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Job grading is something you should become familiar with in your search for government employment. A job grade dictates superiority and compensation level. OPM sets the compensation levels. These are based on a number of parameters such as past job experience, technical knowledge, your education, job performance accountability and any specialized assignment out of the ordinary requiring specific qualifications.
The OPM or Federal Job Centers can give you the various ratings and the applicable compensation ranges within the classification. Whether you go to the bottom or the top of the classification will depend on the above measurements.
Advancement is not uncommon in the federal job market. As you become more proficient, you will likely be promoted up the ranks.
A general schedule of compensation grades applies to the white collar worker and ranges from grades GS–1 to GS–18. College educated white collar positions will qualify as a GS–5 to start, while secretarial positions begin in the GS–1 to GS–3 range.
The blue collar worker will be categorized on a wage grade basis. Here, the compensation received varies with the locality of the work.
You can advance, salary–wise, from within a specific GS rating, based on the lower to upper ranges of compensation within that grade. To go further, once you’ve reached the upper limit of pay within a grade, would require reclassification. The more proficient your work record, the greater likelihood of grade advancement.
You might even be able to obtain some training for higher level grades while working in your current position. Done after hours, this can put you in line for that promotion to place you in a higher grade rating and, thus, in a higher pay range.
The usual number of hours worked in a week is 40. Monday through Friday. Some jobs, like a physician on call, is an exception to this rule. If the agency authorizes overtime, you may be eligible to work it. You can receive either pay or comparable time off as compensation. Bonuses may also be possible depending on the way the agency is funded.
Transfers are also acceptable ways to move around within the system. Your own agency’s personnel office can assist you with the necessary paperwork. You must first apply for a position in the other department and be accepted, but at least you know this is a possibility and is not discouraged among agencies.
You will be eligible for sick leave (13 days annually) and vacation (beginning at 13 days and increasing based on years of service). Health insurance is available through the Federal Employees Health Insurance Program, with a wide array of benefit plans to choose from. There is also a Federal Government retirement program that is one of the best around.
After the application, you will be advised about additional tests and information you should know about once they review your application packet. OPM will advise what examinations need to be taken for the position you’re applying for, and when and where these exams should be taken. While many positions need no additional testing, be prepared!
When the OPM has filled their lists, they will stop taking applications for a time. In general, they should be able to predict when they will next be accepting new applications.