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My Career, My APS

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I'm thinking of joining the Australian Public Service

I'd like to find out more about what work is done in the Australian Public Service and where

The Australian Public Service employs over 166,000 people in a huge range of jobs in cities, regional centres and rural areas.

Click on each question to learn more about getting a job within the Australian Public Service.

What type of job could I do?

The Australian Public Service is looking for people who are enthusiastic, reliable, good communicators and willing to learn.

Jobs in the Australian Public Service are graded into different classifications and paid accordingly. Different classifications need different levels of experience. You will improve your chances if you apply for jobs that reflect your existing level of experience and skills.

If you have work experience but not in the specific job you are applying for, you may still have the skills required. Think about transferable skills that you have gained through other jobs and other activities, e.g. voluntary work, being on committees or organising community events.

What classification level should I apply for?

Most, but not all departments use the same terminology to classify the level of complexity and responsibility of a position. The descriptions below are offered as general indicators of the level of position to apply for.

  • APS 1 and 2 – general entry level positions, cadetships and traineeships. Often a good place to start if you are a school leaver or have very limited experience.
  • APS 3 and 4 – general, technical, program delivery, regulatory and administrative positions. Often a starting place for people with a university degree, and/or some experience in similar positions.
  • APS 5 and 6 – senior administrative, technical, project and service positions. These are the best place to start if you have experience in similar positions.
  • Executive Level 1 and 2 – middle management positions. These are the best place to start if you have good knowledge and/or more extensive experience in similar positions.
  • Senior Executive Service jobs – if you have senior management experience in other organisations then you might be suitable for these jobs.

Other classification systems are also used in some agencies and departments.

What are the other classification systems?

Other classification systems are used in some agencies and departments. For example, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry both use a five level system for most positions. The best way to evaluate the likely responsibility level of the position is to compare the salary level with the classification levels outlined before.

The Australian Public Service also offers a range of positions for qualified professionals, that often have their own classification system, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, occupational therapists and psychologists to name a few.

Are all the jobs in Canberra?

Departments and agencies differ in staff locations and the numbers of staff outside Canberra, depending on their particular role.

Many agencies have positions outside of Canberra including the Department of Defence, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Taxation Office.

Many agencies have staff in other capital cities, and some have offices in smaller towns and regional centres as well.

The map shows where the jobs are in the APS.

A map of Australia with percentages of jobs available in each State and Territory

NT 1.8%

QLD 11.0%

WA 4.7%

SA 6.4%

NSW 18.8%

ACT 38.2%

VIC 1.8%

TAS 2.5%

How do I get the job I'm looking for?

It is rare to find the perfect job, and if you do, be successful in winning it first time. Sometimes the best way to find the perfect job in the Australian Public Service is to join, gain experience and move within the Service once you can demonstrate a strong track record.

Many people join with a specific job in mind, and eventually get to that dream job. Other people find that a range of other interesting opportunities are available and move on to do other things that they hadn't considered.

Most of the early part of an actor's career, you do the jobs you get.

Jack Nicholson