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Career Opportunities in the Bureau of Indian Affairs

by Tony Guerra, studioD

The nation's native American population includes Alaska natives and American Indians of various tribes and groups. Over the course of its history, America has also developed various federal government agencies to help it interact with its native populations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, provides services to 566 recognized Indian tribes and Alaska native groups. The BIA operates an extensive scope of service programs, and offers many varied career opportunities as well.

History and Mission

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has a history going back to 1824 and the nation's earliest attempts to interact equitably with its native populations. BIA has frequently been the principal player in the relationship between the federal government and native American Indian tribes and Alaska native groups. BIA's mission is to provide services to an Indian and Alaska native population of nearly 2 million people. There are many careers available within BIA, including in fire management, law enforcement and, most important, education.

Fire Management Careers

The Bureau of Indian Affairs offers career opportunities in two major categories: BIA jobs and Bureau of Indian Education jobs. BIA is keenly interested in fire-management programs within the lands it's responsible for servicing and it offers several career possibilities. Fire-management careers available within BIA include in operations, planning, fuels management and prevention and education. BIA fire-management operations careers don't generally feature formal education requirements for entry, though fire-management planning careers require four-year college degrees.

Law Enforcement Careers

The BIA also has its own law-enforcement division, with 43 law-enforcement programs operated exclusively by the bureau itself. Law-enforcement careers within BIA are normally offered through the USAJobs.gov website and typically start as police officer, with a federal paygrade of GS-0083-04/06, earning from $28,130 to $35,081 per year. Generally, to qualify as a BIA police officer, you must have experience as a police officer or a two-year or four-year degree in a police science.

BIA Education Careers

The Bureau of Indian Affairs operates 183 schools and dormitories responsible for educating approximately 42,000 elementary and secondary students. BIA also features 28 tribal colleges and universities. BIA offers teaching career opportunities in a number of states, including Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma. All Bureau of Indian Education teaching and administration career opportunities require a four-year college degree, at minimum. The Bureau of Indian Education maintains its own jobs website with complete instructions and all forms needed to apply.

Hiring and Pay

The BIA gives hiring preference to verified members of native American Indian tribes and Alaska native groups or people verified as being at least one-half Indian. As with almost all federal jobs, BIA careers pay according to a defined occupational category and wage step. For example, a BIA fire-management planner starts as a GS-0401-05/06/07, Step 1, with 2013 GS-07 pay at $38,984 annually. Bureau of Indian Education teacher salaries vary, with a 7th and 8th grade math teacher earning $200 to $400 daily.

About the Author

Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.

Photo Credits

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