How to Find Federal Employees’ Salaries by Name

Here is how to find federal employees’ salaries by name and other criteria online.

Federal Employee Salary Information

Human nature is fairly predictable. Many of us may wonder how much does my colleague or next-door neighbor make per year? If the person you are wondering about is a federal employee, you may be able to find that information quickly.

It is easy to use an online database to perform an individual federal employee salary lookup of about 1.4 million federal employees for Fiscal Year 2022 (or other years). Moreover, a researcher, or just a curious individual, can narrow down the search by name, agency, occupation, location, or salary.

This article explains below how a search such as this can be accomplished.

Why Is a Federal Employee’s Salary Public Information?

A common question is why a federal employee’s salary is public information.

The information is not available for all federal employees. Some federal employees are not included in federal pay databases. In most instances, the government has concluded employees in some agencies are engaging in national security work and that it is not in the public interest to release their individual pay information. Names in these cases will often display as “Name unknown” or “Name withheld by agency.”

The current policy of releasing names and federal pay started in 2005. At that time, the Bush administration started withholding salary information from the public for about 900,000 federal civilian employees. The practice of refusing to release the information was “breaking a tradition of openness that began in 1816” according to a lawsuit filed by a group at Syracuse University under the Freedom of Information Act.

The group argued that “Citizens have a right to know who is working for the government” and the new policy changed that policy.

The federal government began publicly naming its employees, their job category, salary, and workplace in 1816. The first entry in the 1816 version of the Federal Register was James Madison. He was identified as president of the United States at a salary of $25,000 and that his birthplace was in Virginia. The second entry was Secretary of State James Monroe and noted his salary of $5,000.

It wasn’t just political leaders who were listed. According to an article in the Washington Post, Treasury Department messenger John Connell was from Maryland and worked in Washington for the federal government at a salary of $410 a year, and another Marylander, Richard H. Briscoe, worked for the Comptroller’s Office clerk for $1,000 a year.

How Can You Perform an Individual Federal Employee Salary Lookup Online?

How do you find out how much federal employees make? There are a few different sources now available for locating individual federal employee salaries.

For this article, unless otherwise indicated, the source for the information is It has been around for a number of years and is widely used by those interested in obtaining the desired information. is not hosted or maintained by FedSmith. This article explains how to use the database to look up the salary of a federal employee.

The database of individual federal employee salaries now contains data from fiscal year 2022.

Filters are used to narrow a search for information in the database. Available filters are the fiscal year of the salary data, along with the employee’s name, location, agency, and occupation. The information is from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Here are the filters that now appear at the top of the page when searching for the salary of a federal employee:

Filters for finding a federal salary
Filters for an individual federal pay search

How Do You Look Up an Individual Federal Employee by Name?

The most frequent searches on the federal employee salary database are for information pertaining to a specific federal employee. If the last name is fairly unique, you can just type in a name using this format: lastname,firstname.

In this example, the name used is “Smith,John”.

The search result will provide the results of every person in the database with the name of “Smith,John”. If the last name is an uncommon one, an option is to type in only the person’s last name.

After typing in “Smith,John” click the filter box in the lower right hand corner to see the results displayed like this:

Sample results of searching for federal employee salaries by name
Searching for a federal employee’s salary by name

If searching for a specific federal employee with a common last name, just type in the person’s first and last name using this format: Smith,Ralph. Just typing in the name Smith is not very helpful as the result will be a very long list. Using the lastname,firstname approach will result in finding a much smaller number of people.

Here is how your search result will appear:

Sample results of searching for a federal employee's salary by name for the name "Smith,Ralph"
Last name, first name search results on

Note to readers: The author of this article has the same name as those in these search results. As the author of this article is no longer a federal employee, while my name appears to be on this list, these are all other individuals.

How Do You Find Federal Employees’ Salaries By Name and Agency?

Searching for a federal employee in the online database is often not that easy. Perhaps you know the last name of the person but not the first name. If you happen to know the individual you are seeking works for the Social Security Administration, you can use the database using a different search technique.

For example, you know “Smith,R” works for the Social Security Administration. In this case, you can type in “Smith,R” and “Social Security Administration” in the appropriate fields and you will narrow down your search considerably.

So, to narrow down the results that are displayed, we have listed the name of an employee in a specific agency. The result will display a list of about ten names but the list is now small enough to make the list useful in your search. Here are the search filters that were used to find the federal pay for “Smith,R” in the Social Security Administration.

Federal employee salary search filter example with the name "Smith,R" and agency "Social Security Administration"

There are other filters that can be used in the various search boxes. This can be difficult as the way the data is listed varies. This makes it more difficult to use some of the other filters. When entering information in the box, a list of suggestions will appear. This list can make it easier to locate the actual person you are seeking to find.

How Do You Look Up Federal Employee Salaries by Occupation and Salary?

Another common search in the federal pay database is searching for people by their occupation.

For example, if you want to see a list of federal employees with the occupation of “General Attorney” for all federal agencies, your search results will provide thousands of federal employees in this occupation. The first result is an alphabetical list of employees in this general occupation automatically sorted by “lastname,firstname”.

Here is an example of how to narrow down this type of search. In this example, you can locate all federal employees with the “General Attorney” occupation and simultaneously sort the list from their highest to the lowest federal pay amounts. To do this:

  1. Enter the title “General Attorney” in the “Occupation” search block. As you type the job title and location into their respective fields, menus of matching results will appear underneath the field and will be narrowed down further as you type. Simply click on a matching result to populate the field.
  2. Click on the “Filter” button to see the results of your search.
  3. Click twice on the “Salary” column to sort the individual salaries of those in the list from the highest to the lowest (descending order).
  4. These results will show the highest-paid federal employees with the occupation of “General Attorney”. These results can be misleading as different agencies may use different titles for jobs that are essentially the same.

Here is how the results of the search will look after these filters have been applied.

Federal employee salary search results by occupation and sorted from highest salary to lowest
This screenshot shows General Attorney employees sorted by their federal pay rates from highest to lowest salaries. Users will see the complete list of results.

How to Find Highest (and Lowest) Federal Employee Salaries and Average Federal Pay

One common question from readers is how to search by salary level. It is possible to search on all employees listed in the database by salary level. Just click twice in the main heading on the salary box and the search engine will provide a listing of about 1.4 million employees sorted from the highest salary in government to the lowest.

Listing of the highest federal employee salaries in FY 2022
This screenshot is from a listing of all federal employees in the database sorted by their federal pay rates from highest to lowest salaries. This chart shows the first few people in this listing.

With this search, and sorting all federal employees in the database from the highest salary to the lowest salary, the person with the highest salary is Anthony Fauci. While he is no longer a federal employee, he was still employed by the federal government in this fiscal year 2022 database.

As noted in this recent article, the average federal employee salary was $95,279 at the end of September 2022. The average federal employee salary in Washington, DC at that time was $130,802. 

Miscellaneous Tips for Searching Individual Federal Employees’ Salaries

Here are several other tips for successfully narrowing down your search of the federal employee salary database:

  • Agencies are often not listed as being under the broad umbrella of the main organization such as the “Department of Agriculture” or the “Department of Veterans Affairs” or the “Veterans Administration.” The agencies providing the information have generally opted not to do that. Type in “veterans” under the name of the agency and you will see various agencies with this in their name.
  • With smaller agencies, all employees will usually be found under the main heading. For example, typing in “Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation” into the box for the agency name will yield results displaying employees for the agency located in cities around the U.S.
  • Also, for the main database of federal employees, results are usually organized by city but not by state. For example, typing in Tampa will result in finding federal employees working in Tampa, Florida. Typing in “Florida” to find all employees in the state rather than the name of a city will not work because of how the data has been entered by each individual agency.
  • In some limited cases, agencies chose to release salary data under just a state name rather than a city name.

We hope that this explanation will be helpful in finding the specific salary information you are seeking.

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