Civil service executive officer
37 per week
£21,000 + per year
As a civil service executive officer you would help to manage departments that apply government policies and deliver a wide range of important public services. If you like working with people and enjoy interpreting information and data, this could be a career you’d enjoy.
You’ll be communicating with the public, senior managers and your staff in this job so you will need to have excellent spoken and written communication skills. You’ll also be using your judgment to make fair and informed decisions.
There is no set route to become a civil service executive officer. Each government department or agency will set its own entry criteria.
As an executive officer, you could work in any of the 170 civil service departments and agencies that deal with developing government policies and delivering services to the public. All departments and agencies employ people at executive officer (EO) grade, although job titles can vary.
Government departments and agencies include:
- Ministry of Defence
- Home Office
- Department for Education
- Office for National Statistics
- Public Health England
- National Crime Agency
- Forestry Commission
Your exact duties would depend on the department you worked for and could include:
- managing a team of administrative officers
- being responsible for motivating, training and reviewing team performance
- training in a specific area of work such as tax or immigration control
- handling a caseload
- applying complex policies and procedures to deal with enquiries and complaints
- making decisions on individual cases
- updating records on computer systems and databases
- preparing and presenting reports
You would normally work around 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Most departments work standard office hours, although some may use a flexitime system. In some departments you may be required to work on a shift basis which would include evenings, weekends and public holidays.
Part-time work and job sharing are common.
You would be office-based, although there may be some travel to attend meetings, training courses and visiting other organisations.
Starting salaries at EO grade are around £21,000 to £24,000 a year and depend on the department or agency you work in.
With experience this could rise to between £25,000 and £30,000.
Salaries are usually higher in London. There may be extra allowances for working unsocial hours.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Each department or agency sets its own entry requirements. Depending on the role, you may be asked for GCSEs, A levels or a degree. Whatever your qualifications you would be expected to have relevant work or life experience. For example, experience of managing people. Job adverts give more details about entry requirements.
As part of the civil service reform you would also be assessed on skills, knowledge and behaviours or ‘competencies’ that fit in with the values of the civil service. The competencies that are required for each job role are shown on the job advert.
When you apply you would go through various stages, which might include:
- filling in an application form based on your skills and life experience
- taking a written test to check your level of English and maths
- passing more selection tests like online assessments
- attending an interview
If you have at least a second-class degree in any subject, you could apply to the Graduate Fast Stream programme. This is a training scheme that leads to senior management posts. Your degree can be in any subject, although some departments may prefer degrees in subjects that are relevant to their work. For example, science and engineering departments.
Competition for places on the Fast Stream is very strong. Visit the Civil Service Fast Stream website for more information on eligibility requirements, the application process and to read case studies.
The civil service also offers a Summer Diversity Internship Programme which is aimed at graduates and undergraduates from ethnic minorities and under-represented backgrounds. The scheme offers a paid six- to nine-week training placement in a government department and can be a stepping stone onto the Fast Track programme. To find out more about how to apply and the eligibility criteria check the civil service website.
You could join a civil service department in an administrative grade and work your way up, or you could be recruited directly as an executive officer.
For all jobs you must also meet the nationality requirement – all jobs are open to British nationals and many are also open to Commonwealth citizens or nationals of the member states of the European Economic Area.
Training and development
You will be trained on the job, learning from experienced staff and attending in-house training courses.
You will be encouraged to identify your own training needs as part of an appraisal and staff development programme.
After at least two years' service, you could apply to join the Fast Stream programme if your manager thinks you have the potential for senior management.
You can use the civil service career pathways framework to explore progression routes, which could help you with decisions about your career development. The framework gives detailed job descriptions for posts at different grades, and shows the skills and competencies needed for each role.
You may be able to start in this job through a Civil Service Apprenticeship Scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more visit the civil service website.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a civil service executive officer you should have:
- management and leadership skills
- excellent written and spoken communication skills
- decision making ability
- good organisational and time management skills
- problem solving ability
- the ability to interpret figures and written information
- computer and administrative skills
- budget awareness
- good judgement and the ability to apply rules fairly
- respect for confidentiality
Working for the Civil Service
The civil service is one of the country's largest employers, employing around half a million people all over the UK.
Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, Jobcentre Plus, and on the civil service and individual departments' websites.
There is a clear promotion structure, which is linked to the competency framework and appraisal system. Fast Stream recruits can expect to reach senior level within about five years.
There is a recruitment freeze on jobs within the civil service. Some roles such as the Graduate Fast Track programme and Apprenticeships are not included in the freeze and are still open for recruitment when jobs are available.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading:
Job market information
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The 'Market statistics' charts are based on figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
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