Public Vs. Private – Which Sector Is Right For Your Tech Career?

Your Opinion
Published: 05.08.22

The public sector refers to all organisations that are owned, controlled or managed by the government. Just like its name suggests, all public sector organisations exist to benefit the public – think education, healthcare, local councils, and emergency services.

On the other hand, the private sector refers to businesses run for profit that aren’t under direct control of the government – like Apple, Amazon and Mimecast. This is the avenue that most tech professionals go down, but here’s why you shouldn’t write the public sector off just yet…

Why choose private?

Typically, when people are deciding between tech roles in the public or private sector, they see the latter as the glamorous side of things, where you’ll have the opportunity to work on big, exciting projects that’ll make waves in Silicon Valley.

But you’ll often find that tech roles are quite similar on both sides of the spectrum. For instance, if you work in software development, the languages you code in will be the same. Likewise, if you’re a data analyst, the problems you’ll be solving will be equally complex. Plus, working in the public sector can be just as rewarding – if not more:

Job security 

When you work in the private sector, most of the company decisions made are based on revenue – specifically, how the company can boost profits and maximise value for their shareholders. Working for a government organisation removes these pressures, giving you increased job security in the event of, say, a recession or a global health crisis (too soon?).

Career development

A common misconception – especially when it comes to tech roles – is that working in the public sector will place a government-funded ceiling on opportunity and ultimately stunt your career development. However, the opposite is true; government offices are more inclined to invest in skill development than private sector employers, training you up to bridge skill gaps.

Attractive benefits 

While private sector salaries are undoubtedly higher on average than public sector wages, the public sector makes up the difference with a range of attractive benefits like guaranteed pension schemes and health insurance. Government employers are also empathetic to varying circumstances, and flexible working hours and shift work are fairly common.

Work-life balance 

In a similar vein, work-life balance has come on in leaps and bounds since COVID-19 made remote working the norm, but a strong work-life balance has always been present in the public sector. In addition to benefiting from things like ‘flexitime’, public sector employees will work less hours than those in the private sector in general – with the ability to take time owing or share tasks to ensure fair workloads. 

Job migration

Just like it’s easier to move internally when you work for a private company, when you work in the public sector, you’ll have the opportunity to move across different sectors or trusts. This gives you more room to change direction and settle into a role that suits you. Another bonus of working in the public sector can be the chance to take a sabbatical – a short break from your career that gives you time to focus on your personal development. 

That warm feeling inside

Last but by no means least, when you work public over private, you have a chance to make positive changes in your community; your work could even affect the course of the nation. This instils in you not just pride, but responsibility – and what better incentive is there than a sense of purpose?

No matter which side you choose…

Let Cathcart Technology plan your next move. Our team has vast experience hiring for technology roles in both sectors, and we’re committed to finding your perfect fit. Get in touch with us today.

Sam Wason Selfie

Co-founder and Joint MD

Sam Wason


Your Opinion

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