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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

What does GS, WS, WG, YA, VN etc. mean in a position’s title?

Positions within the Federal Government are classified by occupational series, grade or pay level, and pay plan. Pay plans identify the pay system under which the position is covered. Many white-collar employees are paid under the General Schedule (GS), which is regulated by title 5 and administered by OPM. GS positions, including other white-collar positions, are paid annual salaries. Current GS salaries may be viewed at http://www.opm.gov/oca/06tables/index.asp.

Blue-collar employees are paid under the Federal Wage System (FWS). FWS positions are craft, trade, and laboring positions and include several different pay plans (WS, WG, WL, etc.). FWS positions are paid on an hourly basis. For current FWS rates, please visit http://www.opm.gov/oca/wage/Wagesch.asp and select a state and county for the corresponding wage schedule.

Some agencies have statutory authority to administer their own pay systems. Employees within these agencies may be paid under separate pay systems (e.g., pay bands) with separate pay plan codes. For instance, the YA pay plan is used only by the Department of Defense for positions classified under the National Security Personnel System (NSPS). The VN pay plan is specific to nursing positions within the Department of Veteran Affairs. Because of variations in independent personnel systems across the Federal Government, it is recommended applicants contact the hiring agency directly to obtain definitive information about pay plans other than the GS.

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