Working in Private vs Public Sector

Working in Private vs Public Sector: Which is Better?

World economies are divided into the public and private sectors. Jobs are only available in either sector. While the public sector is mainly about providing essential services, the private sector is profit-making driven. Although you may also find aid agencies and charitable organizations in both private and public sectors, their objectives and mandate are hardly the same. If you are searching for employment, you may consider either or both private and public sector jobs.


The private sector

This sector encompasses households, businesses, and organizations in different fields of human endeavor. Their activities cut across sub-sectors like retail services, mining, construction, hospitality and leisure, manufacturing, and so on. They are owned and managed by private individuals. Institutions within this sector focus on entrepreneurial activities; Providing jobs through the production of goods and rendering of services to generate profits. The private sector is competitive and survival depends on efficiency, effectiveness, and efficacy.


Features of the private sector

  1. Profit-making: private enterprises operate to generate revenue to cover expenditure, and the surplus as gain. Profit maximization is the motive and the primary feature of this sector. Whether is a small company, or a publicly traded corporation, no firm can survive in this sector without profits.
  2. Private individuals Own and manage the institutions in this sector: here, a sole proprietor owns and manages his business so also do private institutions or individuals hold majority share ownership in publicly traded companies.
  3. Large private enterprises obtain capital from issuing shares or debentures on the stock exchange. While SMEs source their finance from personal savings or loans.
  4. The major source of revenue in the private sector is from the sale of products and services
  5. Invention and innovation is an essential features of the sector: The focus is always to increase profit potential, this is done through improving products and services or finding cheaper ways of producing them.
  6. Firms in the private sector are competitive. Each firm wants to dominate the market; this always keeps them at their utmost best.


Benefits of working in the private sector  

  • Workers in the private sector get more opportunities for career advancement because the decision is based on performance.
  • Private sector employees have high opportunities for a pay rise: this is so because private-sector workers can get an increase in salary based on their output and productivity.
  • The sector offers more diversity in job opportunities, making it easy for individuals to find work base on their abilities and interest.


The public sector  

The public sector consists of government and all publicly controlled or state-funded agencies, departments, enterprises, and other entities that deliver public programs, goods, or services. Its core mandate is to provide public goods and governmental services such as law enforcement, defense, infrastructure, public transport, healthcare, and public education. The public sector provides services that benefit all of society rather than just the individual that uses them. Being it at federal, state, or local governments’ level, government workers are civil servants, elected officials, or publicly funded contractors; Although these contractors maybe, but for the most part are not, part of the public sector. Public organizations typically do not seek profits but rather the greater good of the entire society.

Features of the public sector

  1. Public organizations function under the direct control of the government. Some are even established under status and companies act; So they operate as either autonomous or semi-autonomous entities
  2. The main purpose of establishing public corporations and agencies is to serve the citizenry. They supply essential goods and services at reasonable prices and also create job opportunities.
  3. Their services are for all sections of society, irrespective of association, affiliation, or inclination.
  4. Public institutions are accountable and liable to the public for their actions.
  5. They are mediums of implementing the economic, political, and social plans as well as policies of the government.
  6. Governments make the primary investment in public sector enterprises. However, they do not avail funds for its day-to-day running, making it financially independent


Benefits of working in the public sector

  • Public work puts you in a position to make a difference in your community: when public services are properly rendered, it makes a huge impact on individuals and communities. Hence, public work is suited for people who are passionate about making positive impacts that will benefit those around them.
  • Improves work and life balance: public work provides more employment awards and agreements that preserve shorter working hours, allowing you enough time for family and friends.
  • Public jobs offer job security: one common feature of the private sector is job insecurity, due to constant growth, restructuring, mergers, and bankruptcy. This kind of concern hardly exists in the public sector because governments will unlikely go out of business.
  • Good working atmosphere: the public sector has a less demanding working environment than the private sector. Employees are not under pressure to make profits. Although working standards are supposedly high in the public sector there isn’t much competitiveness which is often common in the private sector.


Differences between private and public sector jobs

In the private sector, individuals are employed through business owners, corporations, or other non-governmental agencies. These jobs include those in financial services, ICT, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, and so on. Employees are paid with the firm’s surplus and tend to have more career choices, greater opportunities for advancement, less job security, less comprehensive benefits plan than public employees. Work in the private sector is more competitive; Thus longer hours in a more demanding environment.

While the public sector employs workers through federal, state, or local government in their ministries, departments, or agencies. They are normal civil or public service jobs as emergency services, health care delivery, arm forces, teaching, and various regulatory and administrative agencies as well public corporations. Workers’ remuneration is sourced from taxes and other sources of government revenues. Workers here tend to have more comprehensive benefit plans and job security; Once the probationary period elapses, most government positions become permanent appointments, except for elective or tenure appointments. Promotion is not guaranteed neither is professional growth.



When deciding on the sector you want to work in, it is important to look through its benefits and downsides. While there are particular benefits of working in both sectors, there are many similarities. People have different preferences and priorities. For instance, if you are interested in job security and other plumb benefits, the public sector is where to look, on the other hand, if you want to advance your career and face professional challenges, the private sector is best suited for you.

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