Understanding Grade Levels of Federal Job Postings

May 23, 2007 – 2:10 pm

Most people don’t understand grade levels of Federal job postings.  The grade level determines the rate of pay and amount of authority, and is very much like the rank or rate system used in the military.The lowest level is GS-1, which stands for government service one.  Consider that the same as an Army buck private or E-1, or a Navy Seaman Recruit.  Of course not everyone has to start at the bottom. Many times those who have a Bachelors degree can enter at GS-5 or GS-7.  These jobs are considered entry-level as well, and some on-the-job training will be included, but the degree does offer advancement faster.All jobs at GS-7 or above require some sort of specialized training which may be government or private sector training.  Those who have a Masters degree may qualify for GS-9 positions and those with a doctorate may qualify for a  GS-11 position.When checking job listings at USAJobs.com the grade level of the position you are looking at will always be listed. As in the military the same job description can have many levels, with increasing layers of responsibility. The applicant, when hired can advance in grade level, with commensurate increases in both responsibility and in pay.

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