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The Book of U.S. Government Jobs - 11th edition

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How Much Training Does a Federal Employee Need?  

Page updated 7/10/2016

Federal job training requirements and opportunities

The training and educational requirements for federal jobs mirror those in the private sector. Many jobs in professional and related occupations, for example, require a four-year college degree. Some, such as physicians, surgeons, engineers, and physical and biological scientists, require a bachelor’s or higher degree in a their field of study. Because managers usually are promoted from professional occupations, most have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, registered nurses and many technician occupations may be entered with two years of training after high school. Office and administrative support workers in the government usually need only a high school diploma, although any further training or experience, such as a junior college degree or a couple of years of relevant work experience, is an asset. Most federal jobs in other occupations require no more than a high school degree, although most departments and agencies prefer workers with vocational training or previous experience.

Once the person is hired each federal agency or department determines its training requirements and offers workers opportunities to improve job skills to advance to other jobs often through the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs). These may include technical or skills training, tuition assistance or reimbursement, fellowship programs, and executive leadership and management training programs, seminars, and workshops. This federal job training may be offered on the job, by another agency, or at local colleges and universities.

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Typically, workers that haven't graduated from high school are hired as clerks starting at the GS-1 grade unless they have 6 months of general experience to qualify for a GS-03. Those with a high school diploma without additional training of any type are hired at the same job starting at grade 2 or 3. New hires with some technical training or experience that are hired as technicians may start at grade 4. If you have a bachelor’s degree generally you can be hired in professional occupations with a career progression (called a career ladder in the federal government, starting at the  GS-5 or 7 grade, depending on academic achievement. Entrants with a master’s degree or Ph.D. often start at a GS-9 grade. A professional degrees allows applicants to be hired at the GS-11 or 12 level and those with a combination of education and substantial experience may be hired at higher grades than those with education alone  

Many agencies have their own federal training facilities' such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) where they have a major training facility in Oklahoma city and a management training facility in Palm Coast Florida. Many technicians are required to attend initial equipment training and frequent update training as equipment is replaced with updated systems. On site on-the-job-training (OJT) is required to attain system certifications and to train specialist and technicians on system upgrades. Over a period of 35 years, Dennis Damp, the author of The Book of U.S. Government Jobs spent over 3 years at training facilities for either systems he maintained and in later years for supervisory and management training.