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Electrical engineers with the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) are in the GS-0850 job series. They must know and understand electrical engineering concepts, theories, principles, and practices applicable to the design and efficient operation and maintenance of power plants, pumping plants, electrical systems, transmission systems, and associated USBR equipment.

According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook there are 306,100 electrical engineers working in America and their average median salary is $89,630 a year or $43.09 per hour. The federal government employs 4,858 electrical engineers of which 67 work overseas. The Department of the Navy and Army are the largest employers with 3,015 civilians followed by the Department of Energy with 533. The Department of Transportation employs 116 in the GS-0850 job series. All cabinet level agencies except for the Department of Education and some large independent agencies employ electrical  engineers.

Electronics engineers working with the federal government develop, research, and often evaluate electronic devices that are used in a number of areas and applications including computing, aviation, manufacturing, and transportation. They work on federal electronic systems and devices such as radar, navigation, communications, satellites, flight systems, sonar and other related  systems.

Part 1 of this series titled Working for the Bureau of Reclamation will familiarize you with this diverse and essential organization.  There are many engineering job opportunities available in the private sector and federal government if you take the time to seek them out. If you are looking for a federal government job seek out job announcements for the GS-0850 job series and apply for all vacancies in your area.  You can explore careers with agencies in your area by conducting informational interviews that can get your foot in the door if handled properly.

Q&A with Alejandro Buitrago

 

Alejandro Buitrago, Electrical Engineer

Alejandro Buitrago, Electrical Engineer

Alejandro Buitrago is an Electrical Engineer (GS-0850), Department of Interior/Bureau of Reclamation/ Power System Analysis & Control Group.

Why did you choose to become an Electrical Engineer?

After 5 years of service in the Navy as an electrician, I discovered a passion for troubleshooting electrical circuits and a need to improve the operation of electrical equipment.

Are there any parts of job that are considered dangerous?

My team collects performance data from generators during operation, which requires extreme caution because of the potential danger. Reclamation’s main concern is safety.

What is the most interesting part of your job as an Electrical Engineer?

Solving difficult problems. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to correct malfunctioning equipment and knowing that when you leave the facility the units will be performing correctly at their full capability.

What is the most demanding or challenging part of being an Electrical Engineer?

Keeping up with technology. Technology is evolving every day and as a group we need to keep up with technology to guarantee optimal operation of our plants and consequently efficient delivery of power and water to the American people.

Would you recommend the Electrical Engineering career path?

I recommend choosing a career in which you will be happy, and if that is to become an engineer, be aware that it is a challenging and rewarding field.

Electrical Engineer (GS-0850) Job Occupation

Duties

–       Provide electrical engineering expertise on maintenance of electrical equipment and installation of new electrical equipment for the power plants, switchyards, dams and associated facilities

–       Prepare design modifications and specifications to modify, replace, or repair diverse and often complex systems, or components of such systems.

–       Provide electrical engineering expertise in modernizing powerplants, switchyards, dams, or associated facilities.

–       Provide technical support and project engineering support to a wide variety of engineering projects that includes planning, design, and installation.

Qualifications and Education Requirements

–       Must be a U.S. citizen to apply

–       Pay range for a GS-7/11 is from $45,057.00 to $91,255.00 / Per Year

–       Degree: professional engineering. To be acceptable, the curriculum must: (1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.

–       Combination of education and experience — college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such back

–       Professional registration — Current registration as a professional engineer by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico.

–       Written Test– Evidence of having successfully passed the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) examination, or the written test required for professional registration, which is administered by the Boards of Engineering Examiners in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

–       Specified academic courses — Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and in engineering that included the courses specified in the basic requirements. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of a professional engineering curriculum.

–       Related curriculum — Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology or in an appropriate professional field, e.g., physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance. Ordinarily there should be either an established plan of intensive training to develop professional engineering competence, or several years of prior professional engineering-type experience, e.g., in interdisciplinary positions. (The above examples of related curricula are not all-inclusive.)

Specialized Experience Requirements

In addition to the basic education requirement, you must meet the specialized experience requirement as delineated below:

–       For GS-07: One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level GS-05 in the federal service. Specialized experience at this level is defined as experience with Electrical Engineering theories, principles, and practices working with electrical power, communication, and control drawings. Experience that included industrial systems and electrical work on large facilities.

–       For GS-09: One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level GS-07 in the federal service. Specialized experience at this level is defined as experience with Electrical Engineering theories, principles, and practices working with electrical power, communication, and control drawings. Experience with the evaluation of alternative plans, assisting with the determination of engineering feasibility of potential plans and features, and assisting with the preparation of designs and cost estimates for electrical systems. Examples of electrical systems may range from communications to industrial systems and electrical transmission facilities.

–       For GS-11: One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level GS-09 in the federal service. Specialized experience at this level is defined as experience with Electrical Engineering theories, principles, and practices applicable to the formulation and evaluation of alternative plans, determination of engineering feasibility of potential plans and features, and preparation of designs and cost estimates for a wide variety of electrical systems. Examples of electrical systems range from communications, to circuit breakers and transformers, and include control and protective sub-systems. Experience in the repair, testing, or modification of electrical equipment and systems typical in most power generation facilities.

–       For GS-12: One year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower grade level GS-11 in the federal service. Specialized experience at this level is defined as experience with Electrical Engineering theories, principles, and practices applicable to the formulation and evaluation of alternative plans, determination of engineering feasibility of potential plans and features, and preparation of designs and cost estimates for a wide variety of electrical systems. Examples of electrical systems range from communications, to large generators, 500-kV circuit breakers and transformers, and include control and protective sub-systems. Experience in the repair, testing, or modification of electrical equipment and systems typical in most power generation facilities.
The USBR job occupations explored in this series are just the beginning of what great opportunities that await you at this unique agency.

Credits

  • Peter Soeth, Public Affairs, Commissioner’s Office, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO
  • Matt Mishkind PhD, SPHR,Team Lead for Training, Systems, and Human Capital Strategy, Human Resources Policy and Programs Division Policy and Administration, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO
  • Photos were provided by the Bureau of Reclamation

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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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