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Education Requirements

Substituting Education for Experience



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


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Can Education Be Substituted for Required Work Experience?  

Page updated 4/14/2019

Substituting education for work experience for federal jobs

Education can generally be substituted for required general and specialized experience.  One specialty may permit study successfully completed in schools above high school level to be substituted for general and specialized experience at the rate of 1 academic year of study for nine months of experience.  The conversion rate various depending on the career. The converse is also true. Work experience, in many cases, can be substituted for required college degrees. For example, in the Administrative Management career fields, 3 years of general work experience can be substituted for a 4-year course of study leading to a bachelor's degree. Most are unaware of this conversion.

In the federal government, fifty five percent of all workers do not have a college degree. The level of required education depends upon the job that you apply for. Job announcement list required skills and abilities including education and work experience. However, the more education and work experience you have, the more competitive you will be when ranked against other applicants.  


You can review and download qualification standards that outline required education and what can be substituted for either work experience and/or education. You can often substitute work experience for a college degree in many fields. Refer to the qualification standard, you will find that you can typically substitute three years, one year equivalent to at least a GS-4, of general work experience for a four-year course of study leading to a bachelor’s degree. Many look at the job announcement and see “Bachelor’s Degree” and pass up the job not knowing that three years general experience could qualify them for the position. Read the entire job announcement, front to back, before eliminating the job from consideration.

Often applicants neglect to add valuable work experience and training to their job application package. Most HR specialists and announcements requests that you go back ten years for your work history. Go back as many years as needed to capture related education and experience. For example, if you were a supply specialist in the military in 1990, and you are applying for a supply/logistics position, then by all means add your military experience and training to your application. I suggest that you always add your military experience no matter how far back it may be.