How much does the average federal employee make each year in salary (excluding the federal employee benefits package)?
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a 2019 report, the Average Annual Base Salary (adjusted to include locality pay) for Full Time Permanent federal employees was $87,312 per year.
The average General Schedule (GS) grade at that time was 10.41 but that average grade goes up to 12.61 in the Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV Core Based Statistical Area.
These are averages. There are many federal employees making more, sometimes a lot more, than the statistical average.
The general schedule pay system was established in 1949. According to the Office of Personnel Management, more than 75% of federal workers were in grade GS-7 or below in 1950. That compares to 20.4% at GS-7 or below at the end of September 2018. This is a decline of 54.6% at GS-7 or below. In large part, this is because of the increased specialization and automation of functions in the federal government. It is also probably due in some case to “grade creep” in agencies.
More than 27% of employees were on pay plans outside of the regular GS-scale at the end of fiscal 2018.
Agencies With the Most Employees Making $200,000+
For example, here is a list of federal agencies with the most employees making more than $200,000 per year:
|2,581||SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION|
|2,505||DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES|
|1,332||FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION|
|699||DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY|
|237||FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY|
|236||COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION|
|208||FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM|
|164||DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS|
|118||NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION|
|118||DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY|
|99||DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE|
|52||FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION|
|13||ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY|
|11||DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE|
|8||NAT AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION|
|8||DEPARTMENT OF LABOR|
|7||DEPARTMENT OF STATE|
|6||FARM CREDIT SYSTEM INSURANCE CORPORATION|
|4||ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME|
Agencies With Highest Average Salary
As one might expect, there is often a relationship between the largest number of federal employees making more than $200,000 per year and the highest average salary for an agency.
A list of the agencies with the highest average salary based on the 2019 salary data does not directly correspond with the largest number of employees making more than $200,000. Some of these agencies are highly specialized and have a relatively small number of employees. In other words, the average salary may be high but the number of agency employees is relatively small compared to other federal agencies.
|SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION||196,556.67|
|FARM CREDIT SYSTEM INSURANCE CORPORATION||184,168.00|
|COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION||177,713.66|
|FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY||173,515.23|
|PUBLIC BUILDINGS REFORM BOARD||166,498.25|
|ARCTIC RESEARCH COMMISSION||155,783.77|
|NUCLEAR WASTE TECHNICAL REVIEW BOARD||152,077.68|
|MEDICARE PAYMENT ADVISORY COMMISSION||147,176.63|
|FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION||146,403.09|
|INTERNATIONAL JOINT CMSN: U.S. AND CANADA||145,819.88|
For federal employees hoping to increase their salaries, some of these agencies may be worth checking out. In at least some of them, the average salary is because of the highly specialized nature of the workforce, but administrative positions exist in all agencies. Oftentimes, these same agencies also pay more than other agencies for the same type of work.
Keep in mind many of these jobs, probably most, are located in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. That is not necessarily bad but the cost of living expenses may be much higher in Washington than in many other areas of the country.