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Average Tenure in Public and Private Sectors

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What is the average tenure in public versus private sectors?

When choosing a career, consider a field in which you will be changing companies often, or staying at one or two companies until retirement.

Certain industries have longer tenure tracts for the employees than others, and education plays a factor in work tenure as well.

People who have higher education have longer tenure, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in their "Spotlight on Statistics":

"Among workers age 25 and older, those with at least a high school education were more likely to have 10 years or more with their current employer than those with less than a high school education. For example, 27 percent of workers with less than a high school diploma had 10 years or more of tenure, compared with 36 percent of those with only a high school diploma (no college)."

Bureau of Labor Statistics

If this trend were continued, those with a college degree would have more tenure than those without a college degree, and those who have graduate degrees would have even more tenure. The average amount of tenure, for all industries and fields of employment (including public and private), for January 2012, was 4.6 years.

The private sector's average tenure was slightly below the average at 4.2 years, whereas the public sector's average was significantly higher at 7.8 years, with the Federal Government at the highest, with 9.5 years.

The private sector industry with the highest tenure was in manufacturing, with 6.0 years. Given that the private sector is financially motivated may have an impact on these tenure averages.

Also, job security has historically been high in the public sector, where jobs are created and very rarely done away with.

Considering the tenure averages may have a bearing on your chosen career field; if longer tenure tracks are desired, a serious consideration may be given to public careers. If you're of the disposition who likes change and risk (with the possibility of high financial gains), try your hand at the private sector.

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