In the United States, the term "civil service" generally refers to any government job other than service in the military. Some examples of jobs specific to the government include working for the post office, in foreign affairs or in passport and visa services.
As the government employs many different types of workers for its facilities and needs, "civil service" can technically consist of everything from cooking in a cafeteria to working in Congress. The U.S. Department of State lists foreign affairs, personnel management, management analysis, general accounting and administration, budget administration, legal counsel, passport visa services, public affairs, contract procurement, and information technology management as civil service job categories. Working for the police and highway patrol are also examples of civil service positions.
The Federal Civil Service was formally created in 1871 to represent all positions in the government of the United States with the exception of those in the uniformed services. Most positions are in the "competitive service", where applicants compete with each other by taking tests and being awarded merit points for things like military service and previous related work experience. Some positions, mostly those with intelligence and security agencies, are in the "excepted service," where officials of those services have more discretion in recruiting and hiring.