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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Recruitment & Selection

Scientific or Professional Positions

The Scientific or Professional (ST) personnel system covers non-executive positions classified above the GS-15 level that involve performance of high-level research and development in the physical, biological, medical, or engineering sciences, or a closely-related field.

Research & Development Criteria: Research and development positions are characterized by the following features:

  • Systematic investigation of theory, experimentation, or simulation of experiments;

  • Application of the scientific method, including problem exploration and definition, planning of the approach and sequence of steps, execution of experiments or studies, interpretations of findings, and documentation or reporting of findings; and

  • Exercise of creativity and critical judgment, resulting in a substantial impact on the end product.

The qualifications, stature, and contributions of an individual involved in research and development have a direct and major impact on the level of difficulty and responsibility of the work. An incumbent would be expected to have a graduate degree, significant research experience, and a national or international reputation in his/her field. Typically, the incumbent of an ST position:

  • has authored fundamental papers in the field of expertise that are widely used and cited;

  • has received significant honors from major organizations for his/her accomplishments and contributions; and

  • is sought as an advisor and consultant on scientific and technological problems that extend beyond his/her specialty.

Supervisory Duties: ST positions may include some supervisory and related managerial duties, provided that these duties occupy less than 25 percent of the incumbent's time. Positions in which supervisory and managerial work constitutes 25 percent or more of the incumbent's time almost always meet the criteria for SES positions.

Competitive Status: All ST positions are in the competitive service.

Space Requirement: Executive agencies must have an ST space allocation from OPM before filling an ST position.

Pay: The base pay range for ST positions is between 120 percent of GS-15/1 and Executive Schedule IV. ST employees also receive locality pay. Base pay and locality pay for an ST employee is capped at Executive Schedule III.