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From the federal level down to states, counties and municipalities, the U.S. Government employs around 22 million people. Yet, choosing a career of public service can mean a big step down in pay. Federal employees, for example, make an average of 35 percent less than their private-sector peers, according to a report from the Federal Salary Council.
Of course, working for the government doesn’t always have to mean lower pay, especially if you have one of the highest-paid Government Jobs in the U.S. Workers who hold some of the worst-paying positions, however, will definitely feel some financial strain trying to make ends meet on a low income. So, take a look at the highest-paying jobs in the U.S. government, as well as the government jobs that pay the least.
The 5 Best-Paying Jobs in the U.S. Government
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Many state employees with prominent positions earn sizable Salaries, and some even have the opportunity to take advantage of attractive retirement plans, like the very desirable — yet quickly disappearing — pension plan. But, the highest-paying government jobs are reserved for just a few people — or even just a single person at a time.
Click through to see paychecks earned by the five highest-paid government positions in the U.S.
5. Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: $246,800
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The justices of the Supreme Court have the responsibility of hearing final appeals of legal cases that have not been settled in a lower court of the land, and thus hold significant power in deciding matters of federal law and how it is applied. For instance, notable Supreme Court decisions of 2015 include legalized gay marriage at the federal level and validated health insurance subsidies administered through the Affordable Care Act.
Not only do the eight associate justices of the Supreme Court hold their office for life or until they retire, they also earn the fifth-highest salary in U.S. government of $246,800.
4. Chief Justice of the United States: $258,100
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In addition to the eight associate justices, the chief justice of the United States acts as the head of the U.S. federal court system. This position has been held by Chief Justice John Roberts since 2005, who will hold this office until his death or resignation. Until one of those happens, Chief Justice Roberts will earn a salary of $258,100 a year paid to him by the federal government.
3. President of the United States: $400,000
The job of president of the United States lasts four years per term, with a limit of two terms, during which the president earns $400,000 per year — the highest salary of any federal employee. The presidential salary was last increased in 2001, when it was doubled from the previous amount of $200,000 set in 1969.
Only two presidents have held office paid at this salary: former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Still, this impressive salary isn’t enough to put either of these men among the richest U.S. presidents in history.
2. President of a Public College: $428,000
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There are at least 238 chief executives who are heads of 220 public colleges or universities in the U.S., and these college presidents earn salaries that average $428,000, reports CNN Money, citing an analysis from the Chronicle of Higher Education. But some college presidents make much more than that — up to nearly $1.5 million, which is the compensation of a former Pennsylvania State president earned for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
As heads of public universities, college presidents are still public employees of the state that run the school, which means their salaries are at least partially funded by taxpayers’ money. Their responsibilities include acting as the public face of the school and making executive and administration decisions.
1. NCAA Football Coach: $1.75 Million
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In 40 of 50 states, the best-paid public employee is the head basketball or football coach of a public college or university, reported U.S. News and World Report in July 2015. NCAA football coaches tend to command high paychecks, earning $1.75 million on average in 2014, according to an analysis from Newsday.
The 25 highest-paid football coaches earn double that at $3.85 million on average — that’s enough to out-earn even some NFL coaches. According to the Newsday analysis, the NCAA coach at a public school who commands the highest pay is Alabama’s Nick Saban, who gets $6.9 million in guaranteed money each year as part of an eight-year contract that’s worth $55.2 million in total.
These multi-million dollar salaries are largely supported by profitable college sports programs, but many still owe at least a portion of their paychecks to taxpayers. This makes these head coaches the highest-paid public employees in the government.
The 5 Worst-Paying Jobs in the U.S. Government
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While the highest-paid public employees are few and far between and represent the upper echelons of American government, the worst-paying jobs are much more common. These workers are numerous and can easily be found in communities across the nation, keeping local governments, infrastructure and services running smoothly.
Here’s a look at the five worst-paying government jobs in the U.S.
Read: 10 Best and Worst-Paying Jobs for Master’s Degree Grads
5. Correctional Officer: $39,780
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Correctional officers work in jails and prisons, overseeing inmates of these facilities. There are about 430,000 correctional officers employed in county, state and federal facilities, earning median salaries of $39,780 in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Becoming a correctional officer requires the completion of a training at an academy and then on the job.
This low pay, unfortunately, comes with less-than-ideal working conditions. It’s a fairly unsafe job; correctional officers have a high rate of injury and illness, often from confrontations with inmates. The job also requires around-the-clock shifts, so many correctional officers have to work unfavorable hours or graveyard shifts.
4. Road Maintenance Workers: $36,580
There are around 140,000 highway maintenance workers that keep the U.S. roadways in working condition, with a majority (94,000) working for local governments. Typically, these types of positions require no schooling beyond high school, and training is often provided on the job. The work, however, often requires intensive physical labor.
Road workers earned a median pay of $36,580 in 2014, equivalent to an hourly wage of about $18, according to the BLS. Maintenance workers in Alaska, California, Illinois and New Jersey are paid significantly more, earning over $50,000 on average.
3. Clerk of Court: $35,460
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Court clerks perform clerical duties for courts, from preparing case dockets to collecting fees. A worker can become a clerk with a high school diploma, though some courts will require a post-secondary degree to be considered for the job.
A median salary for this position is $35,460 a year, or about $17 an hour, according to the BLS. This figure includes median salaries for clerks who work for courts, municipalities and licensing agencies. There are just under 130,000 of these clerks employed in the U.S., with most (93,000) employed in local governments. Top-paying states for this occupation include New York, Alaska, New Jersey and Connecticut, all of which pay clerks average salaries upwards of $45,000 annually.
2. Garbage Collector: $33,660
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Garbage collectors, or “refuse and recyclable material collectors” as they are referred to by the BLS, earned wages with a median of $33,660 in 2014, equal to around $16 an hour. This job has a fairly wide range of salaries, however. The bottom 10 percent earn as little as $19,480 a year ($9.37 hourly), while the highest-paid earn salaries that are three times as high — $58,590 annually ($28.17 an hour).
There are no formal education requirements to be a garbage collector, though the job will often require heavy lifting and workers will need to meet the job’s physical demands.
1. Bus Driver: $30,220
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The job of a bus driver typically requires the worker to have a commercial drivers’ license, have a clean driving record, and complete on-the-job-training. Bus drivers have a higher rate of work-related injuries and illnesses, due to the risk of highway accidents. They are also some of the lowest-paid public employees out there.
The median salary is just over $30,000 a year, or about $14.50 an hour. Different kinds of bus drivers earn different salaries, however. Public transit and intercity bus drivers earn more, with a median annual salary of $37,470 ($18 per hour) in 2014. School bus drivers, on the other hand, earned a median salary of just $28,850 a year, or $13.87 hourly.
Keep Reading: 10 Best Jobs in 2016 — and How You Can Actually Get Them
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Best and Worst-Paying Jobs in the U.S. Government
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