What is the Annual Salary of My Federal Colleagues?

By on November 21, 2011 in Current Events, Human Resources with 99 Comments

Editor’s Note: Based on questions we have received from readers about using the database in order to quickly locate information, we have updated this article. A number of readers were wondering how to find a person’s name in the database as they were not able to locate the person they were seeking. Check the addition below under the bold, red headline “How to Find a Person’s Name” if that is the portion of the FedsDataCenter.com site that you are wanting to use.

How much do you know about the federal workforce?

This new database now available to FedSmith readers will quickly provide information from the amount of the annual salary received by an individual employee to broader categories of information.

For example, where are most federal employees located and is there a difference in their average salary levels?

We often see comments from readers that the average federal salary level is misleading because the salaries are so much higher in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

If you are a federal employee and want to make more money, the best place to work, without a doubt, is in the District of Columbia or the Washington, DC suburbs are very close behind. In fact, the areas around Washington, DC are now the richest areas in the country, supplanting areas which rely more on the private sector for the economy.

Federal salaries in the District of Columbia are higher than any state in the country. There are also more federal employees working there.

Here are the states (or, in the case of Washington, DC, the city without a state) with the largest number of federal employees:

  1. District of Columbia: 162,218
  2. Virginia: 141,603
  3. Texas: 139,160
  4. Maryland: 123,161
  5. Florida: 87,165

This will not surprise many readers: The states with the largest number of federal employees are also the states with some of the largest average federal employee salaries. Here is the average salaries for federal employees in these states. As you can see, the federal employees living in Washington, DC do pretty well in the income department–and those Washington suburbs in Maryland and Virginia also do well as the states of Maryland and Virginia are near the top of the list. Here are the average salaries for fiscal year 2010 in the five states with the most federal employees:

  1. District of Columbia: $99,291.31
  2. Maryland: $97,852.91
  3. Virginia: $96,588.44
  4. Texas: $74,173.80
  5. Florida: $71,137.40

Here are the states with the lowest average federal employee salary (for 2010):

  1. Wyoming: $56,530.02
  2. Montana: $57,620.85
  3. Idaho: $58,334.93
  4. Utah: $58,337.82
  5. South Dakota: $58,456.23

Washington, DC not only has the most federal employees, it also has the highest paid ones. Here are the states with the highest average federal employee salary levels for fiscal year 2010:

  1. District of Columbia: $99,291.31
  2. Maryland: $97853
  3. Virginia: $96588
  4. New Hampshire: $82928
  5. Connecticut: $80170

Who Are the Highest Paid Federal Employees?

Federal employee salaries are public information. There are exceptions where the names are withheld by the Office of Personnel Management for national security or other reasons. But, with these exceptions as noted in our new data site, FedsDataCenter.com, you can find out how much an individual federal employee makes or how much a group of federal employees make.

For example, what if you want to find out who the highest paid employees are in the highest paid area of the country?

It isn’t hard. Keep in mind, before sending in comments that some people are not listed that the information available excludes a number of federal employees such as those working for intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Using this example, go to “Search Federal Pay Rates” and select as the state the “District of Columbia.” (See example image below; you can do this with any state but DC is the example we have selected to illustrate how to use the system.) When you click on “search,” you will quickly see the results of your search. You will see the the highest paid employees in the District of Columbia work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The highest paid is a medical officer with an an annual salary of $373,070.00. If you scroll down, you will come to someone who does not work for the VA. That is the highest paid federal employee in the database outside of the VA. He works for the Federal Aviation Administration in program management and makes $262,104.00.

Searching by Agency and Title

You can also do a search by title. For example, who is the highest paid person in the federal government in the area of Human Resources Management? You may also be interested in the average salary for those working for Uncle Sam in the area of Human Resources Management (HR) or the HR folks working in your agency and how they compare.

If you are seeking another job in the field of HR, this could be a good starting point to find places where you may want to apply for a job.

To find out, just type in “Human Resources Management” in the title box for searching federal employees and search all states. You will see a list of hundreds of people sorted by salary. The highest paid person on this list is the Human Capital Managing Director for the Office of Thrift Supervision. And, if you want to see what everyone makes in this office, you can do a search by agency and by title. The results show that there are 16 people in this agency under “Human Resources Management” and that their average salary is $137,928.31. As you may have guessed, this agency does not have a government budget. They are paid by the banks that they regulate along with other agencies such as Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve System, and the National Credit Union Administration.

Example search form using title search of “Human Resources Management”

Not surprisingly, the Office of Thrift Supervision has been listed as one of the best places to work in the federal government. And, while their HR people are well compensated, the agency only employs about 1000 people.

No doubt, there are a variety of ways the database can be used, including those who just want to look up the official salary of a neighbor, former spouse, or the person in the cubicle next to you.

How to Find a Person’s Name

To find a person’s name and salary, go to the portion of the FedsDataCenter.com site for searching federal pay or USPS pay.

The program requires entering the person’s last name first in order to locate the person you are seeking.

Next, enter the person’s first name. This can be tricky. For example, if you are looking for a person you know as “Steve” that may not be how the database has listed his name. It may be listed as “Steven” or as “Stephen,” for example, or it could even just list a first initial, “S” in this example. You will not be given any results if the name you enter is different from how it is contained in the database.

The search will also return partial matches on names. So, if you aren’t sure how a person’s name may be listed, you can enter part of it. Entering “Wi” for example will match names such as “Williams,” “Williamson,” or even matches it finds on the first name such as “Jones William.” (Hint: Do not enter a comma between the last and the first name.)

If the person’s last name is an uncommon one, you can just enter the person’s last name to find everyone with that name in the database.

Here is an example.

I have a friend who works for the federal government with the last name of “Hightower.” It is an easy name to remember and to spell but nowhere as common as “Smith” or “Johnson.” By entering the person’s last name, I will see every federal employee in the database with that last name.

But, to narrow down the search, I also know that my friend works in Alabama. I can therefore enter his last name only in the search engine and I can also enter the State where he works. Twenty-five names show up when I search for everyone named “Hightower.” But, by entering the State name, I am given the name of the five federal employees with that
last name in the State of Alabama.

Search by Title

Job titles can also be confusing. Agencies do not always use the same job titles. As this is a portion of the database that has established categories, you will need to use one of the job titles that has been used to categorize the jobs performed by federal employees.

The database will help narrow your search. For example, if I type in “accountant,” I will not see any results. However, after typing in the letters “Accou,” I will see the titles with these letters that are used in the database. If I am only looking for federal employees who work in the accounting profession within the Office of Personnel Management, I can narrow my search to this universe of federal employees quickly.

Some readers expressed frustration because their agency was not listed. Agencies may not be listed as you may think they should be. The database will often help with your search. For example, if I type in National Aeronautics and Space Administration, I will not find any responses. By typing in only “NASA,” will find find “NASA Headquarters listed.

What if I want to find engineers at Langley Research Center, which is part of NASA? In this instance, the name of the agency is listed under “Langley Research Center.” By typing in only “Langley,” and selecting the type of engineer position I am looking for, the program will display the results.

So, in other words, if you type in the name of the agency in a way that is not contained in the database, you will not find any results.

We hope this explanation will make the database easier to use in your search. You should also use the “site help” feature to learn how to more efficiently locate information in the fedsdatabase.

We hope you find this new data service from FedSmith.com to be interesting and useful.

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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