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IAS Officer

IAS stands for Indian Administrative Service. It was formerly known as Imperial Civil Service (ICS). IAS is one of the three arms of All India Services (the other two are IPS and IFS). Other than district-level posts, IAS officers are also engaged in the government ministries and departments and represent them at the International level. Many higher-level officers also work at international organizations such as the IMF, the World Bank, the UN & its agencies, the Asian Development Bank, etc.

History of IAS

During the colonial period, the Indian Civil Service was known as the Honorable

IAS Officer

East India Company's Civil Service, and its name was changed in 1858. Under the British control, all the highly paid and reputed posts were assigned to British Civil servants in all three divisions: covenanted, uncovenanted, and special civil service. From 1858 to 1947, ICS was the highest civil service in the country. In 1942, its last appointment process took place. Then, the IAS was formed by the Central Cabinet at the Premier's Conference held in 1946. It was based on ICS. After partition in 1947, ICS was classified into two new provinces of India and Pakistan. In the same year, the Indian Civil Service was renamed as Indian Administrative Service.

Eligibility to Become an IAS Officer

As we know, the career of IAS is filled with huge competition. Only the candidates with the right attitude and approach can be successful in this line. For this, they appear for the UPSC exam. But one has to fulfill all the required eligibility criteria related to the qualifications, nationality, age limit, and the number of attempts. It can be understood from the information given below:

  • The candidate must have completed the bachelor's degree in any stream, i.e., science, arts, or commerce, from a recognized university.
  • One who has completed graduation or waiting for the result of the final year can also appear for the Preliminary Examination. But to appear for the Mains Examination, the aspirants have to provide proof of clearing the graduation along with the application form.
  • Those students can also opt for the UPSC Examination who has completed any professional or technical qualification from a UGC-recognized university.
  • The candidate must be a citizen of India.
  • The minimum age required to appear for the exam is 21, while the maximum age limit is 32.
  • The maximum number of attempts is 6 for general candidates, 9 for OBC candidates, and no limits for SC/ST candidates.

How to become an IAS?

Every year lakhs of candidates prepare to fulfill their dream of becoming an IAS officer. A Civil Service Examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Central body to recruit IAS officers. It is among the toughest exams in the country. The purpose of the exam is to appoint Group 'A' services officers in the central Government and Group 'B' services officers in the Union Territories. After qualifying for the exam, the candidates are assigned to the job for the All India Administrative Service.

The Civil Service Exam has three steps which include:

  • Preliminary Examination: It is the very first step that the candidate has to clear to be an IAS officer. This exam has two papers, General Study l, and ll or the CSAT. The question paper of these exams contains objective-based questions. It is mostly conducted in June. After cracking both exams of Prelims, the candidate can move further for Main Examination.
  • Main Examination: The mains consist of nine papers. These exams are subjective, and candidates can choose any two subjects of their choice. Apart from these two optional papers, there are four general studies papers, two language papers (English is compulsory while the candidates can choose any other Indian language as the second language subject), and one essay paper. The language papers are not counted for the merit ranking, but the candidates have to qualify them to clear the round. Mains question papers contain descriptive based questions. Generally, the exam is conducted in September.
  • Personality Test or Interview: The candidates who clear the Mains Examination get the opportunity to appear for the Personal Test or Interview round, which consists of 275 marks. According to many aspirants, this is the toughest round of the complete process. Under this round, the person is judged on all aspects like knowledge, leadership, clarity of thoughts and expression, presence of mind, ability to tackle address, general awareness, etc. After clearing this round, the candidates get the honor of servicing the highest and most reputed posts in the country. But the service and cadre allotted to the candidates may depend on their rank, category, and the number of vacancies available.

Types of Job Profiles Offered To IAS Officers

An IAS officer plays a very responsible and popular job in the country. There are various job profiles of an IAS officer are given which governed by the central government:

  • Sub-divisional Officer: The in charge of all the work-in-progress and the development activities which are taking place in a sub-division, is known as a sub-divisional officer. The officer is responsible for coordinating with the work of various departments for the area's progress.
  • Divisional Commissioner: A divisional commissioner works on the divisional level and coordinates with all work that is related to the general administration. They include revenue administration, developmental administration, and law & order. The designation is above the district collector or magistrate. That's why these officers are also responsible for hearing the appeals against the orders of District Collectors. They direct and lead the revenue administration. The officer not only coordinates but also supervises the functioning of all wings of government administration in the respective division.
  • District Magistrate/District Collector: A district magistrate ensures the smooth and proper working of the district's administration. The officer serves as the main agent for bringing harmonization in all government agencies which are running in the district. They also perform the role of a collector and collect all the revenue generated within the district.
  • Chief Secretary: The officer is responsible for setting the inter-departmental coordination. They serve as the chairperson of the inter-departmental committees. These committees resolve inter departmental disputes and give advices to the secretaries in any difficulty related to these departments.
  • Cabinet Secretary: A cabinet secretary serves as the chief coordinator of the Indian government. The officer plays the role of a bridge between the political system and the civil services of the country. The cabinet secretaries monitor various departments and ministries and bring harmony among them.

Steps for the Exam Preparation

As we discussed above, it is really hard to crack the UPSC exam, so there should not be poor preparation. Your willpower must be strong enough, and your motivation must be high to appear for the exam. You should be focused on your preparation without thinking about the result. And if you'll contribute 100%, then the result will also be amazing. But to complete this task, you should follow the given six steps:

  1. Gather the complete information about the Exam: It is the first step to collect all the information related to the UPSC exam pattern and exam syllabus. You should always have a copy of the syllabus on your study desk so that you can go through it whenever you want to know the importance of any topic as per the exam point of view. If you have the syllabus print in your mind, then you can prepare effectively. You can take the help of the previous year's paper to know how it is divided into sections, the number of total questions, the time limit, and how these questions are asked.
  2. Build a strong foundation: After crossing the first step, you can move to the next step related to the work on the base of the building. It would be best if you had learned all the basics of the UPSC at your fingertips. A strong foundation will provide a healthy structure to your exam preparation. For this purpose, the NCERTs are highly preferable, which contain all the basic information about the subjects that are involved in the UPSC exam. Hence, you can kick start your UPSC preparation from all NCERT books from class 6th to 12th, especially the subjects like science, social, and mathematics.
  3. Prefer only standard books to read: As we know, UPSC is one of the toughest exams in India. So, it would help if you are perfectly prepared to attempt it. Such preparation can be done by using the standard and best books only. Now a question may arise in your mind that what are standard books? So, those books are called standards which are required to be studied cover to cover. As mentioned above, the starting can be done with the NCERT books, and then you may move to the others. You should be very picky while selecting a book for your preparation. Take help from your teachers or someone who has cracked the UPSC. You may also ask the experts online about the best authors and books.
  4. Go through all current affairs: If you check the previous year's papers, you may easily identify that the direct questions from the current affairs are asked in the Prelims exam. Hence, it is required to cover all the current affairs of about the last 12-18 months. The best source of being prepared for current affairs is the regular reading of newspapers and magazines. You should select those magazines which are filled with knowledge and information instead of advertisements. You can also opt for a course on current affairs. It will be helpful in collating the information easily. There are certain free as well as paid applications and sites also available that can help you in preparing the current affairs.
  5. Practice with mock tests and answer-writing: The next and most important step to be prepared for the UPSC exam is practicing by using mock tests, answer-writing, and previous years' question papers. Without clearing this step, your preparation will remain incomplete. Mock tests are helpful in analyzing the level of preparation and finding the mistakes and weak zones. Answer writings help in sharpening your writing skills and making them fast and perfect. The previous year's question papers are helpful in understanding the exam pattern and the types of questions and the difficulty level of the question paper. Hence, you must implement all three if you want to crack the UPSC with a high score.
  6. Revision: It is the last step in the process of perfect preparation. As we know, it is not enough to learn all the points and subjects and to test your preparation level, but you also have to revise all the points that you learned prior. Because many times it happens that something got skipped from our mind which we can recap by the revision. It mostly happens in General Studies that we forget the important dates and events. Hence, multiple revisions cemented these concepts. Revision is not a one-time process. You should continuously revise the points during your preparation which will help you keep them in your long-term memory. You should have perfect notes, mind maps, or blueprints of the concepts, which will help you in the last and end time revision before the exam. After it, you will be prepared for your exam.


As per the 7th Central Pay Commission's guidelines, the average monthly salary of IAS officers is 56,100. The pay range of these officers is divided into 18 levels. Among them, the highest salary of 2,50,000 is given to the Cabinet Secretary of the Union. Other than this higher salary, IAS officers also enjoy many perks and additional benefits, which are as under:

  • The government provides subsidized accommodation to the IAS officer. Among all the IAS officers, the best house is given to the officers who are employed at the district level.
  • These accommodations have gardeners, cooks, maids, etc., for the maintenance and help.
  • Proper security is given to them, but the level of security may vary from officer to officer as per the requirement.
  • These officers all enjoy the free mobile, internet, and telephone facilities.
  • The officers also avail the benefits of free electricity.
  • They stay in the government rest houses and bungalows without paying anything while on duty.
  • In most district and state-level posting, the officers get the facility of free government vehicles for transportation. Central deputations get vehicles in rare cases only, while officers at higher rank mostly enjoy this benefit.
  • After retirement, IAS officers also get a monthly pension. The amount of the pension is based on the length of service and the designation from which the officer is retired.

Pros of Becoming an IAS Officer

  • IAS is a service to the nation. By choosing it as a career, one may serve society.
  • There are many perks and privileges offered by this assured job.
  • A person serves society to its highest level, which makes the job highly respectful and builds prestige in society.
  • An IAS officer works closely with the political leadership in the country.

Cons of Becoming an IAS Officer

  • The job of an IAS officer is filled with a high workload and responsibilities. An IAS officer is answerable to everything that happens in their department. It makes the job very stressful.
  • An IAS officer has to face a lot of political pressure in many situations. This pressure can be from a politician or other powerful people.
  • Corruption is one of the major problems of the government sector, and the IAS officers also have to deal with it even if they are innocent. This affects their goodwill in society.

Major Challenges

There are many issues that are challenging the prestige of this job sector. Some of them are:

  • Shortage of Officer: As per the data of 2017, the country has just 1700 IAS officers. It is a very small number in such a large country. Despite this shortage, the central government is not in favor of increasing the annual recruitment for IAS officers. This is because the government thinks a large number of employees may affect the value of the designation and may also disturb the overall structure of this sector, which can create a hurdle in the promotion of the current employees.
  • Lateral Entry: The non-availability of lateral entry is another major issue in the IAS as a career. It is accepted by many retired IAS officers, media personalities, and academics. The reason behind this argument is the entry of fresh employees to refresh the bureaucracy. Further steps were taken in this regard, but later it was concluded that lateral entry could be negatively affected by corruption and cronyism. It may also lead to poor managerial performance or accountability.
    It was further concluded that lateral entry could also weaken the bureaucracy and create the synergy between the government and the big businesses, which can comprise the government's honesty. So, in the end, the central government reached the decision that lateral entry in the sector should be ruled out.
  • Political Influence: Many times, it is found that the work of the IAS officers is controlled by the local political leaders or other powerful personalities. It affects the right decisions and works of the officers. In case of opposition, they are transferred, suspended, beaten, and sometimes murdered also. It is a very serious point of concern that should be focused on by the central government and the Supreme Court.
  • Corruption: As per some reports which are publically issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, it is found that the sector contributes a huge amount of black money or crony currency. Due to the corruption, ten officers were resigned from their job from 2014 to 2017. Other than this, one officer faced premature retirement, eight faced a reduction in their salary, and a further five got a permanent cut on their pension by the law as a punishment. The Department of Personnel and Training comes under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions. Another case was caught in Jammu & Kashmir where two IAS officers working at the post of District Magistrate were arrested by the CBI. They were arrested for having some connections with the organizations and groups supplying illegal arms licenses in the state. The department got the clarification on this act after having an investigation.
  • Abandonment of Service: Not being passionate about the profession is another concern related to this service sector. In a report of June 2015 of The Telegraph, it was found that twelve IAS officers got missing suddenly. These missing were not reported in the allocated cadre of these officers. As per some assumptions, these IAS officers work at a higher pay range in multi-national companies in foreign countries. Later, three of these twelve officers were suspended from the job due to a prolonged absence.

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