August 12, 2015

What Do US Government Agencies Actually Do

The United States government is one of the largest employers in the world. Millions of people work in a wide variety of federal departments and agencies. While most of these federal government employees work in the United States, there are also opportunities around the globe. If you have the chance, working for the US government is a fantastic opportunity.

Government Building with US Flag Photo

When trying to find a US government job, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of information. There are countless departments and agencies to apply to. As a federal government employee you might be a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park, a corrections officer at Leavenworth Penitentiary, an ambassador in France, a Peace Corp worker in rural Uruguay, a spy in Beijing, a TSA officer at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, a museum curator in Washington DC, an atmospheric scientist in Colorado, or a bodyguard for the President. Your options are endless.

Learn More About Government Jobs

The key to finding the right government job for you is to pick the right department or agency. It’s overwhelming, so where do you begin? What do all the acronyms mean? USGS, NPS, NSA, DEA, SSA, ATF, FEMA, BLM, BLS, USPS, and the list goes on. What do all of these government agencies do?

Entire books have been written about US government agencies and departments. Here’s a quick preview of a handful of popular government agencies and departments and what they specialize in:

  1. Social Security Administration – The SSA is a social insurance agency that helps Americans as they grow older.
  2. Coast Guard – As a branch of the US Armed Forces, the Coast Guard enforces maritime law in both domestic and international waters.
  3. US Department of Justice – The Justice Department is overseen by the Attorney General. This department focuses on law and justice on the federal level.
  4. Central Intelligence Agency – The CIA is a foreign intelligence agency that focuses on national security from a global perspective.
  5. Federal Bureau of Investigations – The FBI is a law enforcement agency that focuses on intelligence and security within the United States.
  6. National Security Agency – The NSA is an intelligence organization that collects and analyzes data through passive electronic surveillance and clandestine missions.
  7. Secret Service – The Secret Service is a law enforcement agency focusing on financial crimes and protecting national leaders.
  8. US Customs and Border Protection – As a law enforcement agency, the CBP protects the borders, enforces immigration and customs laws, and deals with international trade.
  9. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – The ATF is a law enforcement agency that specializes in terrorism, violent crimes, and trafficking.
  10. Drug Enforcement Agency – The DEA enforces laws pertaining to controlled substances.
  11. Transportation Security Administration – The TSA ensures that all passengers can travel safely throughout the US.
  12. US Census Bureau – The US Census Bureau collects and produces data about the economy and the American people.
  13. US Food and Drug Administration – The FDA regulates public health. They monitor products like medicines, food, vaccines, cosmetics, and more.
  14. Federal Aviation Administration – The FAA regulates the world of aviation including pilot licenses, technology, commercial airspace, and noise.
  15. Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA is responsible for disaster relief when local and state resources are overwhelmed.
  16. Federal Maritime Commission – The FMC regulates international transportation.
  17. USDA Forest Service – The USFS manages 154 national forests, 20 national grasslands, and 193 million acres or public land.
  18. US Immigrations an Customs Enforcement – ICE focuses on immigration issues both in the US and abroad.
  19. Internal Revenue Service – The IRS collects taxes and enforces tax laws.
  20. National Aeronautics & Space Administration – NASA is responsible for aerospace research and civilian space programs.
  21. National Park Service – The NPS manages 59 national parks in the US.
  22. Bureau of Land Management – The BLM is an agency that oversees 247.3 million acres of public lands like national monuments, protected areas, and wilderness areas.
  23. US Fish and Wildlife Service – The FWS manages fish, wildlife, and natural habitats across the US.
  24. US Environmental Protection Agency – The EPA enforces regulations pertaining to the environment.
  25. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration – NOAA is a science based organization that focuses on the oceans, the atmosphere, and the weather.
  26. US Postal Service – The USPS processes and delivers mail across the US.
  27. Smithsonian Institute – The Smithsonian Institute is a collection of museums and research centers.
  28. Peace Corp – The Peace Corp promotes peace through aid, development, and friendship in developing countries and emerging areas.

Which of these US government agencies do you want to work for? If you don’t see one here that appeals to you, there are plenty of other large, small, and/or obscure government agencies to choose from. Maybe you’re keen to learn more about the FCC, NGA, NTSB, SEC, BLS, or FTC? There are so many government agencies and departments that it’s hard to keep track of them all! USAJobs.gov has a full list of US government agencies and departments where you can learn more about your next employer.

Discover The Top Paying Government Jobs

The US Government has tons of cool seasonal and year round jobs available. It seems like they are always hiring somewhere! Start your job search for a US government job on the JobMonkey JobCenter today.

About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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