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Top 10 Places to Work in the Government: A Comparison

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According to BestPlacesToWork.org, the top government agencies to work at are listed below. To see how users are rating these agencies on a platform that many job seekers use when assessing a company or organization, we also compared this ranking with Glassdoor's ranking system.

To search for available government jobs, visit the Military.com Government Job Search page.

The 10 Best Places to Work in the U.S. Government:

1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (76.1)
2. Intelligence Community (67.1)
3. Department of Justice (66.3)
4. Department of State (66.3)
5. Department of Commerce (66.2)
6. Social Security Administration (66.0)
7. Department of Health and Human Services (63.9)
8. Department of Labor (63.1)
9. Department of Transportation (63.1)
10. US Department of the Air Force (60.0)

Comparison with Employee Rankings:

Glassdoor works on a review system, somewhat similar to Yelp and OpenTable, but for companies and how their employees rate them.

1. NASA: NASA making the top of the list did not come as a surprise, as everyone we've spoken with who has gone through NASA's doors has loved it. Careers at NASA include such jobs as Aerospace Engineers, Research Scientists, and of course, Astronauts.

Employer Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 90 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 88 percent

2. Intelligence Community:

Office of the Director of National Intelligence:

Employer Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 80 percent
CEO Approval Rating: NA

CIA:

Employer Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 74 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 82 percent

DIA:

Employer Rating: 3.4 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 57 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 88 percent

FBI:

Employer Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 78 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 97 percent

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency:

Employer Rating: 2.6 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 38 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 37 percent

Listing the Intelligence Community as a single organization seems like an odd choice, considering that it is made up of 17 different agencies. We can assure you  that some of these agencies have better reputations than others, as a sampling of Glassdoor's reviews will attest. We've chosen to include just a few notable reviews of individual agencies here, instead of all 17.

3. Department of Justice (DOJ):

Employer Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 86 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 87 percent

Along with the legal careers and other opportunities here, if you want to work for the U.S. Marshals Service (where a lot of veterans we know in Washington, DC ended up), you would fall under the DOJ.

4. Department of State (DOS):

Employer Rating: 3.7 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 81 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 87 percent

Regional experts and veterans interested in working at embassies overseas should consider the DOS. Moving around with the Foreign Service may appeal to you if you liked that aspect of the military, and this is a high-profile way to continue to represent your country.

5. Department of Commerce (DOC):

Employer Rating: 3.9 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 85percent
CEO Approval Rating: 95 percent

There are many parts to the DOC, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Like the DOS, the DOC has a foreign service arm called the Foreign Commercial Service, within the International Trade Administration. If you have a passion for international trade, the DOC is one of several places to keep your eye on. 

6. Social Security Administration (SSA):

Employer Rating: 3.3 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 58 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 74 percent

Working for the SSA means helping to bring Social Security services to the public, and they have job opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad.  

7. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

Employer Rating: 3.7 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 62 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 91 percent

Jobs at HHS includes health care research and related categories, and encompasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and more.  

8. Department of Labor (DOL):

Employer Rating: 3.0 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 49 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 86 percent

At the DOL you can work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, in such roles as an economist, statistician, accountant, or auditor.

9. Department of Transportation (DOT):

Employer Rating: 3.6 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 77 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 100 percent

Careers at the DOT include working in aviation, highway traffic safety, and more, including working for the Federal Transit Administration and Maritime Administration.

10. US Department of the Air Force (USAF):

Employer Rating: 4.1 out of 5
Employee Referral Rating: 84 percent
CEO Approval Rating: 86 percent

The military made the list! And in case you didn't know, the branches of the armed forces have civilian jobs, so this is also a potential employer to consider when you transition to the civilian workforce. Job prospects with the USAF include intelligence, program management, financial management, and more.

What These Scores Mean

These scores and rankings are all based on people's opinions, so for you and your job search, they may mean nothing. Each of these agencies made the Best Places to Work Top 10 list, and that certainly says something. Do low Glassdoor scores mean you should run away? Not necessarily – this author worked for 4 years with the Department of Commerce, and loved every moment of it, so in our opinion a 3.9 is a little low (but anything around a 4 is pretty good, so that isn't a horrible score).

A general rule of thumb to follow is that if the scores are closer to the 3.0 range, it doesn't mean the organization is hopeless. It means you should do your research. Read up on what people are saying about the agency or company, and check out top 10 lists such as this to see what brought them to the top 10. At the end of the day, a job is very much about whom you work with and for, so consider these lists and reviews as a starting point, so that you are better informed and able to ask the right questions.

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