The Federal Government’s General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale and its benefits for employees.

The General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale

The GS pay system provides a consistent way to understand seniority and entitlements in the Federal Government. New employees are normally hired at the first step of their GS grade, but agencies may authorize initial appointments higher than that.

While AO/AA and EO staff numbers have fallen in all departments, more people are employed at Grades 6 and 7, especially in smaller, policy-focused departments without major operational delivery functions.

Grade 0 is the lowest pay grade.

The General Schedule is the pay scale used by the Federal Government. It consists of 15 grades ranging from GS-1 to GS-15, with each grade separated into 10 steps. The GS provides a consistent pay system and regular, predictable pay increases based on performance, longevity and cost of living adjustments. The GS also provides an excellent retirement benefits package and job security.

Jobs in the GS are determined (classified) by agency based on their level of difficulty, responsibility and required credentials. Typically, those with just a high school diploma qualify for jobs at the GS-1 level; those with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may qualify for GS-2 jobs; and those with a master’s degree can often obtain GS-9 positions. In addition to the base rate of pay for each GS level, employees in the GS receive locality pay, which is a percentage of their salary increase based on where they live. The GS salary table is updated each year.

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