Engineers have a definite
advantage in the federal job search. The demand for
engineering professionals in federal service has placed this
occupation into the hard-to-fill category, resulting in
special salary rates for engineers.
The federal government employs
thousands of engineers throughout the United States and
overseas. These positions range from GS-5 to GS-15 and into
the Senior Executive Service level in more than twenty
disciplines and occupational specialties.
Here we have an occupational
field in which demand outweighs supply, standard federal pay
is supplemented and the promotion potential is good. But
before you run out to complete a federal application package,
make sure your qualifications can meet some of the most
stringent standards in federal employment.
Engineering positions have what
is known as a positive education requirement. You must
have completed a four-year degree in engineering (not
engineering technology) from an accredited college or
university. There are alternative ways to qualify, such as:
The documentation of these
alternative qualifications must be thorough. And, of course,
the completion of a graduate degree in engineering puts you
one step ahead. If you can meet these requirements, then you
should take the time to fill out a strong and competitive
- professional registration as
an engineer through any state;
- passing the
engineer-in-training exam accompanied by an engineering
- or a four-year degree in
engineering technology coupled with at least one year of
experience in engineering under the supervision of a
In most cases basic
qualification is based on your education. The grade level at
which you are qualified (thus the corresponding rate of pay)
is based on the description of your past experience as
detailed in the narrative portion of your application.
You should document this
experience in a narrative segment outlining your duties and
responsibilities. This narrative description is a vital part
of your application, and should be included regardless of
which application format you choose to use (that is, the
SF-171, OF-612 or federal-style resume).
- Your basic education will
qualify you at the GS-5 level.
- However, superior academic
achievement, roughly a grade point average of 3.0 overall
or 3.5 in your major, can qualify you as a GS-7.
- Qualification at the GS-9
level and above is based on the length and extent of your
Most mid- and senior-level
engineering positions involve not only technical engineering
responsibilities but also managerial duties. The higher
the grade level, the greater the managerial responsibility.
Your qualifications in both areas must be thoroughly described
in your narrative. You should target your application toward a
specific area of specialization based on your training and
experience. These areas include aerospace, agricultural,
biomedical, ceramics, chemical, civil, computer, electrical,
electronic, environmental, fire prevention, industrial,
mechanical, mining, naval architecture, nuclear, petroleum,
safety, thermal and welding. (Note: Engineering specialties
all have a specific occupational series number within the
GS-800 occupational group. Be specific about the
technical knowledge, skills, and responsibilities required in
your past jobs. Give detailed information regarding projects,
technology, techniques, tools and methods you have used.
Define the scope and impact of
- If you were responsible for
design, manufacture and installation of thermal controls
on a communications satellite, say so. Fully describe the
complexity of your past experience.
- Were you incorporating and
integrating widely divergent factors and variables?
- Were your designs affected
by the environment, economy, technological advances,
projected use and exposure to natural or manmade
- Were you coordinating your
work with engineers from many different disciplines?
Describe the impact your work had
on a particular project or on the field as a whole. The
greater the impact, the higher the rating.
- Did you design computer
systems to maintain data for the social security system,
serving millions of people nation- wide?
- Did you design highway
bridges that carried thousands of cars on a daily basis?
- Did those specifications
become the standard on which other bridge plans were
Upper level engineers typically
serve as program or project managers with responsibility for
human, material and financial resource management. Be specific
about the numbers and level of subordinates under your
If you handled the acquisition and
management of human resources, provide detailed information.
Describe your experience in material resource acquisition and
allocation. This simply refers to your responsibilities for
obtaining necessary materials and ensuring that they were used
in an effective manner. This can be anything from purchasing
paper and paper clips in support of the contract proposal
process, to the complex procurement of state-of-the-art
mainframe computers to support highly technical
number-crunching. The higher the dollar value and the more
complex the purchase, the more credit you will receive.
- Did you hire and train these
- Were they professional
engineers or technicians?
- Did you create work
schedules and assign tasks?
- Did you make assignments
based on a person's interests and capabilities?
- Were you responsible for
disciplining or firing employees, or involved in a
grievance from the management side?
And finally, remember to
address financial management responsibilities.
The more money you controlled and
saved, the more highly your past experience will be rated. By
fully describing both your technical and managerial
experience, (clearly defining your duties, knowledge, skills
and responsibilities), you can create an application package
that will enable you to effectively compete for these very
attractive federal engineering positions.
- Did you administer a budget?
- Did you create line item
projections and justify your re- quests?
- Did you conduct variance
analyses when the numbers didn't match up?
- Were you ultimately
responsible for the profit or loss of your operation?
- Did you save your
organization significant amounts of money?
To view all current Engineering
positions in in our FedJobs database:
- Go to http://www.fedjobs.com/jobdb/intermediate
- Under the Series Code,
enter the code "0800"
- Click submit search to view
all Engineer-related job openings.