GS Levels Explained

GS (General Schedule): is the name used to describe a payscale used by most of white collar personnel in the United States Federal Government. The term GS is sometimes wrongly said to mean "Government Service" or "Government Servant."

The GS is intended to keep Federal government salaries equitable among various Federal agency occupations ("equal pay for equal work").

The GS is separated into 15 grades (1 through 15) and each grade is broken into 10 levels. At one time, there were also three GS "supergrades" - GS-16, GS-17 and GS-18. These were replaced by the (SES) Senior Executive Service and the more recent Senior Level (non-supervisory) pay scale.

The following is a BASE Pay Scale For Positions (2006)

All U.S. locations receive additional pay adjustment above the base pay ranging from 12.64% to 30.34%.

Within-Grade Step Increases
Grade Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7 Step 8 Step 9 Step 10

The Federal Government hires people from all educational levels from high school with no experience to Ph.D.’s with established careers. Some occupations require a bachelor’s or graduate degree and credit for specific college classes. Some occupations require experience, education, or a combination of both. Some like office clerk, require no education or experience to start.

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The qualifications needed for each job are described in detail in the vacancy announcements that advertise job openings. Each job also has a code that corresponds to its minimum requirements. Understanding these codes will speed your search.

After gaining work experience, people often qualify for higher GS levels. In general, 1 year of experience related to the job could raise your grade by one GS level in most clerical and technician positions. In administrative, professional, and scientific positions, GS level increases in increments of two until you reach a GS-12. After that, GS level increases one level at a time. With each additional year of experience at a higher level of responsibility, your GS level could continue to increase until it reaches the maximum for your occupation.

GS levels by education

  • GS-1: No high school diploma
  • GS-2 (GS-3 for clerk-steno positions): High school diploma
  • GS-3: 1 year of full-time study after high school
  • GS-4: Associate degree or 2 years of full-time study after high school
  • GS-5 or GS-7: depending on agency policy and applicant's academic credentials Bachelor's degree or 4 years of full-time study after high school
  • GS-7: Bachelor's degree plus 1 year of full-time graduate study
  • GS-9(GS-11 for some research positions): Master's degree or 2 years of full-time graduate study
  • GS-9: Law degree (J.D. or LL.B.)
  • GS-11(GS-12 for some research positions): Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate or advanced law deg

You must be very clear on the job announcement. You must fully inderstand what GS level is asked for, what you qualify for and to make sure your resume is written in the exact format required by the agency you are applying for.

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Best Federal Resume 2006

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