Difference Wiki

Civil Service vs. Public Service: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 19, 2024
Civil service refers to government employees excluding military, while public service encompasses all services provided by government, including civil service.

Key Differences

Civil service is specifically the body of government employees who are not part of the legislative, judicial, or military branches. Public service, in contrast, includes all services provided by the government, such as education, healthcare, and civil service roles.
Civil servants are employed by government agencies to implement legislation and policies. Public service is broader, involving not just employment, but also volunteer work and roles in non-profit organizations serving the public interest.
Entry into the civil service often requires passing competitive examinations and is focused on maintaining government infrastructure. Public service, however, can be accessed through various means and focuses on contributing to the welfare of the community at large.
Civil service roles are typically career-oriented with specific job functions. Public service encompasses a wider range of activities, including short-term projects and community service efforts.
In civil service, employees have specific responsibilities to uphold laws and government policies. Public service is more diverse, extending to any effort that aims to serve the public, including volunteer work and non-governmental roles.

Comparison Chart


Government employees excluding military and elected officials
All services provided by the government, including civil service


Specific to government employment
Broader, includes government and non-profit sectors

Entry Requirements

Often requires competitive exams
Varied, including voluntary participation

Nature of Work

Career-oriented, specific roles
Diverse, including temporary or volunteer roles

Main Focus

Implementing government policies
Serving public interest in various capacities

Civil Service and Public Service Definitions

Civil Service

A career field involving working for government departments.
His lifelong civil service career was dedicated to environmental protection.

Public Service

Services provided by the government to its citizens.
The public service of waste management is essential.

Civil Service

The implementation and management of public policies.
Civil service is an integral part of public administration.

Public Service

Activities aimed at improving the community.
Volunteering at the shelter is a form of public service.

Civil Service

Employment within government agencies.
She joined the civil service as a policy analyst.

Public Service

Unpaid work for the public good.
She spent her weekends doing public service in the park.

Civil Service

Government service excluding armed forces.
After considering the military, he chose a civil service path.

Public Service

Responsibility towards the welfare of the community.
Companies often engage in public service through CSR initiatives.

Civil Service

The administrative system governing any large institution.
The civil service is vital for efficient bureaucracy.

Public Service

Work in organizations serving public interests.
Working in a non-profit organization is also a public service.

Public Service

Employment within a governmental system, especially within the civil service.

Public Service

A service performed for the benefit of the public, especially by a nonprofit organization.

Public Service

The business of supplying an essential commodity, such as water or electricity, or a service, such as communications or transportation, to the public.


Can public service be a career?

Yes, many people build careers in public service sectors like healthcare and education.

Do civil servants have to take an oath?

Yes, most civil servants take an oath to uphold the law and serve the public.

Can public service include voluntary work?

Yes, public service encompasses both paid and voluntary work aimed at serving the public.

Are all public servants civil servants?

No, public servants can be in non-governmental roles, while civil servants are government employees.

Is firefighting considered public service?

Yes, firefighting is a vital public service.

Is volunteering at a non-profit a public service?

Yes, volunteering at non-profits is a form of public service.

Are public service announcements a form of public service?

Yes, they are a way to inform and serve the public interest.

Can anyone join the civil service?

Yes, but it often requires passing exams and meeting certain qualifications.

Can civil service jobs be politically influenced?

Ideally, civil service positions should be politically neutral, focusing on policy implementation.

Is civil service only about working in government offices?

Yes, it specifically refers to employment in government agencies.

Is military service considered civil service?

No, military service is separate from civil service.

Can civil service roles influence policy?

Civil servants implement policy, but they typically do not create it.

Is working in a public library a public service?

Yes, working in public libraries is considered a public service.

Are teachers considered civil servants?

In many cases, yes, teachers in public schools are considered civil servants.

Is public service limited to government work?

No, it includes non-governmental efforts to serve the public.

Do civil servants work only in offices?

No, many civil servants work in various settings, including fieldwork.

Do civil servants receive special benefits?

Yes, civil servants often receive benefits like pensions and job security.

Are public service jobs always paid?

Not always, as public service includes volunteer roles.

Can civil servants be elected officials?

No, elected officials are not considered part of the civil service.

Are police officers civil servants?

Yes, police officers are part of the civil service.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons