Senior Executive Service (SES) is among the highest paid jobs in the US federal government. They fall under C-level types and are the same as general or admiral posts in the US Armed Forces. But unlike other high-level posts, not many choose to pursue SES jobs these days. Senior execs either retire early or transfer to a private firm. A 2014 report from The George Washington University proves this saying there’s a 36 percent increase in the number of resigning SES staffs since 2009.

Do you wonder why they do so? Then, let’s study the roots.

SES Jobs Pay Grade Defined

Don’t know what “pay grade” is? Well, SES jobs or not, this refers to the worker’s salary range and benefits. Both public and private sectors use this scheme and base their decisions on two factors:

1. The level of responsibility needed for the job.
2. The experience or length of time the person has performed the job.

General Schedule (GS), on the other hand, is the chief pay scale used in public sector jobs. It consists of 15-grade levels, GS-1 being the lowest wage earner and GS-15 the highest.

But unlike other high income jobs that follow the GS scheme, SES jobs have their own system to figure out wages. Besides being under an agency’s discretion, SES’ salaries also do not include any locality pay adjustment. The lowest pay grade is 120 percent of the basic salary for GS-15 Level 1 workers, which is equal to $119,554.

SES Jobs Issues and Concerns

Pay compression is an ongoing concern for many would-be and existing federal senior execs. Some find the low pay given to SES jobs at fault, while others bash the unsound rewards system set by various agencies. In fact, in an article published on in May 2014, Senior Executive Association (SEA) President Carol Bonosaro opened up about a potential “mass exodus of executives.” He said that unless government officials resolve this issue on pay, many execs might retire early from their SES jobs or just move to private firms.

Surely, these pay issues have made many able and skilled execs weary in pursuing higher posts. Though the debate on pay for SES jobs in the federal gov’t rages on, let’s hope that this will not be a long term threat to the whole nation.

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