Career as an IAS Officer

Career as an IAS Officer

Many talented students(and me too) aspire to have a career as an IAS officers but only the finest and the most talented come out with flying colors in the IAS exams. After the tough selection process, young IAS officers learn through experience and "become".
Ours is a vast country that needs to have distinct systems of management to ensure smooth functioning. The Indian Administrative Service is a branch of the Indian Civil Service. The role of an IAS officer is to see to the administrative matters of the government. Having cleared the mandatory exams and made it to the merit list (only the top 80 become IAS officers), an IAS officer is recruited in the government setup.
Those who have cleared the first frontier of exam and interview are sent for training. During this time they are on probation. After having completed the mandatory training, the officers are posted at the junior level in the administration. Most of them are posted in rural and semi urban areas so that they get a feel of the actual country that they are serving. The service is hierarchical. One has to rise through the ranks, but they have fixed promotion time. So, if someone has spent the necessary amount of time in a particular position, he is automatically promoted to the next level. The key here is experience.
During their tenure, at various ranks, the IAS officers are responsible for managing issues related to administrative functioning of the various departments where they are posted. They frame policies and also advise the ministers on various issues. They are also responsible for maintaining the law and order in their area, if they are posted in that rank. Take the case of the District Magistrate who takes care of overall development in his district as well as looks after the law and order situation.
The branches of the Indian Civil Service are:

  • The Indian Forest Service
  • The Indian Administrative Service
  • The Indian Police Service
  • The Indian Foreign Service
  • The Indian Revenue Service
  • The Indian Post & Telecommunication Accounts and Finance Service
  • The Indian Railway Traffic Service
  • The Railways Protection Force
  • The Indian Defence Estate Service
  • The Defence Secretariat Service
  • The Indian Information Service
  • The Central Industrial Security Force
  • The Indian Railway Personnel Service
  • The Indian Audits & Accounts Service
  • The Indian Railway Accounts Service
  • The Indian Defence Accounts Service
  • The Central Secretariat Service
  • The Union Territories Police Service
  • The Union Territories Administrative Service

State Public Services:

IAS is all India service, other than this, one can also opt for state administrative services, though the cadre recruited in the state administrative service remain junior to those recruited through Indian Civil Services. The SPSC Examinations are conducted by State public service commissions. There are approximately 28 SPSC’s in India. Candidates in the age bracket of 21-28 years are eligible for the exams. The exam pattern is similar to the UPSC exam but with more details on the specific state.

Courses and Eligibility

To become an IAS officer, one has to appear for the Indian Civil Service Examinations. The primary requirement for this is that the aspirant should be holding a bachelor’s degree (any field). Even those with a professional degree like doctors and engineers can also appear for the exam. The second criterion is that they should be in the age group of twenty one to thirty years. This is relaxed for those from the reserved category. The third criterion is that the person should be an Indian National. There is an underlying clause on the number of attempts allowed. The one’s that are belonging to the general category can attempt 4 times, OBCs 7 times and the SC/STs unlimited attempts.

Little bit about the exam:

The Union Public Service Commission is the authority, which conducts the civil services exams annually. The exam is divided into two parts. To make it level playing field for thousands of aspirants who appear for this exam UPSC has introduced changes in 2013. Now there will be 4 general studies papers of 250 marks each. Additional English language paper of 100 marks (Part of PAPER 1) has also been introduced. These marks will count during short listing of candidates for IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS and other government jobs.

The weight age of optional papers is reduced from 1200 to 500 marks and total marks in the Main exam will be 1800. Personality test would carry 275 marks.

The preliminary exam consists of aptitude test(200 marks) and general studies(200 marks). Those who clear the preliminary exam take the main exam which has 7 papers.They are:
  • PaperI - Essay and English Comprehension &English Precis.
  • PaperII -General Studies1: Indian Heritage and Culture,History and Geography of the World and Society.
  • PaperIII -General Studies2: Governance,Constitution,Polity,Social Justice and International Relations.
  • PaperIV -General Studies3: Technology,Economic Development,Bio diversity,Environment,Security   and Disaster Management.
  • PaperV -General Studies4: Ethics,Integrity and Aptitude.
  • PaperVI & PaperVII -Optional Subject PaperI & II: Candidates can choose any optional subject from amongst the list of subjects provided by the UPSC. 
Syllabus of Exam- Syllabus

After the exam is the interview. A medical test concludes the process of selection.

Where to Study

Most of those aspiring to join the IAS study vigorously, usually devoting their full time to it, many quit their jobs to study full time for this exam. There are no official or government approved institutes or colleges, which one can join for training for the exam. However, there are private coaching institutes, which claim to coach aspirants and have shown great results over the years. Some of these well-known coaching institutes in Delhi are:
  • Vajiram & Ravi Institute for Civil Services Examination, New Delhi Click me
  • Cosmos IAS Academy, New Delhi
  • Study Circle Virat Bhawan, New Delhi
  • Rau’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi Click me
  • Brilliant Tutorials Pvt. Ltd Click me
There are many such institutes around the country, that prepare the aspirants for the civil services exam. The fee in these coaching institutes can be quite high. Since the fee for full course is quite high, most of the institutes give a package like preparation for only the prelims or only the mains etc.

Career Prospects

IAS is a hierarchical service. All those who clear the civil services exam, go through a 2 year probation period; most of which is spent in training. After this, they can be posted to the state secretariat or as field officers or at the district magistrate's office. Their duties are regulatory in nature like law and order, enforcement of rules and general administration, etc. Promotion from this rank makes one under secretary. Then, one is promoted as Joint Secretary,which is the highest among the government of India administrative posts. Then comes the Additional Secretary, then the Secretary, followed by the Chief Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary. Most of the promotions are time scale based. IAS is probably the only service that offers assured career progression in state and central government ministries and departments.

Pay and Remuneration

The government of India fixes the salary of all Civil Servants. The salaries depend on the rank at which the officer is. Those at the rank of Secretary or Cabinet Secretary are paid around Rs. 3.12 lahks -Rs 3.6 lakhs as a basic pay. Apart from the salary, the officers are entitled to government accommodation and some of them get official transport with driver and other facilities like medical etc. More than the salary, it is perks and the power associated with civil servants that attract many of the bright students to it.

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  1. This is extremely informative post. Keep up the good work! Thousands of people look at government job vacancies and they regularly practice and study to qualify these examinations. But most of these people don’t find right stuff for practice. At they can find hundreds of online practice tests that can help them to prepare effectively for govt./competitive exams.


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