Public Service: It's in Our DNA

May 8, 2018

We've heard from many PERA members and public employees that working in the public sector requires a “public service gene,” the sense these individuals have that they were called to service.

Employees who choose to go into the public sector understand from Day 1 that it's unlikely they’ll ever become rich—that is, if money is the measure of wealth. Most public employees find that the work they do each and every day is rewarding enough; it’s the love for, and fulfillment they receive from, helping make a difference in their communities and Colorado as a whole that makes them rich in the end. Whether it’s teaching students, testing water samples, clearing debris from a highway, administering fishing or hunting licenses, creating and passing meaningful legislation, or helping a stranded motorist along one of our state highways, public service provides some of the most satisfying work there is.

Sure, public employees receive a pretty good compensation package (cough, the Colorado PERA defined benefit plan, cough), but that’s not the sole reason they do what they do. Their motivation to come to work every day is intrinsic, an ingrained desire to assist others that truly seems to be a part of their DNA. That’s why these dedicated folks are such an integral part of making Colorado the amazing place we all get to work and play.

Last year, released its list of the 10 best jobs of 2017, and it probably won’t come as a surprise that virtually all of the job classifications listed can be found in the public sector. The researchers considered five factors in making their decision: work environment, physical demands, job outlook, income levels, and stress. Included in the list are statistician, operations research analyst, mathematician (think: high school math teacher or college calculus instructor), information security analyst, speech pathologist, and university professor.

But lest we forget, some public service jobs come with inherent risks, including:

  • Emergency personnel dispatched to an accident
  • Highway workers on a busy interstate
  • Counselors to mentally ill patients
  • Corrections employees at state detention facilities
  • Municipal waste collectors
  • Snowplow drivers on Colorado’s mountain passes
  • State troopers patrolling our highways

So, this Public Service Recognition Week, as well as the other 51 weeks in the year, we want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to each and every PERA member and public servant who goes to work for the people of Colorado each and every day (some of them even risking their lives to do so). If there really is such a thing as a “public service gene,” then we’re lucky to have over 560,000 people with that gene right here in Colorado.

Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work in public service? Another blog you might like:

Lessons Learned from My First Year as a Public Employee