The public services sector draws together areas of the economy that are owned and operated by the government, such as ministerial departments, agencies and public bodies. Here we run through nine public sector jobs, from careers in the Civil Service to those in politics

What are public sector jobs?

Organisations that are run by the government and funded by tax-payers money belong to the public sector.

Public service careers span a range of roles, often overlapping with other job sectors. From working for central and local government, to careers in teaching, healthcare, social care, transport and law enforcement and security. Examples of public sector jobs include joining the armed forces or the police, working within the NHS or emergency services, teaching in schools or higher education institutions and working as a social worker.

Civil Service Fast Streamer

With 15 pathways to choose from, including HR, science and engineering, and digital, data and technology, there are plenty of routes to becoming a Fast Streamer on the Civil Service's accelerated leadership development programme.

Open to anyone, irrespective of their age, background or degree subject, these full-time roles train you to become a senior leader within the Civil Service.

You'll be expected to carry out work specific to the stream chosen, quickly developing an understanding of a topic or issue, while formulating and implementing policy.

Benefits include a starting salary of £27,000 to £28,000, with the potential to earn up to £55,000 upon completion of the scheme.

Discover what else it takes to be selected as a Civil Service Fast Streamer.

Diplomatic service officer

Representing the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), diplomatic service officers are tasked with protecting and promoting the interests of the country, while supporting British citizens and organisations across the globe.

This public sector position involves the administration of diplomacy overseas, so you'll be expected to tackle key issues such as human rights, international trade and counterterrorism. This could be through drafting and proofreading written reports, organising diplomatic visits and dealing with public enquiries.

By entering this public service career through the Civil Service Fast Stream, where you'll be expected to achieve a 2:2 in any degree subject, you'll start on £28,000, with this potentially rising to £45,000 within five years.

Explore the role of a diplomatic service officer, while other civil servant jobs include becoming a Civil Service administrator.

Environmental health practitioner

Responsible for ensuring that the environments where people live and work meet all required wellbeing and safety standards, you could work for a local authority, a government agency such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the National Health Service (NHS).

To become a qualified environmental health practitioner (EHP), you'll need to achieve an undergraduate or Masters degree in environmental health that's accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

Once qualified, you can choose to specialise in a particular area such as housing, food safety, environmental protection or public health. Starting salaries are between £25,000 and £40,000, with this varying according to the local authority and area of work.

Learn more about the role of an environmental health practitioner and consider public heath careers.

Government social research officer

Joining the Civil Service's Government Social Research (GSR) profession you'll get to work on research projects that help to support and inform decisions on government policy that affect individuals, groups and society as a whole.

Government social research officers work closely with civil servants and other professionals to interpret data and present findings.

The GSR Fast Stream is an accelerated development scheme that takes on graduates with a social science background. For the degree to qualify (at either undergraduate or postgraduate level), at least a third (30%) of it needs to be focused on social research methods, in addition to other criteria.

Entry-level research officers start at £25,000 to £30,000, with £45,000 to £55,000 achievable after four to five years.

Get the lowdown on becoming a government social research officer.

Intelligence analyst

This public sector job helps to keep the UK secure against serious organised crime through the assessment and interpretation of secret intelligence data. You’ll most likely work for one of the nation's three intelligence and security agencies - Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), Security Service (MI5) or the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6).

With a starting salary of £30,000 to £35,000, you'll work at the main office of one of the agencies, with some roles expecting you to spend time overseas.

Each agency has its own entry requirements, but roles are generally open to graduates of any discipline. However, you'll need to show excellent problem-solving ability, an aptitude for analysis and good report-drafting skills.

Explore what it's like to work as an intelligence analyst and read about the full range of intelligence services careers for graduates.

Local government officer

With a job as a local government officer, you'll be given responsibility for the delivery of a specific public service such as housing, the environment, regeneration or transport.

You'll work closely with administrators, councillors, other local authority specialists and members of the public. This public service job involves formulating, planning and monitoring policies and procedures, attending meetings and coordinating communication strategies through publications or the council website.

This office-based role is available across the UK, in most large towns and cities, with customer service, planning and negotiation skills often considered more important than the subject you studied at university. A relevant HND or foundation degree can also lead to an entry-level administration position in public services, with the potential for progression into more senior roles.

Find out more about working as a local government officer.

Policy officer

Policy graduate jobs are wide ranging as you could decide to work for local or central government, a think tank, charity, or any number of public and private sector organisations.

Irrespective of your employer, as a policy officer your main duties will involve undertaking research and gathering and analysing data that will aid decision-makers in developing and shaping policy to bring about change.

You'll also evaluate policy proposals and offer advice on potential outcomes - for example, in a government role, your findings could be presented to a Member of Parliament (MP).

A degree in social policy, public administration or politics may be useful for landing a job as a policy officer in this competitive field, although this depends on the role and the specialist area you choose to work in.

Get an idea of the salary and person specifications for a policy officer.

Political risk analyst

In a fast-paced role where you'll be tasked with responding to complex and ever-changing international developments, a political risk analyst needs to have a keen interest in politics and current affairs.

The issues you'll be tasked with collecting information and trends on could range from cyber security to conflict and human rights.

As well as being employed by governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), you can also find work in the private sector to inform business and investment decisions.

Gaining relevant work experience is essential if you want to get into this competitive field, so read about the various routes to becoming a political risk analyst.

Politician's assistant

Also known as a parliamentary or constituency assistant, an executive officer or a personal assistant (PA), a politician's assistant plays a key behind-the-scenes role for an MP, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) or Member of the Welsh or Northern Ireland Assembly.

Providing administrative support to the elected politician you're working for, it's your job to assist with secretarial tasks, publicity and research so they're able to fully represent those within their constituency.

A passion for politics and current affairs in addition to relevant work experience is more important than qualifications if you're hoping to enter this field. You could shadow a politician, secure an internship or volunteer with a think tank or NGO.

If you decide a job as a politician's assistant is for you, discover what it's like working for an MP.

Other public service and admin careers

Find out more

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