Civil service careers: What you need to know

Want a job that makes a difference? A career in the civil service could be for you…

A job in the civil service is ideal for those who want to help out within their community. Most jobs don’t offer this opportunity, but working in the civil service, the actions you take and the decisions you make, could directly result in making people’s lives better. 

If you’ve considered a job in the civil service but haven’t known where to start, or if you’re a graduate who is dreaming of building a career in the civil service, here’s everything you need: 


What is the civil service? 

The civil service is a sector of the government that consists of skilled professionals who are employed to help carry out policies effectively. This could cover a number of different roles, including paying pensions and benefits, offering employment advice and services, running prisons or issuing driving licences. 


Why work in the civil service?

Historically, working as a civil servant was seen as a boring job However, there are so many benefits to building a civil service career. Firstly, the work you do can actually improve people’s lives. There’s no bigger sense of satisfaction than knowing you’ve helped someone. 

It’s also possible to move jobs within the civil service, or transfer to different departments, so you can easily gain new skills and apply your current soft skills to new roles. Flexible or hybrid working is typically on offer, so it’s possible to do your job and still maintain a good work-life balance. Finally, civil service jobs tend to pay better than the average industry salary, and often come with a good pension scheme as part of the package. 

Hybrid working: What you need to know


What civil service careers are available? 

The civil service is made up of 25 professions (including finance, digital & IT, tax, etc.), so there are numerous careers on offer for those who are newly qualified or those who are looking for a career change

Some examples of civil service jobs you could take on include working for a government department in one of the following roles:

Career change CV template


How much can I earn in the civil service?

Civil service jobs are graded, with junior roles placed in Grade AA or AO, middle management positions classed as EO (Executive Officer) or SEO (Senior Executive Officer), and senior roles achieving a Grade 6 or 7. The civil service doesn’t openly publish salaries for each grade level, so always check on the job description or with the hiring manager.

However, for context, for junior roles like administrators or assistants, you can expect to be paid between £20,000 to £23,000 per year. For middle-management positions (manager or supervisor) you can expect to earn between £27,000 to £35,000. Senior roles, such as directors, tend to earn £70,000 + per year. 

How to: Negotiate a pay rise


What do civil service employers look for?

The skills (also known as personal qualities) civil service employers look for in candidates will depend on the job they’re hiring for, and these will be mentioned in the job description. But, you’ll stand out from other candidates if you can demonstrate some or all of these skills in your CV

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Proactive 
  • Confidence in making decisions
  • Organised
  • Interest in public affairs
  • Resourceful 

Five personal qualities valued by employers

Free personal development courses and training


How to start a civil service career 

There’s a lot of competition for civil service jobs, so here’s our expert advice to help you kick start your civil service career: 


Regularly check for jobs

Civil service jobs are advertised on the .gov website, in local papers, on local job boards and on To make your search easier, you can register your details on and set up a job alert for roles you’re interested in. When jobs are added to the site that match, you’ll be notified straight away, so you can be the first to apply. 


Refresh your CV

Make sure the information on your CV reflects the job you’re applying for. If you’re struggling to identify them, refer back to the job description to see what skills are needed, and be sure to include some of these on your CV. Pay extra attention to your personal statement, as this is your chance to show the hiring manager why you’re a great candidate for the job. 

Tailoring your CV: What you need to know

Personal statement examples


Tailor your cover letter

You may be asked to submit a cover letter along with your CV or application for a civil service job. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to explain why you’re interested in the job, what skills you can bring to the role and what your future career goals or aspirations are. Be sure to refer back to some of the skills mentioned in the job description and back up any points you make with examples. Following the STAR method will help you to get your point across clearly. 

How to: Write a cover letter

Cover letter examples and samples


Get qualified

While no specific qualifications are needed to work in the civil service, basic numeracy and literacy skills are required. If you want to brush up on these skills, or others, like communication or problem-solving, for example, we have a vast selection of courses that can help. 

View all courses on


Don’t give up 

You may not be offered a civil service job straight away, but don’t give up! Keep applying and perfecting your application until you get offered the civil service job of your dreams. 



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