Federal General Schedule (GS) Education Requirements
General Schedule Grade is based on education, training, general work experience and specialized work experience. These educational requirements are laid out by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). There are 5 main career groups with different educational requirements:
- Professional and Scientific Positions;
- Administrative and Management Positions;
- Technical and Medical Support Positions;
- Clerical and Administrative Support Positions; and
- Competitive Service Student Trainee Positions.
Each of these career groups have slightly different requirements. The table below shows the educational requirements for two of the most common career groups:
- Professional and Scientific Positions; and
- Clerical and Administrative Support Positions.
The Office of Personnel Management creates these standards, but intentionally leaves room for interpretation by individual agencies. Hiring agencies may make their own determination about what qualifies as "specialized" experience for a particular job.
These requirements are used to determine starting grade. Once you start a new job, you are immediately earning specialized work experience, which will continue increasing your grade. Equivalent combinations of education and experience are accepted for all grade levels and positions where both education and experience are acceptable.
Note: Some jobs also have other requirements such as typing speed, health, or age. These requirements are rare and only apply to certain jobs that require physical fitness.
Professional and Scientific Position Requirements
The table below shows the required work experience for Professional and Scientific Positions. Grades for these position range from GS-7 to GS-13+, based on qualifications. Jobs that fall into this category include: Engineering, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, and other technical positions.
Note: To qualify for a particular grade, you must meet the education requirements or the experience requirements — not both.
|GS-7||1 Year graduate-level education or superior academic achievement in under-graduate education||1 Year experience equivalent to GS-5|
|GS-9||2 years of graduate-level education leading to a master's degree or master's degree or equivalent graduate degree||1 Year experience equivalent to GS-7|
|GS-11||3 years of graduate-level education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. degree or equivalent doctoral degree||1 Year experience equivalent to GS-9|
|GS-12 and Above||—||1 Year equivalent to next lower grade|
Clerical and Administrative Support Position Requirements
The table below shows the required work experience for Clerical and Administrative Support Positions. Grades for these position range from GS-1 to GS-6+, based on qualifications. Jobs that fall into this category include: Clerical positions, Stenographers, and Administrative Support.
|Grade||General Experience||Specialized Experience||Education|
|GS-2||3 months||—||High School Diploma or Equivalent|
|GS-3 (Clerk-Stenographer only)||6 months||—||High School Diploma or Equivalent|
|GS-3 (All Other Positions)||6 months||—||1 Year Above High School|
|GS-4||1 Year||—||2 Years Above High School|
|GS-5 (Clerk-Stenographer only)||2 Years||—||4 Years Above High School (except for Reporting Stenographer)|
|GS-5 (All Other Positions)||—||1 Year Equivalent to GS-4||—|
|GS-6 and Above||—||1 Year equivalent to next lower grade||—|