Average $90,510 Salary and Other Traits of 2.1 Million+ Federal Employees

The average federal employee’s salary is now just over $90,000 (excluding benefits). Here is a breakdown of GS levels, educational attainment, and gender among federal employees.

How do you compare to other federal employees?

The United States federal government is a large organization. It also keeps detailed records of the people who work within this system of government. With that information, we can learn more about the individuals employed by Uncle Sam.

The data in this column is for 2,171,513 federal government employees who are considered General Schedule (GS) employees.

According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which keeps, stores and tallies such information, the average federal employee now has a salary (excluding benefits) of $90,510. The average length of service of federal employees is 12.3 years.

All reported data is as of the end of December 2020.

Number of Federal Employees at Each GS Grade

The following table is a breakdown of the number of federal employees in each General Schedule (GS) grade/ The largest number is at GS-12. The GS-12 employees are 13.9% of the total number of GS employees.

GradeNumber of Employees% In This Grade
1564,8582.98
14136,4786.28
13266,30512.2
12301,90613.9
11198,4899.14
1014,2920.65
9143,4676.60
855,8942.57
7121,7885.60
6102,8804.73
581,2923.74
432,9071.51
38,5520.39
21,0340.04
17930.03

There are more men than women in federal service. Here is the breakdown by gender:

Female961,299 (44.26%)
Male1,210,176 (55.72%)
Unspecified38 (.00174%)
Total2,171,513

Education Levels of Federal Government Employees

It is often said and remarked on in the press that the federal government’s workforce is highly educated. Here is the breakdown of federal employees by educational attainment.

Education LevelNumber of Employees% At This Level
Below High School45,7682.12
High School563,74426.12
Occupational Program43,7972.02
Between High School and Bachelor’s373,15217.29
Bachelor’s degree577,51426.76
Post-bachelors111,1745.15
Masters355,94216.49
Doctorate74,5883.45
Post-doctorate7,7280.35
Unspecified2,1880.10
No level reported2,1220.09
Educational Attainment of Federal Government Employees

The percentage of the American population with a Bachelor’s degree was 32.1% in the period from 2015-2019. In the United States, two percent of the population has obtained a doctoral degree. About 13% of the American population has a Master’s degree.

Race and Ethnicity in Federal Government

Topics such as race and ethnicity seem to permeate any topic of discussion in human resources in today’s society.

The federal government, of course, tracks this data extensively. Here is the breakdown of the federal workforce by race and ethnicity.

  • Minority: 831,120
  • Non-Minority: 1,335,208
  • Unspecified: 6,185

“Non-minority” refers to employees who are white or Caucasian. There is no further breakdown among this group.

Minority employees are reported in more specific categories by OPM, as follows:

American Indian or Alaskan Native34,128
Asian138,080
Black/African American399,100
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander12,102
Hispanic/Latino204,876
More than one race41,834

Summary

In an organization as diverse as the federal government, coming up with an “average” employee would be difficult.

But, as far as the type of employee that has the most common traits of federal employees embodied in one person, that person would:

  • Work for a cabinet-level agency
  • Be a GS-12 on the General Schedule
  • Have worked for the federal government for 12.3 years
  • Has a Bachelor’s degree
  • Male
  • White
  • Most likely works in the Washington, DC metropolitan area

Infographic: Federal Employees in 2021

Infographic showing the makeup of federal employees and the overall United States federal workforce in 2021 based on the latest available data from the Office of Personnel Management
You are welcome to share and republish this infographic. Please provide attribution to FedSmith with a link back to this page.

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