Reasons to Work in a State Capital City

Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison
Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison. Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

A state capital generally has more state government jobs than any other city in the state. For those who want to work in state government -- or any level of government for that matter -- a state capital provides plenty of opportunity to land a job. Here are the primary reasons to work in a state capital city.

Central Office Jobs Pay More

Almost all state agencies are headquartered in the state capital.

That means the people who make the most money work in the capital city. This goes beyond the executive team. Those individuals make more based on their position.

People in front-line positions make more than front-line personnel in field offices. This happens for several reasons.

First, central office personnel support and at times direct actions taken by field staff. Many times front-line central office staff need to outrank front-line and even supervisory field staff. Front-line supervisors in the field may give up management responsibilities to take a central office job.

Second, front-line central office staff report to managers with broader spans of authority. Managers in the central office often have authority over some aspect of statewide operations. Central office managers seek to balance consistency with flexibility. Field managers need to have the freedom to address individual situations that come to them, but there needs to be some consistency among the levels of service citizens receive in different parts of the state.

A field manager’s authority is limited to a defined geographic area.

Third, central office staff tend to have more tenure. Since these positions are promotions for field staff, many times field staff are hired to fill central office positions. Those with proven track records with the organization stand a better chance of getting hired to a central office job than those with little or no experience with the organization.

More Job Opportunities within State Government

For those that want a variety of jobs over the course of their careers, state government can provide that. In capital cities, drastically different agencies can be headquartered in the same office building. To get a completely different job with a completely different agency, all you have to do it get hired by someone on another floor. On top of that, your daily commute doesn’t change.

Bear in mind that jumping from agency to agency will get you pay raises, but you are unlikely to move into greater and greater management roles. Upper-level managers tend to be promoted from within the organization. Hopping around will help you find the agency with the culture and opportunities best for you.

More Job Opportunities Outside State Government

Not only are there ample job opportunities within state government, a state capital city offers other opportunities.

The capital city, surrounding suburbs and the county government offer local government jobs. As with any midsize to large city, bigger populations mean greater demand for firefighters, police officers, teachers and other local government workers.

Lobbying firms have headquarters or offices in the city.

They are busy year-round, but they reach a frenetic pace when legislators are in town. These firms value individuals who have intimate knowledge of the people and inner workings of government agencies relevant to their lobbying efforts.

Federal field offices are located in capital cities. Federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs have field offices all over the nation. State capitals provide a good base of operation for federal field offices.

Capital cities often have more than one university. For example, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University-San Marcos, Southwestern University, St. Edward’s University and Concordia University are all within a 30-mile radius of the Texas Capitol Building. Not only do such institutions offer advanced degrees for government employees, they are also potential employers.

Being Close to the Political Action

Working in a state capital provides a front row seat to the interaction between state politics and public administration. Many times it is more than a front row seat. Central office staff analyze bills under consideration by the state legislature. Those analyses make it into the hands of agency leaders as they prepare to testify about those bills. Requests for data and public records come through the central office as well.

Educational Opportunities Targeting Government Employees

Universities near large populations of government employees seek to capitalize on that market by offering online and night school programs for the degrees and certifications most often needed by government workers. Master’s programs in public administration, public affairs and social work are common among those tailored to meet the needs of public servants.

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