Local government offers many pathways.
Local government offers many pathways. Jojo Newby

Local government offers fruitful career paths

IT'S a well-worn stereotype - the council workers propped up by shovels and stop-go signs, spending their day deciding whether it's almost time to actually start work.

But there's a whole lot more to local government and regional councils than the workers who actually get out and do the hard graft.

Local councils are big business. They have budgets reaching into the hundreds of millions, provide services to hundreds of thousands of residents and ratepayers, and require hundreds, if not thousands of staff in a wide range of roles.

From the top down, councils offer a range of career pathways in trade, technical and professional positions, all of which contribute to the common goal of keeping a town, city or region functioning as smoothly as possible.

The mayor, perhaps surprisingly, isn't the boss. Much like in the business sector, the CEO is the head of the council corporate structure, with the mayor and the councillors forming the executive office.

The CEO is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of council, and ensures that all council decisions are carried out. Unlike the mayor and councillors, the CEO is not an elected position.

Together, the mayor and the councillors are tasked with making strategic decisions to ensure good governance of their electoral area, by adopting and implementing policy, setting local laws and enforcing legislation.

Decisions made by the mayor and councillors are then implemented on their behalf by council officers.

The council's work units are split into broad groups, and take care of everything from parks and gardens to economic development.

If you like the idea of working for your community as a councillor, the good news is anyone can apply. The not-so-good news, elections are held every four years, with the next due in 2016.

If you're not a fan of job interviews, turn back now - nominating for a council election is just the start. You're effectively signing on for a drawn-out interview process, otherwise called the campaign, and if you're successful, you land a job that comes with a four-year contract.

If you're looking for a more immediate start, councils employ staff in many roles - check your local council's website.