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Home  > Article

The Hill vs. the Statehouse

By Laura Gordon

The U.S. government operates on many levels, including the federal, state, and local divisions. While many jobs seem centered on glamorous Capitol Hill, the majority, in fact, are at state and local bureaucracies.

The Hill

Jobs within the legislative branch, such as working on Capitol Hill in D.C., as a staff member for a Representative or Senator, can be particularly suited to recent college grads looking for some experience before heading off to graduate or law school. "The Hill," as it's commonly referred to, is teeming with young people willing to work long hours, often on several projects at once, for an opportunity to get an insider's view of how the government works. Often, the work is focused on issues that will benefit people, the environment, business, or some other target for legislation. The contacts you make and the issues you learn about in these positions can open many doors for you later in your career, both at federal and international levels.

The State

Jobs at the state and local levels are usually more focused on providing services to various groups of constituents.

In state government, agencies might administer social services, oversee revenue collection, enforce regulations, issue licenses, plan transportation improvements, direct economic development, or support law enforcement. While occupations in state government often mirror those found throughout the economy, there are some jobs that are unique. These include tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents; urban and regional planners; and the judiciary, including correctional officers and jailers. A four-year bachelor's degree will often provide the required training for these careers.

The Community

In cities and towns, police, fire, and public works departments are likely to be the largest employers, supported by a smaller number of municipal managers, financial workers, and other staff.

Increasingly, communities are requiring police officers to have an associate's or bachelor's degree. Firefighters also are expected to have extensive training, including coursework in fire safety and passing a civil service exam. Civil engineers are often sought for transportation departments.

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