Locating the Salary of an Individual Federal Employee

By on April 29, 2013 in Pay & Benefits with 51 Comments

Note: An updated version of this article is available with details on searching the latest available fiscal year of salary data.

If you want to find out how much a particular federal employee makes in a yearly salary, can that be done?

For most federal employees, you can quickly locate the information. FedSmith has updated the yearly salary figures to include the 2012 fiscal year. A number of federal employees have not been included in this list as the information was excluded by their agency or the Office of Personnel Management for various reasons.

The latest Postal Service salaries are in a separate database but can be searched in the same way.

Are you one of the people in the database? Here is how to find out.

Locating a Specific Federal Employee

Assume, for example, you want to find a federal employee named “John Smith”. Perhaps you do not know the agency where he works or how the agency may have listed the name of the agency or subdivision. To try to locate this individual, first go to the listing of individual federal employee salaries. Once you are there, select the year to search, such as 2012, to find the latest data.

Enter the person’s last name and first name: Smith, John and click on the “go” button. You will find 91 people in the database with this name (see the image below for an example of what this search looks like using the search form on FedsDataCenter.com).

Image showing how to use the 2012 Federal Employee Salary Search

You can then click on the “salary” column and you will see a list that shows those named “John Smith” starting with the lowest salary. Click on the salary column a second time, you and you will see those named “John Smith” starting with the highest salary. For example, perhaps you are looking for a John Smith who is a medical officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is likely to be a person with a high salary. Sorting the list with the highest salary being displayed first, you will see a “John Smith” who is a Medical Officer with the VA in Birmingham, Alabama and a salary of $211,267.00. You can also display up to 100 names on a page. In this instance, displaying 100 names will show you all 100 people in the database with the name of “John Smith” starting with the person receiving the highest salary.

The image below shows an example of result data sorted by salary in descending order:

Image showing 2012 Salary Search Columns sorted by salary in descending order

Searching for a Federal Employee by Occupation

Perhaps you are interested in locating a number of federal employees who are classified as a “General Attorney” and who make over $200,000 per year.

To start your search in the FedSmith database, enter the term “General Attorney” (without the quotation marks) in the field labeled “Occupation” and select the year 2012. You will find 32,132 individuals in the database. Next, sort on the salary column from highest to lowest salary (by clicking on the salary column twice). You can choose to see up to 100 people displayed on your page at the same time. You will see that the highest paid “General Attorney” in the database makes $259,500.00 per year and works for the Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, DC.

You will also see that there are more than 100 federal employees in the category of “General Attorney” that make more than $200,000 per year. At the bottom of the page, click on “next” to advance to the next 100 people on this list. To go through the list of people who make more than $200,000 per year in this category, you will have to go through seven pages as there are about 650 people who meet your search criteria.

If, for example, you wanted to find out how many of federal employees with the “General Attorney” title are in the Securities and Exchange Commission, you can enter this agency name in the “Agency” field at the top of the page. When you click on the “go” button, you will see a list of 1679 people on the list. You can again sort them from highest to lowest salary and you will find that the highest paid General Attorney in the SEC has a salary of $230,700.00. To see how many of these individuals make more than $200,000 per year, click on the “next” button near the bottom of the page after sorting by salary level and you will find that about 325 of these individuals make more than $200,000 per year.

The database will try to assist you in locating those in a specific occupation. For example, typing in “human resources” will give you a number of options. Some of the options will not have any names attached to them. However, the term “human resources management” will give you a result of about 22,500 names. You can subsequently sort these names by salary level or agency name to narrow down your list. Sorting this list by salary level will reveal that the highest paid person in this category has a salary of $241,820.00 and works for the Comptroller of the Currency.

Searching by Location

You can also search by location. For example, if you want to find all federal employees in Miami, just type that city name in the “location” field and select “Miami”. You will find several options but Miami is one option. Selecting that option, and clicking on “go” will show that there are 6349 people in the database in Miami. You can sort this list by salary level, occupation, agency, etc. to find the information you are seeking.

Selecting a location

Why Are There So Many High Salaries?

We frequently see comments from readers that contend the average federal employee salary that is often publicized cannot be accurate. Many of these comments are made by people based on experience in their own agencies. And, in many of these agencies, employees are often all on the traditional federal pay system.

It may surprise many readers to know that there are a number of federal employees with higher salaries than Members of Congress. In searching through our database, you will find thousands of federal employees with salaries higher than $200,000 or even $300,000 per year. Many of these federal employees are Medical Officers with the Department of Veterans Affairs which appears to be hiring a number of medical officials and there are approximately 1000 people in these jobs with a salary of $300,000 to more than $398,000 per year. There has been a 5.145% increase in the number of these positions contained in the database since 2010 (21,241 in fiscal year 2010 to 22,336 in 2012).

However, you will also find hundreds of employees who are employed by smaller agencies that are outside the more typical federal pay system with higher salaries than those in the more typical general schedule pay system.

In 2012, according to the information in this database, 29,222 federal employees make more than members of Congress ($174,000). Please note that there are a number of federal employees not included in the database for a variety of reasons.

For example, if you search under the occupation of “human resources management” and sort by salary level, you will find the top 100 people in this category make between $241,820.00 and $168,892.00. Most (but not all) of these individuals work for agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Office of Comptroller of the Currency or Securities and Exchange Commission.

The current salary (2013) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. This means that some federal employees in the human resources field make more than the leaders of the Senate ($193,400) or the leadership of the House where the Majority and Minority leaders make $193,400 per year and the Speaker of the House makes $223,500.

Most federal employees will not fall in the upper echelons of federal employee salary levels. Working for a few select agencies will probably lead to a higher average salary before retiring. In any event, these high salaries are why the average federal salary figure (that generates complaints from many readers who argue the figure cannot be accurate) are so high.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse the database to see if your name is included and how much the federal government reports that your colleagues are receiving.

© 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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  1. Its You says:

    Can’t wait for the next shutdown

  2. irene says:

    what Is the salary for a nurse tech who wants to work in Va hospital in Bronx new york

  3. John Franklin says:

    Pretty disgusting that us lowly federal workers, rather than simply the policy makers and the politicians, have our salaries published.

  4. Davesandbrook says:

    The database has some rather gross errors. Several friends and coworkers have a plus/minus 30% error or more.

  5. rjmahoney66 says:

    Anyone who knows anything about math knows that using the average – mean – gives a misleading view because it is skewed by high or low numbers. A more realistic view of federal salaries is to look at the medium salary. Using the average is purposely deceptive.

    • HRGuy71 says:

      This article appears to just focus on the release of data and doesn’t quote an average salary. In any event, the Washington Post reports that the median federal salary is now $74,714. As reported in a few different reports, this is below the average figure (about $4000 below as of Sept. 2012). It is not clear why a “purposefully deceptive” action of using an average instead of a median figure would only reflect a difference of a couple of hundred dollars. Most reports show about the same difference. My guess is that many people don’t like seeing the average figure just don’t like seeing the data as it is not in their economic interest but, the reality is, median is not much different.


      • LikeBuffaloWingsALittleTooMuch says:

        The problem with reporting just median and/or average salaries, is that careless thinkers will make generalizations as though every worker had that salary. That is, they carelessly translate “median” or “average” into “highly typical” before making arguments related to those salaries.

        I typically vote Republican, but I believe this is a sin of which Republican congressmen are particularly guilty.

      • whoodoo says:

        @HRGuy – Above and beyond all that, salaries like positions, in any agency tend to be extremely hierarchical in organization and pay – that is, many at the lower positions and relatively few at the top – positively skewed distributions when plotted as number-of-employees or number-receiving-a-specific-salary as a function of salary. That leads to the mode (or the modal salary with salaries being expressed as categories with a range of say $5K) as being the best indicator of central tendency. Median would be the second best and mean or average being the worst.

  6. 26yrfedup says:

    Please publish all of the corporate contributors to each Congress member, if you have the space

  7. 14yrFed says:

    Hmmm, I can’t find my info. Does that mean that the Agency that I have worked for all these years really isn’t a federal agency, and I have been lied too for so long. Maybe I should tell that to all the people throwing rotten fruit at me every morning on my way in.

    • LikeBuffaloWingsALittleTooMuch says:

      I believe DoD is exempted for security reasons, in case that matters. I think maybe for FBI and the intelligence agencies as well, but I’m just guessing.

  8. PublicCitiZen says:

    I don’t have a problem with the salaries being public.
    It’s the names attached that is the problem.
    The taxpayers have a right to know how there money is spent, and that includes salaries, but how does attaching personal information to that benefit anyone?

    • LikeBuffaloWingsALittleTooMuch says:

      There are pros and cons. By attaching a name, we can have public debates such as “Joe is a moron who spends all day at the dog track. His high salary is unjustified.” The downside is that it means a civil servant has less privacy than a private-sector worker, adding yet another reason for persons to avoid federal careers.

    • LaborAttorney says:

      This is what we signed up for.

      • PublicCitiZen says:

        Well, I don’t know about signed up for, since it was implemented long after I was hired.
        But I won’t be resigning because of it. 😉

    • Rich39 says:

      Most federal, state, county and city budgets are public. People just don’t want to search for them. Then when they find the budgets they don’t understand them. Some people don’t want to pay taxes, but the same people want everything given to them. Free this and free that.

  9. FedUpFed says:

    I have been a federal employee for 19 years and have never been late for work and earn the $ I am paid every day like many of you people who work in the private sector. There are many services that the federal government provides like social security, safe food, safe travel, etc. Which of these services do you want to eliminate or not pay the employees. I feel posting my salary for all to see is a criminal offense violating my privacy. I am not ashamed of my salary, my peers in the private sector make as much or more. How would you like your financial information posted for people to steal you identity with? Thank God I am eligible to retire next year so I can quit being public enemy No 1.

  10. Pat Fucile says:

    I find the posting of our names and salaries a quite disturbing. Isn’t this distributing PII information? Now identity thieves have our names, how much we make, the state we live in………….

    • HRGuy71 says:

      I am not sure how long this information has been in the public domain or on this website but the information has been distributed at least since 2008 when it was published by a paper in New Jersey by Gannett.

      • Pat Fucile says:

        I’ve only known about 2 years being posted on a website. This is making info way too accessible by identity thieves. I work with PII all the time, and if I released info like this, there would be h*** to pay.

        • HRGuy71 says:

          This one was available at least as early as 2008. http://php.app.com/fed_employe

          Apparently, they were also available sometime before 2005 and many available as long as 200 years ago according to an article on this site:


          • PrivacyRules says:

            Just because it’s been done in the past, doesn’t mean it should continue to be done. I agree that this could give identity thieves a lot of info to work with.

          • Pat Fucile says:

            It doesn’t make a difference if it was done in the past. This information is still considered PII: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P

            “NIST Special Publication 800-122
            defines PII as “any information about an individual maintained by an
            agency, including (1) any information that can be used to distinguish or
            trace an individual‘s identity, such as name, social security number,
            date and place of birth, mother‘s maiden name, or biometric records; and
            (2) any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual,
            such as medical, educational, financial, and employment information.”

            Since this lists employment information (job, pay grade, and salary) and salary can be considered financial information as well. This opens up every federal employee to identity thieves.

            Like I said, I work with PII. We are told to protect it like crazy……….not give it out like Halloween candy.

          • HRGuy71 says:

            Perhaps you have a valid philosophical argument. As a practical matter, the courts do not agree with you. For example, in this case, OPM was found to be justified in withholding the information on some federal employees but not the majority of them:

          • Pat Fucile says:

            Bad example! That link you gave was just over a listing of employees and their duty stations, one that didn’t include their salary. When you link it with financial information, it’s a PII violation.

      • Rich39 says:

        Started around 1992.

  11. redauburn says:

    I think that everyone that gets public funds should have their funds published and that means people getting food stamps and section 8 and disability or any other funds that the tax payer pays for. Look at those 2 boys who bombed the Marathon, they received public funds. Great to know our taxes paid for them to live in housing, fed them, clothed them and helped them and they repay by bombing. Public funds and records should be transparent . Let’s start a petition to bring that to light.

    • sumo says:

      That’s what I am saying…if we have a right to know where our money is going, down to who specifically it is going to, we have a right to know who it is COMING FROM, specifically.

      • HRGuy71 says:

        Good luck with that argument.

        • sumo says:

          Agreed. I’m merely pointing out the hipocrisy of those who say releasing names and salaries of federal employees is needed for “transparency” so the public can know the details of the Federal budget. But as almost anyone who handles $ knows, a budget has two sides, the expenses side and the income side. Both are equally important. I’m argung that the amount of “waste” that can be uncovered by publishing federal salaries is far, far less than the amount of tax fraud that could be uncovered if everyone’s tax returns (or lack thereof) were public information. But of course, most of those screaming about how federal employee’s salaries should be public would scream bloody murder if their own tax returns were made public. Will it ever happen? Of course not. But at least it serves to make the point about how unfair the release of federal employee salary information is.

    • 2327 says:

      Once paid for services rendered, the funds are no longer public funds but private funds. This is an invasion of privacy and a class action suit should commence.

      Its ok to publish salary schedules that tell the reader the number of employees that are on each step or pay grade.

    • Marilynn Reeves says:

      I’m with you on this one.If you depend on public aid then it should be public taxpayer knowlege. Don’t like your name out there get off of public assistiance. You know at one time this country did not have welfare. We had families and churchs to help. Now few families and not many going to church—WHAT A SHAME.

    • GiGe says:

      Public assistance should be a path to independence, not a path to dependence! However, it is just the opposite.

    • Pa says:

      I would like to see everyone’s salary posted. So many people collect public assistance – get free schooling for their children – but make good money under the table.
      Time to report the thrives.

  12. UnlimitedContractorSalaries says:

    Every individual or employee of any corporation, business entity, or contractor which receives a single dollar of taxpayer money should have their financial records, taxes, salaries, and all incomes made public. After all, the taxpayers need to know how every penny of their money is being spent. We do want to be unbiased, fair, and thorough in accounting for every taxpayer dollar, don’t we? I am particularly interested in my taxpayer dollars paying mega contractor salaries!

    • sumo says:

      Not to be repetitive, but if we have the right to know where every penny of our tax money is GOING, we have the right to know where every penny COMING FROM. So, if we have a right to the names of the people getting our money, we have a right to the names of the people providing our money.

  13. Sumo says:

    Taxes that pay these salaries are detirmined by information collected by or submitted to the IRS by individual citizens. If that information is fraudelent or inaccurate then the US treasury could be missing out on Billions. So isn’t it is the best interest of the public to be shown individual tax return information for EVERYONE, including private sector folks? That way, if I know my neighbor has a side business on the weekend, I would be doing my part to solve the nation’s financial woes by verifying that he is reporting this as income every year. Bottom line, if you believe that federal employee’s salaries should be public, then almost by default you MUST believe that every citizen’s tax returns should be public..right?

    • theinnerring says:

      you go first.

    • supercalifragilistic says:

      Nice. So you can report your neighbours for not reporting their income to the government starlin and Hitler would be proud of you

      • PublicCitiZen says:

        Google “irony” and “sarcasm”.

        • sumo says:

          Thanks PublicCitiZen, for being one of the few who seemed to understand that I was trying to make a point rather than proposing a real action. For the record, I don’t believe that citizens should be spying on each other. Financial information should be private…including salalries of federal employees.

  14. HRGuy71 says:

    One result of working for Uncle Sam where salaries are paid through taxes: The salary information is public.

    • Tonya99 says:

      That should include contractor and military (including housing and subsistence allowances) salaries as well since they, too, are paid through taxes.