exploring Federal Jobs – The First Step

Have you ever wondered why some who land jobs with Uncle Sam have half the experience, education, and special qualifications that you do — and you’re still looking? Many who approach the federal sector don’t take the time to understand the federal hiring process. Others get frustrated by the required paperwork and give up prematurely.


The hiring process today is streamlined compared to when I applied for my first federal job. Federal recruiters are hard pressed to find the talent they need for critical vacancies and are trying everything possible to attract the limited talent available.

This includes incentives such as the ability to negotiate salary, student loan payments, the potential for remote or telework options, and multiple duty locations.

Their USAJOBS recruiting site centralized recruiting for agencies that in the past had to do this on their own. You apply online, submit your application for jobs of interest and posted resumes are searched by recruiters, even if you don’t apply for a specific job.  


Their centralized job search site, offers everything an applicant needs to explore jobs in related fields, find active job announcements, and apply online.  

The first step is to create a profile which allows you to save job searches and specific job vacancies for further review. Before uploading your resume and related documents, locate jobs of interest and apply online. Upload your tailored resume, and you can elect to make it searchable so all federal recruiters can review it and contact you for positions you qualify for in their organization.

Job Announcements

When applying for any federal job print out a copy and read the job announcement front to back. Highlight key qualifications, skills, and other requirements. The job announcement explains everything you need to know to apply for that specific job.

Every job announcement is unique, so don’t assume because you read one for the exact same job series and grade that the requirements are the same for this new job. This is especially true for the required key Duties, Responsibilities and Specialized Experience. Each advertised job has specific requirements such as proficiency and experience with computer software, equipment, programs, reporting systems, skills, and other factors.

Job applicants shouldn’t submit the same resume for every job they apply for.  Your resume must be tailored to the announcement’s qualifications. Applicants can save multiple resumes on their account and tailor them as needed when applying for other jobs.

Apply Early and Often

Start your employment search early, applications take several weeks or longer to process and evaluate. Plus, the top-rated applicants must be interviewed.

Contact the recruiting specialist that issued the announcement if you haven’t heard anything within a reasonable period of time. The recruiting specialist contact information is located towards the end of each job announcement. They can also answer any questions you may have about the vacancy.

Many submit one application and wait to hear back from the agency. Be proactive, and apply for any vacancies that you meet the qualifications for and are interested in.  


Competition for federal positions increases during times of economic uncertainty, when workers seek the stability of federal employment. In general, employment in the federal government is relatively stable because it is less susceptible than private industries to economic fluctuations.

If you take the time to understand the differences between the private and public sectors, thoroughly complete your application package, and seek out all available job vacancies, your chances for employment increases substantially.  

Careers and Internships with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is primarily responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats. They manage federal programs related to migratory birds, endangered species, interjurisdictional fish and marine mammals, and inland sport fisheries.

They are a division of the Department of the Interior and employ 8,160 specialists and offers more than 70 careers to choose from. Positions are available in every state and U.S. territory.


If you enjoy working outdoors and with wildlife there are many opportunities for you to explore. This Federal service performs the following functions:

  • Acquires, protects and manages unique ecosystems necessary to sustain fish and wildlife.
  • Operates a National Fish Hatchery System.
  • Protects fish and wildlife from dislocation or destruction of their habitats.
  • Provides financial and professional technical assistance to States to enhance their fish and wildlife resources.
  • Offers enforcement, management and professional technical assistance to other agencies.
  • Disseminates and enforces regulations for the protection of wildlife.
  • Conducts programs and provides professional technical assistance to other agencies for the proper use and protection of fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Educates the American public through high quality fish and wildlife-oriented experiences.
  • Communicates information essential for public awareness and understanding of the importance of fish and wildlife resources.


Openings are available in law enforcement, administrative fields, budget analysts, IT, geographers, wildlife refuse managers, fish biologists, hydrologists, engineering maintenance, architects, surveyors, and various other occupations.

There are many jobs currently open nationwide and in the US Territories.


When you identify a job announcement of interest, print out a copy and follow the detailed guidance provided. If you have questions there is a human resource specialist listed towards the end of the document that can answer your questions.

A federal application and resume is considerably different than the standard one page private sector resume. Submit all required forms and information listed in the job announcement and review the application process before submitting your application. A sample federal style resume is available for you to use as a template for your application.


There are many reasons to consider federal employment. The average annual federal worker’s compensation, pay plus benefits, is $125,049 compared to just $70,081 for the private sector. Average salary exceeds $90,000 and new hires can receive student loan payoff assistance, relocation and cash incentives for hard-to-fill positions. The benefits and retirement packages are exceptional. A larger percentage of professionals and fewer service and clerical positions contribute to higher average salaries.

Is A Federal Job Right for You?

Typically, over 10,000 job announcements are open to the public on a recurring basis and tens of thousands more for federal employees, the armed forces, students, individuals with disabilities, the Peace Corp and more. There are plenty of jobs to explore if you take the time to seek them out.

The federal government is essentially a central clearing house for jobs in a vast majority of occupations stateside and overseas. A one-stop resource where you can explore opportunities and apply for jobs of interest online.

Where They Are

The majority of jobs are in major metropolitan areas. However, you will find opportunities in most communities if you look for them. After leaving the military, I was accepted for a field specialist position with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at the Phillipsburg Airport in central Pennsylvania, a small town of about 5,000 at the time.  

I wasn’t the only federal employee in this area, there was a dozen or more FAA personnel in the flight service station plus a half dozen other specialists. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government that has offices and employees in most communities. Add to postal employee population, Social Security offices in the district, VA facilities, and others, the number of jobs ads up fast.

Start Your Search

To find a federal job after I was discharged from active duty in the 1970s, I had to visit the local federal building and review job announcements posted on the personnel office’s walls! There was no one to talk to, if you found a job of interest, you wrote your name, address, phone number, and the job announcement number on a request form and put it into a mail slot in the wall.

It often took weeks to receive the information packet and often times I received the job announcement after it closed. It took two years to find my first competitive service federal job through this archaic and frustrating process.

Today, with the internet, job hunting is much easier and streamlined. There are a number of ways to navigate through government job vacancy announcements. I prefer using the following service first.

Search by occupational title on The advantage of using this site is its ease of use and the added information provided. Searched Job titles allow you to click on the Job Category description providing you with the following information: (This is the most comprehensive information available in one concise location.)

  • Pay rates for the occupation
  • Job description
  • Agencies that hire this occupation
  • Occupation pay distribution
  • Occupational pay trends

Apply Online

When you find a position of interest, click on APPLY NOW, it will take you to the job announcement and application process on OPM’s USAJOBS.GOV site. Follow the instructions to submit your application and resume.

Take These Steps When Applying

  • Print out the job announcement, many don’t do this. It has all of the information you need to apply including the HR specialist contact information. If you have questions, they can answer them for you.  
  • Read the announcement top to bottom, if you neglect to submit all required forms or required information your application could be rejected.
  • Review the federal application process to understand the differences between private and federal sector applications.
  • Prepare your federal resume using our detailed guidance offline first; spell, grammar check and take your time to show how you gained the required skills and meet the qualifications for the position.


Tens of thousands of high paying, secure, and benefit loaded federal jobs are available. After leaving the military, I applied for two jobs. One with the airlines and the other with the FAA. I was 25 at the time and my wife and I discussed the options. I decided to go with federal service because of their exceptional benefits and early retirement plan. It was a wise choice; the airline went bankrupt ten years later and I retired from federal service at age 55 with 35 years of service including my military time. Everyone has their unique reasons for accepting a job, I was looking for job security and retirement at an early age. Whatever your motivation, federal jobs are some of the most lucrative sought-after jobs in the world.

Federal Job Hunting Tips – Your Roadmap to Landing a High Paying Government Job

Many apply for federal jobs each year. How can you stand out from the crowd when you apply? There are many ways for you to get at the head of the line if you know a few of the tricks of the trade.  Many applicants simply don’t follow the explicit “How to Apply” directions that are available with every federal job announcement and end up submitting inferior applications that don’t make the grade; literally. With the new Category Rating application evaluation process if you don’t make it to the “Best Qualified” list you won’t be considered for the position.

Why is it that some who land jobs with Uncle Sam have half the experience, education, and special qualifications that you have — and you’re still looking? Many who approach the federal sector fail because they didn’t take the time to understand the federal hiring process. Others get frustrated by the required paperwork and give up prematurely.

Don’t let this happen to you. Take your time and learn how to apply before going online and submitting your first federal resume and application. Many simply go to and start submitting their resumes without knowing the significant differences between a private sector and federal resume and lose out in the process.  The following tips that can help you make the interview list:

  • Looking for federal jobs takes time and patience and it is best to apply early and often.  Applications can take six to eight weeks or even longer for processing after the closing date. It can take even longer if written tests are required. From the time you first identify an opening to actual interviews and hiring can take months in some cases even under recent hiring reform initiatives.  There is a new twist to this scenario, many agencies are issuing federal job announcements with short open periods, often a  week or less,  because they receive so many applications. It will still take time after the closing date to process and rate all applications. However, if you don’t check for vacancies frequently you may miss out on good opportunities.
  • Many apply for only one job announcement. Seek out all available job vacancies and continue to send in applications with every opportunity. Don’t limit yourself to This excellent site does advertise the majority of all federal jobs, however, you may be passing up job opportunities in your own back yard by not visiting individual agency recruitment sites in your area.  Also review consolidated job listings that include federal, state, and private sector job vacancies for your occupation.
  • Read the job announcements thoroughly. These important documents provide all of the information you need to apply including qualifications required for the position. When I say read it thoroughly I mean word for word and don’t stop if at first you feel you don’t meet the qualifications. Many jobs, especially in the administrative and management fields, often require a BS degree OR 3 years of general experience for an entry level job.  Many applicants read BS degree and immediately think they won’t qualify; keep reading and you may be surprised that your work experience is as valuable, in many cases, as a 4 year college degree.
  • Prepare a professional and comprehensive federal resume and application. Too many applicants take shortcuts and revert back to the private sector resume format ─ a HUGE mistake.  The most popular application method today is the federal resume, for a number of reasons. First, most people are familiar with resumes and secondly, with the increase in online submissions, the resume format makes the most sense because it is easy to copy and paste from your federal  resume into online resume builders.  The differences are significant. Considerably more detail is required for the federal resume and if you don’t provide the required federal resume information  your application may be rejected. At the very least you risk not being placed in the highest category rating and less likely to be referred to the selecting official.
  • Prepare for the job interview. Today, the selecting official can interview as few or as many applicants in the “Best Qualified ” list as they desire.  Learn about the agency by visiting their web site and learning about their mission and current activities. Most publish press releases that will also help you understand their mission and responsibilities.  Even under the best of conditions, interviews are often intimidating, and going to an interview without knowing the “rules” can be downright frightening. Understanding the  interview process will help you throughout your career and just knowing what to expect will improve your mental stability as well.

In the final analysis, agencies hire someone who has the abilities and talents for the position.  It is up to the applicant to demonstrate they are the right selection by submitting a comprehensive and thorough application package and by doing well in the interview. Don’t leave the interview to chance. Proper preparation can mean the difference between success and failure.

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.