Not everybody wants to be President of the United States – it means forever giving up your status as a private citizen. Instead, many people who want to work in the center of power without being in the spotlight seek out executive branch jobs. Executive branch jobs are positions that fall within the executive branch of government, the part headed by the president. The other branches are legislative (Congress) and judicial (The Supreme Court).
While there are many types of executive branch jobs, they fall primarily into two categories: career and non-career. We’ll start with non-career jobs.
Non-career executive branch jobs
Despite the implications of the term “non-career,” these are actually high-level jobs. Some even require Senate confirmation. In fact, this category includes the members of the president’s cabinet. These presidential appointments are called “non-career” simply because they typically last only for the term of the president who hires you. While the next president may choose to ask you to stay, he’s under no obligation to do so, and most prefer to bring in their own team.
To find a non-career job in the executive branch, start with whitehouse.gov. Then sit back and wait. Even if there is a position available that suits your skill set, there is a lengthy and personal vetting process. First, there’s an FBI background check, but it doesn’t stop there. The FBI will hold in-person interviews with your family, friends, colleagues, etc. You’ll also be asked some very personal questions about your private life. It makes sense when you think about it. As a worst-case scenario, people with secrets can be blackmailed. At best, there’s the risk of information coming out later that would embarrass the administration. (This is yet another reason why sexting and party-all-night selfies are a bad idea.) So there’s a very thorough attempt to unearth any skeletons before you’re hired. Expect a credit check, too – people with enormous debt are also considered to be a blackmail risk. The bottom line, though, is that if you make it through the application and vetting processes, you’ll gain experience that you’d find nowhere else in the world and make connections that could benefit you for the rest of your life.
If you don’t see anything that appeals to you right now, keep your eyes open. Since President Obama is in his second term – all that’s allowed by the U.S. Constitution – there will definitely be a change of administration after the 2016 election, regardless of which party wins. That means there will likely be many open positions.
Career executive branch jobs
Unlike non-career positions, career positions aren’t tied to a specific presidential administration. People typically start in entry-level positions and work their way up through the course of an entire career. Typically, the job is with a government agency rather than the White House itself. In fact, many of the jobs aren’t even in Washington, D.C.
You can search for available jobs by keyword at usajobs.gov. The vetting process varies depending on the specific position, but you can still expect more investigation into your background and personal life than if you were applying for a job in the private sector.
See also: How to Find a Federal Job
The federal government is huge and encompasses just about every profession imaginable. If you have a squeaky-clean background and a desire to see history being made every day, a job with the executive branch of the U.S. federal government could be just what you’re looking for.