How to Apply: Frequent Questions about EPA Jobs, and Applying for EPA Jobs
How to Apply: Frequent Questions
On this page:
- Hiring process
- Vacancy announcement jargon
- Duties, responsibilities. and expectations
- Salaries and pay
- Employee benefits
How long does the hiring process take and what does it involve? When can I expect to hear whether or not I've been hired?
There is no single answer, and it will depend on:
- The security level of the position to be filled.
- The number of vacancies currently open.
- The availability of the selecting official to schedule interviews, check references, and make a hiring decision.
While some positions may be filled within 45 days after the advertisement closes, other times it may take two months or more. Note that once a selection is made it could take 2-8 weeks for the selectee to complete the entry process, including the background investigation. Our goal is to on-board selectees as soon as possible.
Is EPA continually hiring, or are career opportunities only available at certain times throughout the year?
EPA is continually hiring. However, there are times when specific parts of EPA might hire a large number of people at once to address a new regulation or requirement.
Do I need to take any government tests or get on any Office of Personnel Management (OPM) registers in order to qualify for a career with EPA?
No. EPA can hire its own employees without OPM review for most positions. Most of the time, we review your qualifications, but you won't take a test. That's why you have to give us your resume and answer certain questions when you apply. You may also be required to submit your college transcripts.
Do I need to include my social security number in my application?
Yes, we need your social security number. Learn why we need it and how we use it on our "How to Apply: Sharing Information from Your Application" page.
Can non-citizens work for EPA?
Generally, no. Only United States citizens and nationals may be appointed in the competitive civil service; however, federal agencies may employ certain non-citizens who meet specific employability requirements in the excepted service or the Senior Executive Service. You can learn more at the USAJobs Employment of Non-Citizens page.
Can I apply for jobs that require a security clearance?
Yes. EPA conducts a background investigation of every new employee and some jobs require a more extensive background investigation.
Do graduate degrees play an important role in advancement opportunities at EPA? If so, which specific degrees are you seeking?
For some positions, we actively seek people with advanced degrees. Advanced degrees can be used in lieu of experience. For example, having a Master's Degree could qualify you at the GS-9 level and having a Ph.D. Degree could qualify you at the GS-11 level. Many of the scientific positions, such as biologist or chemist, have a specific education requirement like a degree in that discipline. Once on board, there is no general, agency-wide requirement for an advanced degree to enhance promotional opportunity, but it can be a factor depending on the needs of the particular part of EPA.
Vacancy Announcement Jargon
What do vacancy announcements mean when the say they are open to "Status" or "Non-Status" applicants?
Applicants with "Status" are permanent federal employees on career or career-conditional appointments or former federal employees who were career or career-conditional. "Non-Status" applicants have not worked for the federal government on a career or career-conditional appointment.
What does it mean to be on a "Career" or "Career-Conditional" appointment?
Permanent appointments in the federal government are either career-conditional or career. Career-conditional appointments are generally used for initial appointments. Once an employee completes three years of continuous service under a career-conditional appointment, his or her appointment becomes career. Office of Personnel Management: Career-Conditional Appointments.
Duties, Responsibilities, and Expectations
Does EPA expect employees to relocate?
Unless specifically indicated as "remote," applicants should expect to report to the duty location listed in announcement at least some of the time. Many positions at EPA allow telework flexibilities depending on the duties of the position. You may apply for any job regardless of where you currently live, but we might not pay for you to move. Vacancy announcements include the job's location and whether we will pay travel and relocation expenses.
Do any positions require travel?
Some positions require a little travel and some a lot. It is important to establish how much when you accept a particular position.
Must I remain within a specific career track, once I'm working at EPA?
There is no requirement that you must remain in a particular career track or title such as a "Biologist." Many people change fields or from program to management positions with similar grade tracks but different duties.
Does EPA offer ongoing training opportunities?
Yes. Training opportunities are available through private vendors and accredited colleges and universities. If the training is job-related and funds are available, EPA can pay the total cost of the training.
Salaries and Pay
Visit the Salaries & Benefits page to find more information on pay for EPA employees.
What is the standard starting pay for positions at EPA?
In the federal government, most people are part of the "General Schedule" or GS, pay system, under which you will be assigned to a grade, from GS-1 to GS-15, and a step within that grade, from 1 to 10. Salaries vary by grade, step, and location. Generally speaking, higher grades earn more than lower grades, and higher steps earn more than lower steps within a single grade. The Office of Personnel Management determines the pay for each grade and each step.
Starting pay varies by the position and the level of responsibility. It is also adjusted by geographic location. Certain hard-to-fill jobs, usually in the scientific, technical, and medical fields, may have higher starting salaries. Exact pay information for each job can be found on the vacancy announcement.
Professional and administrative positions generally start at GS-5 for an entry level college graduate and GS-12/13 for a senior analyst or scientist.
Clerical positions may start at a General Schedule (GS) -2 grade level for an office automation clerk and GS-5 for a secretarial position.
Always note the "Promotion Potential" listed in the announcement. This is the grade to which you may be promoted without competing for promotion. For example, if the entry grade is a GS-07 and the Promotion Potential is a GS-12, the employee would be eligible for promotion to the GS-09 after one year, the GS-11 at the two year mark, and the GS-12 at the three year mark. The employee does not have to compete with others for said promotions.
Visit the Office of Personnel Management's Pay and Leave website to find policies and the most current pay tables.
How can I find out which grade I qualify for?
That depends upon the position you are applying for. Some jobs are listed at a specific grade. For others, EPA could hire you at one of several grades. In that case, you should compare your experience with the qualification requirements set forth on the specific job announcement.
Can I work for free for EPA, just to get some experience? If so, under what conditions?
Working for free for EPA is called a "volunteer" assignment. The only volunteers that can work for EPA are bona fide students who are fulfilling an internship or practicum requirement which must be certified by the school they attend. Learn more about unpaid internships at EPA.
Visit the Salaries & Benefits page to find more information on benefits for EPA employees.