Average Federal Salary by Agency Size

How does your salary compare to your colleagues in large and small agencies? Which agency (that most people have never heard of) has an average of more than $165,000?

Average federal employee salaries are always a point of contention. In fact, different government agencies calculate the average salary of federal employees differently with the result that the numbers do not match. You can find the salary for an individual federal employee at FedsDataCenter.com. (See GAO: Federal Pay Studies Vary Widely)

Here are the latest average salary figures from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as of March 2012. These figures do not include any amount for benefits—just the average salary for current federal employees. Also, these figures include federal employees at all locations including those in foreign countries and U.S. Territories.

Average Federal Salary (March 2012) $76,071
Cabinet Level Agencies $74,612
Large Independent Agencies $90,447
Medium Independent Agencies $105,468
Small Independent Agencies $106,541

Agencies with the Overall Highest Average and Lowest Average Salary

The agencies with the lowest and highest average salaries are very small—so small most readers will not know of their existence. The Valles Caldera Trust has nine employees with an average salary of $50,255. Its mission: to preserve and protect the historic Baca Ranch of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains.

The big winner at at $165,300 is the Northern Border Regional Commission which, according to OPM, has one employee. Its purpose: to improve the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed portions of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

Cabinet Level Agencies

How does your salary compare to others who work for cabinet level agencies? The agency with the highest average salary among the agencies is the Department of Transportation. The average salary in this agency is $107,952. The Departments of Energy and Education are not far behind at $105,541 and $102,921 respectively. The lowest is the Department of Agriculture at $$66,048.

Large Independent Agencies

Large independent agencies do much better on average, than employees in cabinet level agencies. The big winner in this category: The Securities and Exchange Commission with an average salary of $154,671. The Federal Communications Commission comes in second at $121,489. The lowest average salary among these agencies: The National Archives and Records Administration at $60,223.

$90,447 is the average salary for all employees in these agencies.

Medium Independent Agencies

Medium Independent Agencies do not have any agency that comes close to the SEC but, overall, this group still comes out ahead of the larger agencies. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has an overall average salary of $144,376 to come out on top of all others in this category. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission comes in second at $140,640. At the bottom in this category is the International Boundary and Water Commission for the U.S. and Mexico. Average salary in this agency is $58,931.

Small Independent Agencies

The smaller agencies have the highest overall overage at $106,541. The Northern Border Regional Commission comes out on top in this category, and number one among all federal agencies, at $165,300. The Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation also fares well with an average of $161,391. The Valles Caldera Trust comes in at the bottom of this category and, in fact, comes in last among all federal agencies at $50,255.

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. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47