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VoiceTAP Careers and Colleges Series – Civil Services as a career

By on May 24, 2009 in On A Whim | 8 comments

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For the ‘Civil Services as a career‘ call in the careers and colleges series of VoiceTAP we had Pradeep Mishra (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Personnel) who is an IAS officer himself. This was a really interesting call – probably the most interesting one so far!

Listen to VoiceTAP Civil Services as a career call by clicking here

Civil Services in India – In a nutshell

Civil Services in India can be divided into the following categories on basis of the kind of work that a civil servant would take up, exams for which (for central level) are conducted by the UPSC:

There are many other different cadres, which are assigned to a successful candidate by UPSC on the basis of how well they perform in the entrance exams. Getting is tough – candidates are advised to start preparing three years in advance! Evidently, selection is difficult because just a handful of candidates are chosen out of the hundreds of thousands who give the exam. Considerable grasp of general knowledge, government functioning and structure of society is necessary. Some papers are mandatory, but among the optional papers you’re advised to stick to subjects which you’re familiar with – rather than get taken in by talk of ‘X subject is easier’.

Once you pass the gruelling Civil Services Examination you’re allocated to a state cadre at village level. Yes, you have to start right from the bottom. This is considered necessary to give a good grounding on the harsh realities of India. After that, you progress on to district magistrate level, state secretary et al till the highest position of Secretary in some ministry at the central level. (A Secretary is just one level below a cabinet minister.)

Starting salary is around Rs 35000 (per month) and scales up to Rs 1 lakh for IAS officers in the senior most positions. Perks are also given, such as (almost) free housing, telephone, transport, etc. But more than financial remuneration the reason why most people join the civil services is the amount of respect they get in their position (that’s a lot of respect they get) and the ability to actually effect policy decisions that change a common man’s life for the better. That by far is the biggest job satisfaction factor involved in being a civil servant. A small minority of civil services officers also move on to join at senior management levels in public sector undertakings, or even private companies.

Bottom Line

In the current atmosphere of youth charged up to bring about reforms in the country, being a part of the system and making lives better as a civil servant is a career path which can bring you a lot of job satisfaction.

PS – I’m not even going to try assuming that I can suggest ‘further reading’ for civil services exams.


  1. cd

    May 26, 2009

    Post a Reply

    I heard something about becoming a class 1 officer if you top the exam and a class 2 officer requiring another 14 years to get class 1 status. This, coupled with the “starting at grass roots” phrase has left me confused.

      • cd

        May 26, 2009

        thank you

    • Cd,

      Thanks for reaching out with your query. What Mr. Misra was refering to was the various types of services.

      People who secure higher ranks get the Class 1 services (think IAS, IPS etc.), the people who get a lower rank get Class 2 services (PCS etc.). Even if you get a lower rank – you are eligible for promotion to the Class 1 services post 8 years. Usually it takes a bit more time (around 10 – 12 years).

      Trust that helps.


      The Voicetap team

      • Parth sINGH

        June 1, 2009

        Sir the class 2 service is not an all india service
        for eg

        IAS is an all india service whith its calss 2 version being provincial civil service
        after8-10 years you migh get a posting comparable to the starting post of an IAS and you are still called a P.F.S.

        Indian Forest Service is an all INdia service while Provincial Forect service is a class 2 service.
        An IFS becomes a D.F.O. immediately after probation while P.F.S. people become d.f.o. after 14-15 years.

        Plus P.C.S. AND P.F.S. are not central services so you wont be deputed to central sercetariates.
        You are not gazzeted in All India Gazette Notification but in state gazzetes.
        In short a class 2 officer works under a class i officer.
        For all India civil services go to and for pacs pfs or class 2 services go to r respective state commissios.
        In a crude way a class 1 officer is a M.P. while a class 2 officer is an M.L.A. UNDER DIRECT COMMAND:d

      • Ankur

        June 1, 2009

        Yes, but as it was pointed out in a comment from the VoiceTAP team, it will take just 2-3 more years than joining in class 2 rank than class 1 rank to be promoted to higher levels.

      • Parth singh

        June 9, 2009

        NO, sir in class 2 services u just are not promoted to higher levels.I will post the heirarchy of indian forest service which will outline the difference between a class 1 and class 2 service.
        An I.F.S. starts at D.C.F./D.F.O. rank after probation while a P.F.S. highest posting will be of d.f.o. at the most and even after becoming a d.f.o. he doesn’t become an I.F.S. and u become a D.F.O. after 14-15 years if u are a pfs not 2-3 years.:
        FIRST come all india services:

        IN your article u shud mention that indian forest service has a seperate exam and clubbing foreign service with forest service is not correct as it comesa after forest service in order of precedence govt of india

      • Parth singh

        June 9, 2009

        waiting for ur review of


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