Federal Jobs for Veterans
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One of the most difficult things a veteran must do after fulling their Service to the country is deciding what they are going to do after they get out of the military or how to transition from the military to the civilian world. I have personally been in the Federal Government over 13 years, and I work with a lot of veterans. There are many occupations a veteran can go into once they leave the military, but I highly suggest transitioning into the federal government, and it is not just because I am a Federal employee. As I mention on the main page there are many benefits, and I won't repeat all these benefits again, but rather what you need to know on how to get a job in the Federal Government.

First Step
You must allow yourself plenty of time to get a job in the Federal Government, the process is not easy, nor is it fast. Whether you are serving 4 years or 20 years in the Military, when you have 1 or 2 years left in your service you need to actively begin applying for a Federal job. I some times say the moon and stars have to line up

Second Step
There are several different jobs within the Federal Gov't from Law Enforcement to Office Positions, all over the country. I highly suggest you stay flexible in your job search, and location search. When I applied for my first Federal job we were living in Buffalo, NY, fresh out of college, and I put in for well over 100 jobs, for all sort of jobs all over the country. As much as I wanted to stay in Buffalo, there were just no Federal Jobs available at the time. I finally received a response from the U.S. Immigration Service in Dallas, Texas, and we immedately jumped on it, and 13 years later here I am. I know depending on family and situations it can be difficult to move anywhere in the country, but if you can do it, your chances of gettting a Federal Job has just increased 10 fold.

Step Three
Now it is time to actually look for a job. The best place to search for Federal Jobs is through the official Gov't site, and that site is
USA Jobs. This is the main site for the Federal Gov't to post jobs all over the country. This site is fairly straight forward, and there are several different ways to search for a job. You can do it by agency, location, job title, etc... Once you type in those parameters a list of jobs will become available.

Step Four
Once you find a job it can be difficult to read the annoucements, and I ll point out a few highlights you need to focus on.

Lets start with pay since most people are concern with this, and this will narrow a lot of jobs out. Lets start with what GS means. GS means General Schedule, and this is how the Federal Gov't sets the pay rates for different jobs. It is no secret what GS Federal Employees are paid, since the Pay Schedule is public knowledge. If you want the full list of General Schedule Pay Grades goto this link
OPM GS Pay Grade. Keep in mind each city has a different locality pay value, since some cities receive higher locality pay than others because the cost of living is higher.
The below chart is just an example of what the GS Pay Scale looks like, keep in mind this is a old pay scale, and the salary ranges are different from one city to the next.
Now, this can be confusing so stick with me. On the left side you will see Grade 1 through 15, and on the top you will see Step 1 through Step 10. Okay, lets say you found a job and it says the job pay scale is from GS 5 through GS 9. This means you will goto the chart and look at GS 5 Step 1, since this is the salary you will start at, and this amount is $25,623. Depending on the salary requirments most jobs that are from GS 5 through GS 9, means you will spend one year at GS 5 ($25,623), one year at GS 7 ($31,740), and finally "capping out" at GS 9 ($38,824). So, you will stay one year at each grade until you reach your full grade.

Once you reach your full grade at GS 9, then you will start to move along the Step increase to the right. You are now a GS 9 Step 1 ($38,824) you will remain here for 1 Year, after year 1 you will then goto Step 2 ($40,118), after year 2 you will then goto Step 3 ($41,412), after year 3 you will goto Step 4 ($42,706). Once you reach Step 4 it will take you 2 years to get to Step 5 ($44,000), from Step 5 to Step 6 another 2 years, Step 6 to Step 7 another 2 years. From Step 7 to Step 8 it then takes 3 years, from Step 8 to Step 9 it then takes 3 years, and finally from Step 9 to Step 10 it takes 3 years, and you cannot go any higher than GS 9 Step 10 ($50,470), UNLESS you get a promotion and go into another higher position. Bascially to go from Step 1 to Step 10 will take 17years.

I know this is sort of confusing, but this is how the GS Pay Scale works.

There are a few things I want to summarize when it comes to Gov't Pay.
1) Nearly every year you will receive a cost a living increase of 3.9%.
2) Overtime you receive time in half in non-supvisory positions. Depending on where you are at you may have un-limited overtime, and some places may never offer overtime. There is a limit on how much overtime you can make in one year, and that limit is $30,000.
3) Yes, the pay is low when you first enter into the Gov't, but the more time you stay in the more you receive. Depending on where you work, and how much overtime you have access to you can easily make over $100,000, so if you stick with it the pay off is worth it long term.

So, this explains how the pay works, and how to read it off the announcement. The next thing you want to look at is "Who May Apply" This will weed out a lot of people, since some jobs are only open to exisiting federal employees, or it may be open to all US Citizens.

This is very important, but you must look at the Position Information. You need to find out of if this is a permanent position, seasonal, or temporary. I highly suggest trying to get a permanent position, but temporary positions are not bad, and offer a foot in the door.

Next, check the job location, since it might not be in your local area, but as I said before you need to be flexible, take a job anywhere, and then work your way back to where you want to be.

This covers how and what to look for in applying for a Federal Job. Lets now look at general benefits.

Of course Health Insurance is very good with the Federal Gov't depending on who you go with, and what coverage you are looking for. On average you will pay roughly $300 a month for full health coverage.

Sick Leave you accure 4hrs of sick leave every pay period which is every two weeks. You can accumlate as much sick leave as you want there is not limit, however when you retire under the FERS system you will lose your sick leave.

Annual Leave you accure 4hrs every two weeks, until you reach 3 years of Service then you receive 6hrs of annual leave every two weeks, until you reach 15years of Service then you receive 8hrs of annual leave and it remains that way. You can only carry over 240hrs of leave per year, so if you are over that amount at the end of the year you have to use the additional leave or you will lose it. If you have 240hrs when you retire, the Gov't will pay you for those hours. Depending on your pay grade you can receive $10,000 for this leave.

Working hours vary on location and job. There is flex time where you can work either 8hrs or 10hrs a day, you determine what your schedule is. Then there are fix schedules and you are told when to work. There is also telework, meaning you can work at home, depending on your location and job.

There are two different retirement systems 1) You receive a general government retirement which takes your last 3 year high years of Service, and you will receive roughly 30% give or take of that amount. 2) You then have a plan called TSP Thrift Savings Plan, you can contribute 3% to 15%, and the Government will match 5% of that contribution. So, if you contribute 10% plus 5% Gov't that equal 15% of your pay going towards your retirement. For most Federal Employees this where their largest retirement funds will come from, and that is the TSP. Now, if you are retired Military person, you can collect your general retirement, TSP, and Military retirement. This is why I highly suggest most Military retires to transitition into the Federal Gov't.

Step 5
There are different educational requirements most jobs do not require a college education, but having a college degree greatly enhances your chances for a Federal Job. You just need to great the job description. 

This sort of sums up the big ticket items, there are alot more details on the Government's Main Website OPM
Office of Personnel Management. I highly suggest you visit OPM to get more details if you are interested.

As I mention before, I believe the Government is an excellent choice for employment, but it is not easy to get in. It takes a lot of flexability, and vigilance, but it is worth the effort.

If you have any questions please email me at
greg@jacobsatvmagazine.com