Which Federal Jobs Paying Over $100,000 Employ the Most People?

Most people want to maximize their income. How many federal employees make over $100,000? Is that number going up or down? Which federal jobs pay the highest salaries? How have these jobs changed over the past several years?

Here are the number of federal employees who made more than $100,000 per year over the past several years. The trends may surprise some readers who may have been expecting the number to go up each year. In reality, however, the data show that the number has decreased in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Since 2010, there has been an increase of more than 9% of federal employees who make more than $100,000 per year but the trend has been down for the past two years. Note that the FedsDataCenter.com federal salary database does not include employees of the Department of Defense or agencies involved in national security as determined by OPM and other agencies.

Total Employees Fiscal Year Percentage Change
282,605 2010 N/A
296,988 2011 5.09%
417,783 2012 40.67%
375,843 2013 -10.04%
308,734 2014 -17.86%
 Percentage change 2010-2014 9.25%

To find out the positions occupied by these higher paying federal employees, FedSmith compiled data on the individual federal salaries, by year, from 2010 – 2014 using the data from FedsDataCenter.com.

For example, here are the number of people in federal jobs, by position, with salaries over $100,000 in 2014. Medical officer and general attorney have the highest number of federal employees in jobs paying over $100,000. The occupation and the number of people in each occupation are based on data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Federal jobs with salaries over $100k – 2014

 Position  Number With This Job
 MEDICAL OFFICER  29,070
 GENERAL ATTORNEY  22,515
 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT  20,325
 MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATION AND PROGRAM  18,791
 MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAM ANALYSIS  17,532
 AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL  13,991
 NURSE  11,724
 PROGRAM MANAGEMENT  7,845
 GENERAL ENGINEERING  7,828
 PHARMACIST  7,669
 GENERAL HEALTH SCIENCE  5,358
 GENERAL BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY  5,312
 HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT  4,860
 PATENT EXAMINING  4,758
 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION  4,649
 CONTRACTING  4,501
 GEN NATURAL RESOURCES MGT AND BIO SCI  4,434
 AEROSPACE ENGINEERING  4,133
 ACCOUNTING  3,836
 GENERAL PHYSICAL SCIENCE  3,807

As one might expect, some of these federal jobs are going to be confined to a small number of agencies that use the skills required. Other jobs can be found throughout the federal government. For example, human resources management jobs are found in all agencies. Medical officer positions at this level are largely located in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For comparison, how have these jobs changed over the past few years? Since 2010, there have been three years of a federal pay freeze in place while some agencies have expanded and others have not expanded, or at least not expanded as fast as others.

The table which follows displays a listing of federal positions with federal employees who made over $100,000 in 2010 and the number of people in these positions.

There are several changes in the list from 2010 to 2014. Two categories of jobs are no longer on the list in 2014 that were included in 2010: Transportation Specialist and Financial Institution Examining. Two new categories are now on the list: Patent Examining and Criminal Investigation.

The only occupation that is still on the list but with a smaller number of federal employees is Aerospace Engineering. In 2010, there were 4,312 federal employees in this occupation making over $100,000. In 2014, there were 4,133.

Information Technology Management has moved up on the list. In 2010, there were 19,141 federal employees in this occupation and it was 4th on the list. In 2014, it moved up to 3rd on the list with 20,325 federal employees.

While Medical Officer and General Attorney remained as the top two occupations on both lists, the number of lawyers in this ranking dropped from 23,703 to 22,515. The number of Medical Officers increased its lead in the top spot as the number went up from 25,994 to 29,070.

Federal jobs with salaries over $100k – 2010

Position Number With This Job
MEDICAL OFFICER 25,994
GENERAL ATTORNEY 23,703
MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATION AND PROGRAM 19,324
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT 19,141
MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAM ANALYSIS 17,724
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL 12,949
NURSE 9,408
PROGRAM MANAGEMENT 8,877
GENERAL ENGINEERING 7,790
PHARMACIST 6,392
GENERAL BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY 6,324
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT 4,793
GENERAL HEALTH SCIENCE 4,315
AEROSPACE ENGINEERING 4,312
CONTRACTING 4,190
GEN NATURAL RESOURCES MGT AND BIO SCI 4,100
GENERAL PHYSICAL SCIENCE 4,027
ACCOUNTING 3,868
TRANSPORTATION SPECIALIST 3,380
FINANCIAL INSTITUTION EXAMINING 3,131

 

© 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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