For Govt. Jobs - What is Grade Pay/Band?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by njdevilsfan87, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    So I setup an account a USAjobs and I've been looking through positions for mechanical engineers. Seems like every single application asks me what the lowest grade pay/band I'd be willing to take is. Problem is, I have absolutely no idea. Google has not helped too much, but I did find a chart that shows it... I think...

    Base General Schedule Pay Scalehttp://www.fedjobs.com/pay/pay.html

    level 12, Step 1 = $59383
    level 10, Step 10 = $58622

    So they are similar. But as an entry level... am I just looking at the "Step 1" column? It's the only thing that would seem to make sense to me when looking at this chart... other wise I just don't know. I wanted to call the number on the application, but its Sunday, and of course no one is replying at the time.

    Thanks...
     
  2. Finalnight

    Finalnight Golden Member

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    Entry level depends on the field. Entry level in administrative assisting would be at a lower pay band than entry level in engineering or entry level for law.
     
  3. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    Ok, well I can understand that... but my question really is - am I just looking at the "Step 1" column as an entry level applicant?
     
  4. Finalnight

    Finalnight Golden Member

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    Yes, though sometimes you can step higher for previous experience or extra education/certifications. Sometimes a job post will say it starts at a certain step.
     
  5. bucwylde23

    bucwylde23 Diamond Member

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    I"m not 100% sure on this but in my hiring it seemed that whatever band they tried to put me in, they wanted me to be in step 4. I guess this allows room for growth/raises.
     
  6. RaistlinZ

    RaistlinZ Diamond Member

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    The higher the GS the higher the responsibility level, generally speaking. So a GS 13 would likely be the supervisor of a GS 9 for example.

    The Step you enter at largely depends on your qualifications (ie; BA with 5 years work experience will enter at a higher Step than someone with an Associates degree and 3 year work experience, even though they both have the same title and essential do the same job.) You also get regular Step increases in annual or semi-annual performance reviews, assuming that you don't suck at your job of course.

    At least, I think that's the way it works. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  7. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    Ok, thank you. The descriptions are extremely vague so far. It's almost like they're asking anyone to apply, just that you have to specify your own qualification. Some posting show for example "GS 12-13" and later in the application the ask for your lowest GS you'd accept (starting from 0 to... whatever the highest is), and then you check a box: "I certify that I have reviewed the vacancy announcement and hereby self-certify that I am eligible for the series and grade advertised."

    GS 11/12 STEP 1 seems like an entry level engineering salary so that makes me qualified? But so does GS 9/10 STEP 10... so this annoying.

    Some of these are just so vague... nothing on the postings about what level they're looking for, just that positions are open.
     
  8. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    If you are new off the street then a BS degree gets a GS5 and masters a GS7. That is with little to no real exp. in most jobs. There may be some play here and there but most of the time that is it. Now some tech, law, etc? positions can start higher and/or have their own scale.

    The step will be a one unless you have previous government work and/or they are matching your salary for a hard to fill position. So I started at a GS7-1 and am now a GS9-1. I am up for promotion to a GS11 this summer. If somehow I did not get it I would then go to a GS9-2. The first 3 steps are once a year, the next 3 every 2 years, and the last 3 (up to 10) are every 3 years. When you get a promotion it is a 2 step increase. So if I was a GS7-5 my promotion would be a GS7-7 salary and then moved to the GS9 level. If the amount I make at a GS7-7 was higher then a GS9-1 then I move up the steps to find the step that pays the least amount OVER the salary of a GD7-7. If GS7-7 was lower then a GS9-1 then the person gets a GS9-1.


    I do HR work for the Dept. of State.
     
  9. RaistlinZ

    RaistlinZ Diamond Member

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    Yeah, just remember that when they ask you the lowest GS you'll accept it's like asking "What's the most menial position you'll consider in terms of responsibility? A GS 8-10 makes about the same as a GS 11-1, but the GS 8 will likely be the guy answering phones and the GS 11 will likely be the middle manager.
     
  10. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    Read what I just wrote.

    But to fill in the blanks. Apply for the lowwest GS grade it is up for. So if it is listed for a GS9/11/13 then apply for ALL you qualify for, do the 9 even if you meet the 13. You will get promoted every year if you do your job. The hard part is getting in the door as Vets will eat the job up. Just remember Vets have the rule of Open to All job listings. Does not matter if you get a higher score, the Vet will float to the top. Also even if there are no vets you must be the top 3 to get picked if there is only 1 job opening.
     
  11. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    A GS7-9-11-12 can all do the SAME work. It is just expected that the 12 will know more then the 7.

     
  12. RaistlinZ

    RaistlinZ Diamond Member

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    Hm, GS must also depend on the organization you work for and the specific work you do. I started working for the Fed. Govt. as a GS 8-9 with just a Bachelor's degree and about 7 years of varied work experience. I wouldn't think someone with a Master's degree would start at a low GS 7 level.
     
  13. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    You missed the part I said about master with no exp (new off the street). You said you had/have 7 years of Exp. That exp is looked at and a HR person will grade that based on the GS scale. They put thet exp on the scale and they floated you to a higher grade.

    I started at a GS7 as I had exp. I only have a BS as well.

     
  14. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    Seems like I should put the lowest of what they're looking for... because some of these seem high, like GS12... where it seems like entry level out of college should be GS5/GS7... but at the same time, GS5 seems below what I should be getting as an entry level engineer.

    Why do they even need to ask this question... it'd be much easier if they just had some options like "intern, entry-level, senior X years experience" and etc.
     
  15. amdhunter

    amdhunter Lifer

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    Ugh, I read Gay Pride Band...what a disappointing thread this turned out to be... :(
     
  16. Veramocor

    Veramocor Senior member

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    Remember location significantly effects your government salary. Which locality are you looking at?

    I started at a GS 7 Step 10.

    At Gs-7 /10 I was making 62,000 in the DC metro are (about 1 half years ago).

    I'm now a GS-11/3.

    ---------------------
    Different Grades = different responsibility levels.
    Different Steps = longevity

    You can negotiate your step when you first start, probably. You can get a higher GS level only if you are qualified.

    So the answer is, no you are not looking necessarily at Step 1.


    Every year you can get one of two different types of promotions. If you are qualified for the next GS level and were fully succesful you can get promoted up a GS level (but your step level will decrease).

    If you did not qualify to be promoted to a GS level you can get a step promotion. To get promoted to steps 2-4 in the same GS level you only have to be working successfully for 1 year in your current position for each steo increase. Steps 5-8, 2 years, Step 9-10, 3 years.
     
  17. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    Anywhere really. I prefer the Atlantic Coast, but my permanent address is 2000 miles away so I'm not completely anchored to one specific region. I saw the adjustment percentages... but, those didn't help too much.

    I guess I should put something low, like GS5, but if I get contacted, I'll still be expecting the $50-$60K starting salary unless I do some type of special program where I continue for a MS and receive some sort of stipend for it.

     
  18. Tiamat

    Tiamat Lifer

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    Firstly, most of the federal jobs are moving to a different band system. With that said, for the GS system, GS,7,9,11 are entry level for BS, MS, PhD in math/science/engineering. Depending on your work experience you can be any of the steps, generally step 1-6.

    There is a local adjustment as well. The base rate is generally 10-25% lower than what you actually will get. In addition, there are pay increases across the pay structure for 2009.

    GS 10 is GS 9 promoted due to 0.5-1 year experience as GS9.

    GS12 is GS11 promoted due to 0.5-1 year experience as GS11.

    The steps are merit based, the Grades are promotions.

    In Northern Virginia locale, the GS13 Step 1 is ~91,000$

    GS11 Step4 is ~ 74,000$
     
  19. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    Its the same thing. We list the grade, GS5 and then tell you what that requires. Liek I said the hardest part is getting in the door. I had to take a pay cut to start. I now make more and will make even more this summer. My sister in law makes 6 figures working for the Gov. She had to start low as well. Also she works 40hrs a week. If she works more then she gets overtime and/or comp as do I. So yea you make less but you work much less hours most of the time.

    We, Fed Gov, have a harder time getting new Grad lawyers then older ones. New grads want the money. After so many years they see per HR they don;t make that much and/or don;t have a life. So they come to work for the Fed Gov and do their 40hrs and get paid well.
     
  20. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    Go to OPM.gov and you can look at salary for all locals areas. And if you think you will get more money then the listing says, then save the time and don't apply. We have people that try and get more money all the time. Our answer is a GS5 pays X, GS7 pays y, and so on. Either take it or say no and we scratch your name off and move down the list.

    You can apply for more then one grade, I am just saying don;t be a idiot and turn down a 5 and hold out for a 7. A 7 comes after just 1 year.
     
  21. njdevilsfan87

    njdevilsfan87 Golden Member

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    It's not so much the money, it's more the... well I already sent one at GS12 because I didn't know exactly what it meant. Hopefully the recruiter will not take a look at it and think "GS12 at B.S.?... he's out of his mind, onto the next applicant".

    Thanks for helping clear things up.

     
  22. Vette73

    Vette73 Lifer

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    No we, HR, will not even go over your application. If you aply for the 12 and don;t have what is needed then we cut you. We can not just say well he said 12 but I will still call him for the 9. If you apply for a GS13 and just got out of college with a BS and no Exp. then you do not even make the Cert. So the selecting offical will not see your name and/or any information about you.

    That is why you apply for ALL grades. You might make the 12 but if not your name might make the 7 and 9 and the selecting offical might take you on and then promote you every year to the 12.
     
  23. TheVrolok

    TheVrolok Lifer

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    What we need here are 2 GLG-20's.
     
  24. Tiamat

    Tiamat Lifer

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    You get ranked right from the start. If your resume does not have the qualifications of level 12, then your name gets tossed immediately. They don't bother calling you back. You might get a notification that you were found "ineligible".
     
  25. Aluvus

    Aluvus Platinum Member

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    Fresh graduate with a bachelor's will generally start as a GS-5, in some cases GS-7. Government pay is lower than private-sector pay, simple as that. Some of that is made up in benefits (cheap insurance, education, 40 hr weeks). Please note that engineers typically use a different (better) pay scale than other federal employees. OPM's website is something of a PITA, but choose the current year here and that will cover at least the first few pay grades. There is also a locality adjustment typically of a few percent on top of that.

    If you have previous government service, there are sometimes-complicated grade and pay retention rules that the government must follow. But yes, it is a poorly-built system for people applying for their first gov't job.