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).
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:
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.
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.