What is a General Schedule (GS) Grade and How Does it Affect Federal Archaeologists?

Posted on January 10, 2014

1


To continue my series looking at US Federal Archaeologists I will take a look at GS and what it means for Federal Archaeologists- The General Schedule (GS) is the pay skill system that the Federal Government in the US uses for the majority of Federal Archaeologists, and majority of Federal employees. There are other pay scales, like the Senior Executive Service and the Executive Schedule pay scales for high-ranking federal employees, but almost all archaeologists, in the Federal Government are on the GS.

The General Schedule has 15 grades from GS-1 (lowest) to GS-15 (highest). Each government agency establishes the grade of each job based on the level of difficulty, responsibility, and qualifications required. The OPM states that, “Individuals with a high school diploma and no additional experience typically qualify for GS-2 positions; those with a Bachelor’s degree for GS-5 positions; and those with a Master’s degree for GS-9 positions.”So when you see an advertisement for a Federal job and it says GS-blah you know they are talking about a pay level, and a little bit more (I will get to that).

Each grade has 10 step rates (steps 1-10) that are each worth approximately 3 percent of the employee’s salary. Steps are essentially incremental pay increases based on performance and length of service. Usually, one starts on the first step for each grade.

Change in pay across GS grade based on steps.

Change in pay across GS grade based on steps.

The length of service increases typically occur in the following order:

• 1 year at steps 1-3

• 2 years at steps 4-6

• 3 years at steps 7-9

It normally takes 18 years to advance from step 1 to step 10 within a single GS grade if an employee remains in that single grade. However, employees can advance steps based on outstanding performance ratings, though only one per year.

GS grades do not just denote levels of pay but also levels of responsibility for the work undertaken. There is even a guidance laying out the responsibilities associated with 0193 archaeologists and the different GS grades.

“Regardless of the specialization, positions in this series are characterized, at the full performance levels (GS-9 and above), by the ability to apply professional knowledge and skills to the solution of problems generally concerned with nonroutine phases of archeological work.

Also included in this series are positions generally at the lower levels (GS-5 and GS-7) involving performance of archeological duties in a trainee or developmental capacity when the following factors are present: An actual objective of the work is to prepare the employees forfull-professional archeological work of a higher level; there is a line of promotion to full-professional positions in the organization; assigned duties are of such a nature and variety as to constitute important elements of preparation for full-professional archeology work; assigned duties include or require the study of new developments in the technical literature in archaeology and related professional fields of work; the employees possess the qualifications which are consonant with professional scientific or technical training equivalent to that represented by graduation from an accredited college or university; and the supervision exercised over the positions is directed in part to the career development of the employees.”

Essentially, GS-9 and above positions are consider full professionals why those below are considered training positions. The implications of this can be seen in the distribution of the GS grades across both the 0193 and 0102 positions (see my last post on the difference between these two, 0193 archaeologists and 0102 SS Tech, and where the data below comes from). For example, for the 0193 positions most of the Archaeologists are a GS-9 or above (i.e. professional positions).

Distribution of GS grades for 0193 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

Distribution of GS grades for 0193 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

Interestingly there has been a decrease in GS-9, and below, positions since 1998 and an increase in GS-11 and GS-12 positions. A slight blip in N/A positions in the late 2000s might have been the result of different changes in pay scales during that time.

Increases and decreases in different 0193 Archaeologists’ GS grades from 1998 to 2012

Increases and decreases in different 0193 Archaeologists’ GS grades from 1998 to 2012

For 0102 archaeology-based jobs we see a very different picture with most of the positions being GS-5s or GS-7s. There are a few employed at higher grades and lower but overall these two grades dominate, between 70-80%, 0102 positions.

Distribution of GS grades for 0102 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

Distribution of GS grades for 0102 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

In the last few years there has been a switch between the percentage of GS-5 and GS-7 grades. A welcomed development as it means more of the seasonal archaeology staff for the Federal Government are being paid higher wages.

Increases and decreases in different 0102 Archaeologists’ GS grades from 1998 to 2012

Increases and decreases in different 0102 Archaeologists’ GS grades from 1998 to 2012

The combined spread of archaeologists shows a strong concentration in the GS 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12, grades with GS-11 having the highest current concentration. Around a quarter of all archaeology job are under the GS-11 grade.

Distribution of GS grades for combined 0102 and 1093 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

Distribution of GS grades for combined 0102 and 1093 Archaeologists from 1998-2012

What does this all mean if you are looking for a job? Well for one GS-7 and below are beginning jobs, so apply according to your skills. Also- don’t just narrow your search to 0193 positions most of the beginning training positions are actually labelled 0102 Social Science Aid or Technician.

Here is the data I used for those figures.

0102 Technician that are archaeologists-

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
GS 1 1 1 1
GS 2 2 1 2 2 1 3 3 1 1
GS 3 11 7 6 21 22 26 21 23 13 22 32 28 34 13 13
GS 4 50 48 32 64 47 30 37 31 23 39 46 83 54 43 43
GS 5 160 173 152 168 183 192 167 137 115 121 165 181 180 153 153
GS 6 20 23 20 17 18 22 21 30 19 27 32 47 39 44 35
GS 7 120 118 121 129 163 145 150 136 120 129 144 184 204 181 194
GS 8 3 2 3 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 1
GS 9 8 9 7 5 5 6 6 6 4 6 7 5 5 4 5
N/A 1

0193 archaeologists

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
GS 4 1 1 1
GS 5 25 34 40 34 32 37 32 19 22 23 11 8 10 3 10
GS 6 1
GS 7 90 66 65 105 87 76 63 77 42 43 44 35 43 30 32
GS 9 251 231 242 272 269 257 255 237 217 226 231 238 261 232 222
GS 11 343 336 342 349 376 397 416 412 405 388 378 381 424 447 464
GS 12 241 251 269 277 297 305 306 308 316 293 256 264 364 364 376
GS 13 78 87 93 100 95 93 93 97 90 77 76 75 92 98 96
GS 14 13 12 13 12 14 20 17 18 17 11 10 10 21 23 28
GS 15 4 4 6 6 6 7 9 9 8 7 6 7 7 8 9
N/A 2 2 3 3 4 5 9 10 9 70 122 147 15 14 9
General Schedule and Related Grade – All 1,048 1024 1,073 1,158 1,180 1198 1,201 1,187 1,126 1,138 1,134 1,165 1,237 1,219 1,246
About these ads
Posted in: Uncategorized