Let's face it, no one goes into local government work for the money. Despite what Leslie Knope might have us believe, working for a municipal entity is not always the sexiest or most thrilling work. But it can be personally rewarding, and for someone looking to make an impact even just at the community level, working for a municipality is the way to go.
And, while there are advantages and disadvantages to every job, there are certain benefits that make a career in municipal work desirable. These benefits may not exist in every city and town, but here are a few of the traditional benefits associated with working for a local government.
This is a key perk for any employer to offer, especially for working parents or those with elderly parents who need care. The ability to succeed at work and be available for family needs is important to many, and In municipal work, with the exception of emergency personnel and such, employees tend to be able to have a good work-life balance.
Government offices tend to close weekends and holidays and open on an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Although there has been a recent trend in alternative work schedules, such as flex-time and telecommuting, these practices have been slower to enter municipal government than they have in been in the private sector.
Serving the Public
The parks in your community, the roads you drive on, the emergency personnel who keep you safe, they all have one thing in common: local government. It does not matter what position you hold in city government, you contribute to the success of your city. When you work for an organization that helps the community you live in, you have a sense of pride (and responsibility) for the work you do.
A big plus to working for a municipality is a defined benefit retirement plan. Depending on the municipality, it may take 20 years or more to reach normal retirement. But once you are eligible for retirement, there are some pretty significant sweeteners to any private retirement plan you may have. Your city’s pension department would be able to calculate your monthly benefit.
Retired workers would receive this benefit for life and may have the option to receive a lower benefit and allow for their spouse to receive the benefit for life if the spouse were to outlive the retiree.
Unlike the private sector, public sector, public sector employees are less subject to the ups and downs of the marketplace when it comes to layoffs and employee cutbacks. This does not mean that you can have low performance or acts of misconduct and still find yourself employed, but it does mean that good employees have more job security.
If you work in the office of an elected official, obviously that security could vary based on whether he or she is reelected.
Municipal workers often find themselves with additional benefits. These include health insurance with affordable premiums, vacation days, sick days and holidays. When combined with base salary, all these benefits increase one’s total compensation. Your local government may offer other benefits, as well, to include employee assistance programs, deferred compensation programs or life insurance plans.
The Bottom Line
There are a variety of reasons to work for your local municipality. Whether you are looking long-term with a pension and job security or short-term with paid time off and a sense of joy helping others, working for local government may be just what you're looking for.