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

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Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions

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Policies and Instructions

General Policies:
D. Description of Qualification Standards

  1. Purpose of Standards

    The qualification standards in this section help determine which applicants would be able to perform satisfactorily in the positions to be filled. The education, training, experience, or other requirements included in the qualification standards are minimum requirements, i.e., it would be unlikely that an applicant for employment would be able to perform satisfactorily in a particular position or occupational series if he or she did not possess these qualifications. The standards are designed to be easy to understand and to eliminate artificial barriers that hinder entrance into Federal occupational series.

    Many qualification standards include requirements such as the ability to communicate orally and/or in writing, or to produce information through the use of computers or other machines. Such ability requirements are not intended to limit how an applicant will physically perform a duty, i.e., they are not meant to exclude from consideration applicants with disabilities who have demonstrated that they can do the work in other ways, such as by using readers, interpreters, or voice-activated equipment. The required abilities are to ensure that the end product of the speaking, writing, etc. is of the appropriate level of competence. Agencies should keep in mind that reasonable accommodation, including job restructuring, must be considered in determining whether an individual meets the required KSA's.

  2. Content of Standards

    Most qualification standards permit applicants to qualify on the basis of education/training, experience, or a combination of the two. They include the patterns of education, training, and/or experience most commonly applicable to a particular occupational series. Some qualification standards, however, have specific educational, licensure, or certification requirements that may apply only to specific positions in an occupational series.

    In addition, the requirements in OPM qualification standards can be supplemented by selective or quality ranking factors as described below in E.6. and E.7.