Career progression and Life of An IAS Officer

Aug 10, 2021 - 18:50
Aug 10, 2021 - 21:18
Career progression and Life of An IAS Officer

At the beginning of their career, IAS officers receive district training with their home cadres followed by their first posting. Their initial role is as a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and they are placed in charge of a district sub-division.

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Career progression and Life of An IAS Officer

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As SDMs, they are entrusted with maintaining law and order, as well as general administration and development work, of the sub-division. With the completion of their training, IAS officers are assigned to various posts in the state and union governments, and in local-self governments, (municipal corporations, Zilla Parishad), and public sector undertakings.

In 2015 it was announced that a new designation of assistant secretary at the Central Secretariat had been created to enable new IAS officers to be posted to Delhi for a three-month assignment as part of their training regime.

IAS officers were previously only permitted to go on a deputation once assigned to the Central Secretariat after nine years of service in their home cadre. It was observed that the experience of central functions was severely lacking among these deputations, resulting in this change in their training.

As part of the new system, IAS assistant secretaries are supposed to work on projects

—a new policy in their respective areas

—and present it to their respective ministries;

of all projects, 36 are selected to be presented before all secretaries of the Government of India;

consequently, 16 are selected to be before the Cabinet Secretary and a final eight are selected for presentation before the Prime Minister.

Completion of this probation is followed by an executive role in a district as a district magistrate and collector, which lasts several years.

After this tenure as a district magistrate, the officer may be promoted to head a whole state division, as a divisional commissioner.

On attaining the apex scale, IAS officers may lead government departments or ministries. In these roles, IAS officers represent the country at the international level in bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

If serving on a deputation, they may be employed in intergovernmental organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the United Nations or its agencies. IAS officers are also involved in the conduct of elections in India as mandated by the Election Commission of India.

Positions and designations held by IAS officer in their career hide
Grade/scale (level on Pay Matrix) Field posting(s) Position in state governments Position in the Government of India Pay Scale
Cabinet Secretary grade (Pay level 18)

Cabinet Secretary

250,000 (US$3,500) (PPP$11,700)

Apex scale (Pay level 17)

Chief secretary


225,000 (US$3,200)

Higher administrative grade (above super time scale) (Pay level 15)

Divisional commissioner

Principal secretary

Additional secretary

182,200 (US$2,600)—224,100 (US$3,100)

Senior administrative grade (above super time scale) (Pay level 14)


Joint secretary

144,200 (US$2,000)—218,200 (US$3,100)

Selection grade (Pay level 13)

District magistrate

Special secretary-cum-director


118,500 (US$1,700)—214,100 (US$3,000)

Junior administrative grade (Pay level 12)

Joint secretary

Deputy secretary

78,800 (US$1,100)—191,500 (US$2,700)

Senior time scale (Pay level 11)

Additional district magistrate

Deputy secretary

Under Secretary

67,700 (US$950)—160,000 (US$2,200)

Junior time scale (Pay level 10)

Sub-divisional magistrate

Under Secretary Assistant secretary

56,100 (US$790)—132,000 (US$1,900)


Upon retirement, high ranking IAS officers have occupied constitutional posts such as the Chief Election Commissioner of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and the chairperson of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). 

They have also become members of administrative tribunals, such as the National Green Tribunal and the Central Administrative Tribunal, as well as chiefs of regulators including the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, and the Reserve Bank of India. 

If a serving IAS officer is appointed to a constitutional post such as Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Chief Election Commissioner of India or chairperson of UPSC or as head of the statutory authority, such as the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women or the Central Information Commission, he or she is deemed to have retired from service.

IAS officers can also be deputed to private organisations for a fixed tenure under Rule 6(2)(ii) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954.

Assessment of suitability for promotion and posting

The performance of IAS officers is assessed through a performance appraisal report. The reports are reviewed to judge the suitability of an officer before a promotion or a posting in the union or state governments.

The report is compiled annually and is initiated by the officers themselves, designated as the reporting officer, who list their achievements, completion of assigned activities and targets for the year. The report is then modified and commented on by the reviewing officer, usually the superior of the reporting officer.

All the reports are forwarded by the reviewing officer to the accepting authority, who conducts a final review of the report.

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