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What is the difference between IAS Officer and PCS Officer?

Rachit Saxena

Despite the surge in the opportunities in the private sector, the popularity of administrative jobs among the Indian youth is still intact and rising every year. The trend is evident from the growing number of applications received by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Public Service Commissions of the respective States every year. The data suggest that the UPSC has received around 10 lakh applications, on average, in the last three years for the Civil Services/IAS Exam alone. If we take the number of applicants to the State PCS exams into account, the count will definitely be in crores!

Both IAS and PCS posts are considered the most coveted services of the country. However, there are many major differences among these to service. Now, let’s understand the basic differences in the recruitment, service conditions, and salary of IAS and PCS officers.

How to become IAS

1. Selection Process and Administration:


     (Indian Administrative Services)

They are recruited by an All India Civil Services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.


The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) established by the central government exercises original jurisdiction in relation to complaints or disputes related to recruitment and all service matter of public servants.


           (Provincial Civil Services)

They are recruited by the State Civil Services examination conducted by the Public Service Commission (SPSC) of each state. 


 The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) established by the central government on the specific requests of concerned state government exercises original jurisdiction in relation to complaints or disputes related to recruitment and all service matter of state government employees.

2. Exam Pattern and Syllabus

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        (Indian Administrative Services)


            (Provincial Civil Services)

The exam is conducted in three phases of Preliminary, Mains, and Interview. The syllabus covers factual and conceptual topics of India and the world. 


 UPSC Civil Services Examination consists of a compulsory qualifying aptitude test (CSAT) that tests the reasoning and analytical skills of the candidates.

It consists of only one qualifying regional language paper.

This is also conducted in three phases but more emphasis is given on the respective state history and current conditions.


 State Civil Services Examination may or may not consist of CSAT paper. (depends on individual states) 


 Some states may have compulsory regional Language paper or the statistics paper.

IAS Syllabus and Exam Pattern in detail

3. Appointment

IAS officers are appointed by the President of India but they work under the State Government whose cadre is allocated to them. PCS officers are appointed by the Governor of the State so they are under the total control of the State Government.

4. Termination

Only the Union Government (specifically President) has the right to terminate the services of an IAS officer. Whereas, for a PCS officer, the State Government has all the right to transfer, suspension, and termination.

Dismissal of an IAS Officer

5. Salary and Payscale



Their salaries and pensions are met by the cadre state. They have a uniform pay scale throughout the country irrespective of the states they are serving.

 The Department of Personnel and Training under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions is the central personnel agency in India which is concerned with the classification of services, pay, cadre management, and training of the civil servants.

Their salaries and pensions are totally in the hands of the state governments to calculate. Their pay scale may vary respectively on the state they are employed under.

 The Department of Personnel or General Administration Department is the central personnel agency in the state which is concerned with the classification of services, pay, cadre management, and training of the state civil servants.

 a . IAS Salary after 7th Pay Commission

Pay Level

Basic Pay

Years of Service





ASP/SDM/ Asst. Commissioner




ADM/Deputy Secretary/ Undersecretary




DM/ Joint Secretary/ Deputy Secretary




DM/ Special Secretary cum Director/ Director




Divisional Commissioner/ Secretary Cum Commissioner/ Joint Secretary




Divisional Commissioner/ Principal Secretary/ Additional Secretary




Additional Chief Secretary




Chief Secretary



37+ years

Cabinet Secretary of India

Compare the IAS Salary after 6th and 7th Pay Commission

b. PCS Salary

The Salary of PCS Officer varies from State to State and is nowhere close to the IAS Officer's Salary. For Example, The RAS Officer has the following Salary Structure

Pay Band:        PB-3 (15600-39100)
Grade Pay:       5400
Basic Salary:    15600

6. Promotion and Post



An IAS officer may start his career from SDM [Independent office] and can reach up to Secretary to the Government of India.


After joining the services, it may take about 5-7 years for an IAS officer to become a District Collector.



They have a well-known tenure system and all promotions dealt timely.


A PCS officer starts his career depending on the state service rules. A PCS officer’s promotion process is slower than the IAS officers they work with.


A State service person could take as much as 15-17 years to reach a post equivalent to the IAS.


 All-India Services Act of 1951 specifies that senior posts not exceeding thirty-three and one third in the IAS, IPS and IFoS services are required to be filled in by promotion of officers employed in the state services.

Transfer of an IAS Officer

7. Other opportunities

IAS officers serve the central government on deputation in various offices abroad as per direction. IAS officers are eligible for inter-cadre transfers and can be appointed on deputation in different states as per the requirements.

PCS officers may be appointed on deputation on various departments but within the state.

Although both the Indian Administrative Services and the Provincial Civil Services were created under the same agenda of institutionalizing smooth administrative governance in the country but a difference in service rules and regulations exists state wise.

There is a huge difference between IAS and PCS. The difference is in the decisional powers, perks and facilities enjoyed the responsibilites and powers, and the other things which are beyond the scope of the objective of this article.

Hope this will make it easier to understand the difference between IAS and PCS Officer.

Benefits offered to IAS

Designations and Posts held by an IAS Officer

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