Very simply put, any job wherein the employer is a government entity is a public job. People can hold public jobs on the city, county, state, or national/federal level. In contrast, private sector jobs are those employed by non-government entities.
For cases where a government agency contracts work to a non-government agency, one can find themselves “working for the government” as a member of the private sector. As president of a digital forensics company, Jim Walker occasionally serves public agencies that require his company’s expertise. However, Black Swan Digital Forensics — a private company — is available for hire as a company within the private sector.
Comparing the Pros
For many years, Jim Walker served as a member of the public sector in the government and military. He notes that there are pros and cons to both the public and private sector. Some people are better suited for one sector over the other, but the grass isn’t necessarily greener on one side or the other. People seeking jobs in either sector should consider a variety of factors before choosing which is the best fit for them.
Pros of Public Sector
By and large, if one lands a job in the public sector, it is much easier to keep. Health and retirement benefits also tend to be far better than the average private sector job. Because government jobs are typically more indispensable, there is little fear of “layoffs” or acquisitions that end up with redundancies. As such, once one has established themselves within the public sector, they can pretty much count on their career remaining steady and secure.
- Job Security
- Lateral Mobility (the ability to move laterally among public jobs whilst preserving acquired benefits/leave days)
- Stable Work Environment
Pros of Private Sector
In the private sector, everything moves faster and is more dynamic. That means that job performance matters more than job tenure (under normal conditions) in non-government jobs. And for those with high-demand skills, they make more money.
- Specialized Jobs Earn Higher Pay
- Vertical Mobility (the ability to move up within a company via promotion)
- Performance Based
- Agile Decision Making
- Job Variety
Comparing the Cons
Naturally, Jim Walker notes that each sector possesses its own share of negatives.
Cons of Public Sector
In government work, it is more important to not fail than it is to succeed. As such, things move more slowly and there are significantly more regulations. This can create waste and frustration among those that desire quick results.
- More “Red Tape”
- Potential Waste
- Risk Averse Decision Making
Cons of Private Sector
The main setback to the private sector is its susceptibility to react at the mere hint of economic downturn. Additionally, fewer regulations and performance-based compensation can often result in employees working longer hours for less pay.
- Fluctuates with Economy
- Unstable Work Environments
- Takes Less to End a Career
For those weighing the pros and cons of public versus private sector jobs, Jim Walker concludes that it’s important to take stock of priorities. Those that thrive on speed, performance, and risk-taking may find government work overbearing and depressing. However, those that prefer financial stability and predictable workdays generally enjoy government work but may not be as well suited for the private sector.