Career Path of an IAS Officer

Updated on June 19, 2020
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Raj Singh is an educator and freelance writer interested in world history and governance.

Some IAS officers with Pranab Mukherjee, the 13th President of India.
Some IAS officers with Pranab Mukherjee, the 13th President of India.

The career path of an IAS officer can be very interesting. Serving in the IAS, or Indian Administrative Service, is a job that offers lofty positions of power and status. No job is comparable to it. Even people with both IIT and IIM degrees fight hard to get selected for the merit list of the UPSC.

An IAS officer may get the chance to work for people at the subdivision and district levels during the earlier part of his career. Such an officer sees the implementation of the government policies at the grass-root level.

With seniority however, the officer will become more and more involved in policy framing. He goes from the districts to the capitals. He may go to the national capital. Read more to learn more about the career progression of a typical IAS officer.

The first thing one may wonder is what are an IAS officer's actual duties. There is no specific duty for the IAS. It is a pure generalist service. The IAS should have multiple talents. He will have to do administrative jobs and development jobs during field postings. The IAS also maintains law and order as a SDO or DM.

During secretarial postings, the officer should learn how to be more diplomatic. A Secretary or Addl/Jt. Sec oversees the functioning of a department of a state or the Central Government. These officers are expert in policy framing and implementations.

First Year: Training

The newly recruited IAS trainees are called to LBSNAA (Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration) for training. This academy is situated at the hill station Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. During the FC (Foundation Course), all central group-A services officers selected through the Civil Services Examination are trained together for four months. After that, other trainees are shifted to their own training institutes, but IAS candidates continue to be trained in LBSNAA. The training is hard. There are studies and physical exercises too. The training ends with a long, all-India educational tour called “Bharat darn.” During this tour, the officer trainees see various parts of the country and also how the army, navy, and air force work.

Life in LBSNAA

Second Year: Probation

After training, the IAS officers are sent to their cadre regions on probation for a couple of years. IAS cadres are the regions where an officer is allocated. There are total of 24 cadres, like AGMUT, West Bengal, UP, Rajasthan, etc.

During the probation period, the officer will be attached to various government departments to learn how the government machinery works. The officer will have to keep a probationer’s diary to record what he/she has learned. The probation period ends with an examination.

SDM or SDO is the 1st posting of an IAS after probation period.
SDM or SDO is the 1st posting of an IAS after probation period.
  • Junior Time Scale—The newly recruited IAS officer starts at the Junior Time Scale salary. This is in the range of 15600 with Grade Pay 5400. The starting basic is 21000. There is also DA (Dearness Allowance) above the Basic Pay which is now 107% of the basic. The officer stays in the JTS for four years. After completion of the probation period, the junior officer is posted as a SDO / SDM (Sub-divisional Officer / Magistrate) at the Sub-division level of a district. The SDM is the administrative head of a sub-division containing 7/8 blocks.
  • Senior Time Scale—After four years of service, the IAS officer is promoted to Senior Time Scale with Grade Pay of 6600. The officer gets two extra increments during this scale up gradation. He is given various types of posts like that of the Additional District Magistrate (ADM), CEO, Zilla Parishad or Chief Development Officer at this stage.

  • Junior Administrative Grade—JAG officers get Rs 7600 as grade pay in the scale of Rs 15,600-Rs 39,100. An IAS is promoted to this scale after 9 years of service. He also gets two additional increments.

    After serving 2/3 years as the ADM, the officer is selected as the District Magistrate / Collector of a district. The collector looks after the development and law and order of the district. The post has wide visibility, power and status.

    Some of the officers are posted as a Joint Secretary of a ministry of the state. The Joint Secretary is a very important position to hold. If an officer goes to central deputation then he is given director post of a department.
  • Selection Grade—The officer again gets two extra increments before being promoted to the next higher scale of pay, Selection Grade (Rs. 37,400-67,000 with GP 8700) after 12 years of service. He or She may remain a DM in the district or can become a Special Secretary of a Government department.

District Magistrate and Collector: Popularly known as DM or Collector is the most visible post of an IAS.
District Magistrate and Collector: Popularly known as DM or Collector is the most visible post of an IAS.
  • Selection Grade—The officer again gets two extra increments before being promoted to the next higher scale of pay, Selection Grade (Rs. 37,400-67,000 with GP 8700) after 12 years of service. He or She may remain a DM in the district or can become a Special Secretary of a Government department.
  • Super Time Scale—An IAS gets Super Time Scale (Rs. 37,400-67,000 with GP 10000) after 16 years of service. He /She will get the post of an Additional Secretary or Secretary of a department of a State Government. He may also become a divisional commissioner in field posting. In the Central Government, an officer of that seniority can get the post of the Joint Secretary of a ministry of the Government of India.
  • Higher Administrative Grade—With the selection in Higher Administrative Grade or HAG, an officer is entitled to officer to draw a basic in the scale of Rs.67000 to 79000. An officer should have an experience of 25 years to go to this position.

    In states, an IAS of this grade can become a Principle Secretary of a department. If the officer works in the Government of India, then the rank will be of an Additional Secretary.

Social Responsibility is needed to work as an IAS officer.
Social Responsibility is needed to work as an IAS officer.
  • Apex Scale—An officer with a minimum experience of 30 years can get the Apex scale i.e. the fixed basic salary of Rs. 80,000. The Secretaries of various departments of the Central Government gets this scale. The Chief Secretary of a state also gets this scale.
  • Cabinet Secretary Scale—The Cabinet Secretary is the highest position of a government employee in India. There is always only one Cabinet Secretary in the Central Government. There is state equivalent of this post. He draws a fixed basic pay of Rs. 90,000.

An Insider's Story


An IAS officer can go to the Central Government from the states on deputation. There are also many PSU and autonomous bodies where many IAS officers get deputation postings. These PSU postings can be immensely satisfying as the IAS officer gets the chance of running a professional company from the high managerial positions. There has been constant battle between IAS and other Group A services regarding share of such postings.

Some foreign deputations are also available for the IAS officers. There are various United Nations organizations, financial organizations like World Bank, IMF, ADB who offers deputation vacancies to IAS officers for foreign postings. He or she can also get the chance of working in the multilateral organizations like the Commonwealth, SAARC, WTO, International Court of Justice etc. Even NGOs with worldwide reputations like Red Cross or Ford Foundation also seeks the expertise of the IAS officers. The foreign postings are lucrative due to high salaries.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Thanks for the information..this seems that you possess a very deep knowledge about ias service..

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Thanks you very much nice information

    • profile image

      saee Shahane 

      17 months ago

      Thanks for the info.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      U have to be born with super brain and then your dedication n of course little luck

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      nice information


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Inspiration is in your inside only others can motivate us.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very good knowledge over an sdo.

    • profile image

      mirza turaab 

      3 years ago

      In my opinion it's everyone's dream to be a ias officer. Iam prepairing for this i hope such articles inspire other's to participate.......

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      "If others can do it,y can't i"

    • profile image

      Md Mukaddar 

      4 years ago

      Really an Ias office have a lots of responsibility ,,,If he or she done his job well than india become more powerfull and also crruption free countary in the world....

    • profile image

      denna dhileep 

      4 years ago

      IAS it is not just a is my duty towards my nation.

    • iasinfo profile imageAUTHOR

      Raj Singh 

      5 years ago from India

      An IAS can do hier/his part to eliminate social evils.

    • profile image

      siddu meti 

      5 years ago

      I like IAS very much not because it is the topmost one among the rest but because, it is a post which can implement the aspirations of our constitution architect DrB R Ambedkar that are elimination of man-made inhuman social practices namely caste system, untouchability, atrocities on the downtroddens, superstitions, and so on.

    • profile image

      Roshan Singh 

      5 years ago

      Yeah ,, really satisfactory,,, thanks

    • David Rugu profile image

      David Rugu Ngigi 

      5 years ago from Kitui, Kenya

      great article hope to see more..


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