How To Become A Public Servant In Australia: Explained

(729 Votes, Average 4.7 out of 5)

Students want to know how they can become public servants in Australia.


Do you want to work in one of the public service fields but need to figure out what a public servant does? You are in the right place!


The Australian Public Service (APS) serves the Australian community. They employ people to become active community members, contributing to Australia's prosperity and security.


Working with APS allows you to pursue your passions. With so many different positions, you can do nearly anything within the public service.


The post below will uncover everything you need to know about becoming a public servant in Australia, including the duties and tasks, different jobs, what is a public servant, courses, qualifications, degrees, salary, and more.



1. What Is A Public Servant In Australia?


A public servant is an individual who is appointed to work for public office in territory, state, or local governments. As it is a diverse profession, you can have a career in management, administration, and technical fields, such as public welfare, health, policyconstruction, and more.


The APS (Australian Public Service) is more than just a job. It is an excellent opportunity for a broad spectrum of people, including those seeking a change of profession, individuals returning to the workforce, and even graduates.


The APS regulates and develops laws, including programs and policies that assist various aspects of society, thereby protecting Australia's borders and boosting its economy.


Being a part of the Australian Public Service means you will actively participate in the country's development. This further means that you must constantly think of the future, work across borders, and impartially serve all Australians and the government.


Most Australians are eligible to work for the APS, which hires more than 150,000 individuals in Australia and throughout the world — and getting a job in the APS isn't as difficult as you would imagine.



2. Duties and Tasks of a Public Servant In Australia


  • Manage, lead, and develop administrative staff to guarantee the smooth functioning of business operations and timely and accurate information supply.

  • Represent the organisation at conventions, negotiations, forums, public hearings, and seminars, and promote new and existing policies and programs. 

  • Manage and develop the organisation's physical, financial, staff, and administrative resources.

  • Provide support and information for the preparation of budgets and financial reports. 

  • Analyse and prepare reports, submissions, and correspondence related to complex resource management initiatives and challenges that affect the organisation.

  • Implement and develop financial, administrative, and operational procedures and standards for the organisation's employees.

  • Provide senior management with high-level strategic planning and administrative and operational assistance. Also, research and advise on organisational issues, such as facility management, staff management, information services, and financial planning.



3. Education Requirements To Become a Public Servant in Australia


You can enter the APS (Australian Public Service) as a Graduate Administrative Assistant or a Trainee Administrative Service Officer. You do not require formal training or academic qualifications to become a Trainee Administrative Service Officer. 


However, agencies and departments usually ask you to provide a Year 10 certificate or equivalent. You will require a bachelor's degree for all other job roles.


To work as a state public servant, you must complete a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or your Year 10. Generally, it all depends on the entry-level position you are applying for. Always remember that your job prospects may improve if you possess the required qualifications or basic skills in administration, data entry, and computing.


Individuals whose expertise, skills, and experience best meet the job criteria will be selected when applying for a public servant position.


Furthermore, each job post in the state government has its standards. Job seekers must demonstrate that they satisfy these requirements by carefully responding to predetermined selection criteria.


Note: You require a degree from a recognised tertiary institution for graduate entry into the state government. Obtaining your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is the best way to enrol into a tertiary institution. 


Additionally, different institutions have different criteria, and some offer flexible requirements and may even provide external study opportunities. Hence, it's always best to contact the institution to gather more information.



4. Types of Public Servant Jobs in Australia


The APS offers a diverse range of positions corresponding to several roles and levels of responsibility. Here are some of them:


  • Stakeholder management, policy advice, strategic decision-making, and program design and implementation.

  • Advice to the public and service delivery.

  • Professional and technical Australian public service jobs include engineers, scientists, lawyers, inspectors, librarians, economists, accountants, and journalists.

  • Corporate services, including accounts processing, information technology, parliamentary and ministerial processes, record management, and human resources.

  • A wide range of administrative and project support jobs.


The APS also offers part-time and full-time jobs on either a permanent (ongoing) or non-permanent (non-ongoing) basis.


Note: You can also apply for occupations offered on a casual (intermittent) or irregular basis.



Let's Learn More About Temporary (Non-Ongoing) Jobs:


Many Australian Public Service agencies use temporary or non-ongoing employment methods to fill short-term openings, typically at short notice. Other recruiting firms in Australia also specialise in placing employees in temporary government positions. 


All in all, for this profession, people usually get selected based on their abilities and skills.


You may contact recruiting firms directly. If you wish to work with a specific APS agency, visit their website to check if they provide an option to register online.


Furthermore, the APS jobs are classified depending on the value of the tasks. The APS job roles are paid and classified at various levels per the skills, responsibilities, and complexity involved.


Note: Each agency has its pay scale, typically outlined in a format in the Enterprise Agreement. You can find it on the agency's website.


The following are the most common APS job classifications:


  • APS 1 & 2 - Service and general administrative roles.


  • APS 3 & 4 - Public contact, project, technical, service, and general administrative positions.


  • APS 5 & 6 - Policy, project, technical, service, and senior administrative positions that may involve supervisory duties.


  • Training Classifications - Job roles that require the completion of a training program. These are graduate and trainee positions.


  • Senior Executive Service Band 1, 2 & 3 - Management and senior leadership roles.


  • Executive Levels 1 & 2 - Professional or middle management positions.


Classifications paired together, such as APS 3 & 4, are known as broadbands. Some APS firms promote the job roles as broadbands, implying that moving from one position to the next is more accessible, such as from an APS 3 to an APS 4. 


Remember that you must possess proper skills and perform exceptionally well to advance through broadband and reach a higher level.


The APS agencies might use different terminologies and job titles to characterise their positions. The additional information and the job description help determine if you have the required experience and skills for that position.


Furthermore, a contact officer can provide more information about the job's responsibilities and tasks.



Let's Learn About Entry-Level Lobs: 


People who have previously worked in the community, private, or other government sectors can apply for Australian Public Service jobs. The APS provides entry points for individuals who are learning new skills to switch jobs or are just starting their careers.


These individuals may include:




Graduates typically work at levels corresponding to APS 3 to 4. On the other hand, cadetship jobs, traineeships, school leaver programs, and apprenticeships work at levels equal to APS 1 to 2.


Most agencies conduct yearly entry-level recruiting campaigns, mostly advertised on agency websites, social media, and occasionally in newspapers and the Public Service Gazette at


In most cases, you need to fill out an online application form. If you are selected based on your application, you will be invited to the assessment centre to give an interview


Suppose you identify as a Torres Strait Islander or an Aboriginal. You can also look into Indigenous career pathways for graduates, cadets, or trainees.


The Indigenous Cadetship Support initiative provides opportunities for Indigenous Australians to work while studying. This employment program is to help Indigenous job seekers take professional roles in the government and private sectors.


For additional information, refer to the Department of Employment's website -


You can also check the Indigenous careers page on the Australian government's website. It provides access to recognised job opportunities and affirmative measures to view current openings.


Note: Indigenous individuals are encouraged to apply for employment under all APS fields, regardless of whether they are under one of the categories.



5. How To Apply For an APS Job?


Some of your options include the following:



  • Enrol for a temporary employment register to be considered for short-term work. You can find these registers on APSjobs, websites of many APS agencies, and sometimes through recruitment firms.


  • Apply for apprenticeships, traineeships, school leaver programs, internships, Australian public service graduate programs, or cadetships.


All in all, when applying for a job, take your time to double-check all the required information. There might be specific prerequisites for each job position, such as submitting a written application, sending a CV, or filling out an application form.



6. What Are The Australian Public Service Pay Rates?


The average annual public servant salary in Australia is around AUD 88,000. Public servant salaries can range between AUD 60,000 and AUD 130,000, depending on the classification level and the state or city you work in.


According to the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), the current salary for various ranks in APSC are:


Classification Salary (in $)
Graduates 67,661
APS 1 52,792
APS 2 58,059
APS 3 66,563
APS 4 76,103
APS 5 82,059
APS 6 95,873
EL 1 119,651
EL 2 148,315



The above salary figures will now have to increase by 5.75% in line with the Fair Work decision.


If you want to know how much an APS 5 gets paid, the current pay for APS 5 is 82,059 per year. 


How much does APS 6 pay in Australia? The current pay for APS 6 is $ 95,873 per year.



7. Australian Public Service Benefits


Here are some benefits of joining the Australian Public Service (APS):



Improved Work-Life Balance


If you want a better work-life balance, you should join the public sector because of the employment agreements and rewards that maintain short work hours. You can also work overtime, which you can use in the form of flexible leave.



Make a Difference in The Community


When done right, public service can have a significant impact on communities and individuals. Such types of jobs are best for individuals who want to contribute to making a difference in the lives of others surrounding them.



Staff Training


Agencies in the public sector mainly focus on helping their employees reach their full potential. Employees are frequently encouraged, if not compelled, to further their professional development by engaging in training programs.



Improve Your Resume


Getting experience in several fields is an excellent way to build a well-rounded CV. Many professions in the public sector offer excellent opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience.


It is important to note that the complexities and challenges in government jobs differ from those in the private sector.



Job Security


Job security is one of the most stressful aspects of working in the private sector. Businesses in the private sector are constantly merging, changing, and reorganising, putting a lot of strain on workers who rely on their income to pay their expenses.


Such issues are rare in the public sector; unlike a private company, the government will never go out of business.



8. What Are The Ranks in The Australian Public Service?


Here are the Levels/ Classifications in the Australian Public Service:


Levels/Classification Classification Categories Common Job Titles



Secretary and equivalents

Senior Executive Service Band 3 Executive General Manager Executive General Manager, Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Secretary, Deputy Commissioner, Chief Medical Officers, Chief Operating Officers
Senior Executive Service Band 2 General Manager General Manager, First Assistant Secretary, First Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Secretary, National Manager, Assistant Commissioner, Chief People Officer
Senior Executive Service Band 1 General Manager Same as above
Executive Level 2 Manager Manager, Director, Senior Advisor
Executive Level 1 Core Officer – Expert Principal Customer Services Officer, Policy Adviser, HR Adviser, IT Project Officer, Team Leader, Tax Specialist, Scrum Master, Lead Developer, Statistician

Core-Officer - Advanced Senior Customer Service Officer, Policy Adviser, Client Engagement Officer/Analyst, Team Leader, Program/Project Manager, Senior EA, Data Scientist, Economist, Senior Inspector
APS 5 Core-Officer – Advanced Same as above

Core – Officer - Primary Customer service, Service delivery, HR/Communications/Legal Officer, Policy Adviser, Regulatory/Data Analyst, Lawyer, Team Leader, EA, Administrative Assistant
APS 3 Core – Officer – Primary Same as above
APS 2 Core – Officer – Primary Same ss above
APS 1 Core – Officer – Primary Same as above
Graduate/Trainee Entry Graduate Officer, Training Program Officer




9. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Who Employs Public Servants in Australia?


Public servants work at all government levels, from the Federal, State, and local to special districts.



What Degree Do You Need To Work in Local Government?


You usually don't require any standard qualification to start working in local government agencies, councils, or departments across regional and metropolitan areas. Although most departments and agencies usually require Year 10.


Apprenticeships and Traineeships are good options for starters to get a trade qualification and work in government councils simultaneously.


Graduate entry into the APS must gain the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education and complete a degree from a recognised tertiary institution. Common study areas include planning, environmental health, human resources, engineering, and project management.


If you aspire for senior roles within the local government, completing a bachelor's or master's degree in political science, economics, public administration, public health, business administration, public policy, or international relations can open various opportunities.



Is The Local Government in Australia Public Service?


The public services in Australia comprise departments and other government organisations. It covers the following levels of government:


  • Federal or Commonwealth

  • State and territory

  • Local government

  • Special districts


All individuals employed in statutory authorities, local councils, parliament, as well as various government departments, authorities, and agencies established by or accountable to State parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament, are considered public officials.


Are All Government Employees Public Service Officers?


No. Not all government employees are public service officers in Australia.


For example, if a government employee is appointed casually or to assist a political office holder, they are probably not public service officers.


You can look at your appointment letter to determine whether you are a public service officer. Suppose you are appointed as 'permanent' or 'fixed term,' and your employer is a government department. In that case, you are a public service officer.


You can also check with the HR department of your employer for appointment details.



What is A Council Worker in Australia?


Outdoor council workers work for local government bodies to build and maintain roads, gutters, flood controls, footpaths, fire controls, drainage, water mains, parks and gardens, sewerage, and rubbish disposal services.



Is a Public Servant a Public Officer?


Yes. A public servant is a public officer in Australia.



Are Teachers Public Servants in Australia?


Yes. Public servants represent various public employees, including law enforcement officers, teachers, school employees, firefighters, and local government employees.



What Are Examples of Public Servants in Australia?


Public servants in the Australian Public Service work in numerous areas, such as:


  • Community and social services

  • Housing

  • Economic management

  • Education

  • Defence

  • Employment

  • Health

  • Foreign affairs

  • Industrial relations

  • Transport



Who is a Local Government Worker?


Local government officers in Australia work for local councils.


They are employed in a department such as housing, education, social work, or planning and work as directed by local councillors.


Their main job is to ensure council policies are implemented and services are delivered correctly.



Are Local Council Workers Public Servants?


Yes. Local council workers are public servants in Australia. Besides them, judges, magistrates, and members of Parliament are all public officials.



What is the Difference Between Public Service and Public Sector?


"Public Service" and "Public Sector" are often used interchangeably but differ. 


 "Public sector" refers to all government organisations and their employees. It excludes employees of private sector companies and non-government organisations.


"Public Service" is central to the government's administrative machinery. It comprises the government departments and ministries with a majority shareholding in government, such as government foundations, statutory authorities and agencies, and companies.


Public Service employees are called public officers and Government employees. However, public sector entities are regulated by a legal personality separate from the government.


It implies that public sector entities belong to the government but aren't part of it. Accordingly, their public sector employees are not public officers or government employees.



Why Do You Want to Work in The Australian Public Service?


Joining Australian Public Service (APS) offers variety and a range of benefits, including:


  • Generous leave 

  • Flexible working conditions

  • Above-average superannuation contributions

  • The opportunity to positively impact the future of Australians gives your life a sense of purpose.

  • Keeps your mind adaptive and active 

  • Let you explore innovative ways to solve old issues.

  • You will always find opportunities to be resourceful and put your skills into practice.

  • From tradespeople to senior executives, a job in APS offers variety for all professionals. You can pursue work in local, state, and federal government departments based on your specialisation and expertise.

  • The Australian public service is broad. You can easily find a career path with more stability.  


Whether you are just starting in your career or have experience in the private sector and seeking a career change, you have plenty of opportunities at various positions such as entry-level, technical, and management positions as well as project, policy, and support roles.



How Many Public Servants Are There in Australia?


According to ABS, there were 2,420,600 public sector employees at the end of June 2022. It includes:


  • 364,300 employees in the Commonwealth government

  • 1,847,400 in state government

  • 208,900 in local government.



Are Australia Post Wrokers Public Servants?


Yes. Australia Post is a Government Business Enterprise that operates under the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 and the Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act 2013.


It is an entirely self-funded business with community service and commercial responsibilities. Thus, employees working in Australia Post are regulated directly by the government, not by any separate legal entity.



Are Nurses Public Servants in Australia?


Yes. Nurses are public servants regulated by statute in the Nurses Registration Act 1923.


These health professionals are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA).


Nurses employed in public hospitals or other public medical settings are considered public servants in Australia.


If you think a position in the Australian Public Service might be a good fit, you should explore your options today and get the job of your dreams!


Useful Links to Explore:

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Please Subscribe to our Newsletter