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Classification & Qualifications General Schedule Qualification Standards

All Professional Engineering Positions, 0800

Individual Occupational Requirements

Basic Requirements:

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 background must be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • Professional registration -- Current registration as a professional engineer by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board's eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.

  • Written Test-- Evidence of having succesfully 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.

    Applicants who have passed the EIT examination and have completed all the requirements for either (a) a bachelor's degree in engineering technology (BET) from an accredited college of university that included 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences, or (b) a BET from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be rated eligible for certain engineering positions at GS-5. Eligibility is limited to positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of the engineering technology program. Applicants for positions that involve highly technical research, development, or similar functions requiring an advanced level of competence in basic science must meet the basic requirements in paragraph A.

    Because of the diversity in kind and quality of BET programs, graduates of other BET programs are required to complete at least 1 year of additional education or highly technical work experience of such nature as to provide reasonable assurance of the possession of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for professional engineering competence. The adequacy of this background must be demonstrated by passing the EIT examination.

  • 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 as described in paragraph A.

  • 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.)


An applicant who meets the basic requirements as specified in A or B above may qualify for positions in any branch of engineering unless selective factors indicate otherwise, or unless he/she qualifies under the provisions of B.2 related to the EIT examination or BET degree.

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Additional Experience and Training Provisions for Graduates of Professional Engineering Curricula:

  1. Superior academic achievement at the baccalaureate level in a professional engineering curriculum is qualifying for GS-7.
  2. Individuals can be converted noncompetitively to a GS-7 position if they complete all the requirements of a Federal baccalaureate level student-trainee program, including 1040 hours of work experience, 320 hours of which was at the GS-5 level.
  3. A combination of superior academic achievement and 1 year of appropriate professional experience is qualifying at GS-9.
  4. Applicants with an engineering degree who have appropriate experience as a technician equivalent to grade GS-5 or higher may have such experience credited for grade GS-7 only on a month-for-month basis up to a maximum of 12 months.
  5. Successful completion of a 5-year program of study of at least 160 semester hours leading to a bachelor's degree in engineering is qualifying at GS-7. Completion of such a program and 1 year of appropriate professional experience is qualifying at grade GS-9.

Definition of Professional Engineering Experience: The professional engineering experience required for grades GS-7 and above is defined as nonroutine engineering work that required and was characterized by (1) professional knowledge of engineering; (2) professional ability to apply such knowledge to engineering problems; and (3) positive and continuing development of professional knowledge and ability.

Professional knowledge of engineering is defined as the comprehensive, indepth knowledge of mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences applicable to a specialty field of engineering that characterizes a full 4-year professional engineering curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree, or the equivalent.

Professional ability to apply engineering knowledge is defined as the ability to (a) apply fundamental and diversified professional engineering concepts, theories, and practices to achieve engineering objectives with versatility, judgment, and perception; (b) adapt and apply methods and techniques of related scientific disciplines; and (c) organize, analyze, interpret, and evaluate scientific data in the solution of engineering problems.

Professional work in engineering, like that in other professions, is marked by continuing personal effort to keep abreast of the advancing and changing discipline. Continuing education in engineering and related fields is an important element of full professional competence as an engineer that should be considered in evaluating the qualifications of applicants for professional engineering positions.

In some situations, experience may be creditable even if it is not clearly professional engineering work. In such cases, the experience must have been preceded by prior responsible professional engineering experience and must contribute directly and significantly to the applicant's engineering competence. For example, an engineer might be assigned to a management-type position in preparation for assumption of higher-level responsibilities in engineering project or program management.

Graduate Education:

  1. Individuals can be converted noncompetitively to a GS-9 position if they complete all the requirements of a Federal graduate-level student-trainee program, including completion of a master's degree in engineering and completion of 640 hours of work experience, 320 hours of which was at GS-7.
  2. Regardless of the field of undergraduate study, completion of the requirements for a master's or higher degree in engineering is fully qualifying for the grade indicated, provided the applicant's total background, i.e., education and any experience, demonstrates evidence of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are substantially equivalent to those acquired through the successful completion of the courses specified in paragraph A.
  3. With a bachelor's degree in engineering, graduate education in a related field is acceptable in lieu of graduate study in engineering for appropriate types of positions. For example, a B.S. in engineering plus a master's degree in business administration would be qualifying for Industrial Engineer, GS-9, but not for GS-9 laboratory positions in research and development. The key consideration in determining if such graduate education should be credited is whether or not the education provided the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform the work of the position being filled.

Special Competence in Particular Areas of Engineering: Many engineering positions demand specific competence in a particular function or area. For such positions, agencies may use selective factors to identify those applicants whose records show evidence of the required capabilities. Such selective factors can be used for positions at all grade levels covered by this standard.

Engineering Registration: Registration as a professional engineer is an appropriate selective factor for appointment to certain, typically high-level, engineering positions. The key consideration is that registration must be essential for acceptable performance of the work of the position to be filled. Accordingly, it is an appropriate requirement for positions with duties and responsibilities that satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • Responsibility for final approval of designs of major structures and facilities involving public safety where such compliance with State laws meets an essential need of the engineering organization to provide objective evidence to agency management and the public that the work is performed by engineers of proven competence.
  • Responsibility for engineering determinations concerning contract awards or other major aspects of design and construction work to be performed by engineers in the private sector, where registration is essential to have their full confidence and respect to achieve cooperation on critical engineering issues.

When an engineering position has duties and responsibilities that would support a requirement for registration and a requirement is established, the position description should clearly document the basis for the requirement. It would be inappropriate to require that applicants be registered for positions with less responsibility than that indicated above, for positions that involve responsibilities and functions such as research and development, or for the sole purpose of improving the "image" of engineers in the Federal service. For those positions where registration is an appropriate requirement, such positions have been characteristically filled by registered professional engineers. If a currently filled position is newly identified as requiring a professional engineer, the requirement for registration should be waived for the duration of the employee's incumbency.

The Engineer-in-Training Test: The Engineer-in-Training (EIT) test is the first part of the professional registration examination for engineers in the various States. The EIT test is a test of engineering fundamentals generally taken by engineering school seniors or recent graduates. Those who pass are certified as Engineer-in-Training. The second part of the registration examination, covering practice in a branch of engineering, is taken after a specified period of experience required for registration as a professional engineer.

The EIT test is used under this standard to determine whether competitors without a degree in engineering or other qualifying education have a knowledge and understanding of mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences required to perform professional engineering work in a specialty field of engineering. This test is not to be considered as being in lieu of the requirement of at least 4 years of experience and/or education that might be regarded as providing such knowledge.

The EIT test is developed and administered by the State Board of Engineering Examiners in each State or comparable jurisdiction. The test is not administered by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management. Persons who desire to take the Engineer-in-Training test should direct their inquiries to the Secretaries of the appropriate State Boards.

College Teaching: College-level teaching of engineering may be considered as professional experience in engineering. In accepting and evaluating teaching experience, all specific qualification requirements pertaining to the evaluation of professional experience such as grade level, responsibility, scope, specialization, and knowledge required are also applicable to the evaluation of teaching experience. Teaching experience that is accompanied by a significant amount of research, direction of research, investigative, or similar work may be credited at full value in meeting a specific requirement for research, investigative, or similar experience.

Guide for the Evaluation of Engineering Curricula: The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (formerly the Engineers' Council for Professional Development) accredits specific engineering and engineering technology curricula; it does not accredit institutions. Thus, an accredited college may have (1) ABET-accredited professional engineering curricula; (2) professional engineering curricula that are not ABET-accredited; and (3) 4-year curricula in engineering technology that may or may not be ABET-accredited.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology publishes two bulletins: "Accredited Curricula Leading to First Degrees in Engineering" and "Accredited Curricula Leading to First Degrees in Engineering Technology." Those wishing to obtain copies of these bulletins should contact the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 345 East 47th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017. A summary of ABET-accredited engineering programs also appears periodically in the Journal of Engineering Education.

Some engineering curricula are acceptable as meeting the basic requirements even though such curricula are not specifically accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. As a general rule, any professional engineering curriculum in an engineering school that has one or more of its curricula accredited by ABET may be accepted. It should be noted, however, that some universities have curricula identified as engineering curricula outside the engineering school, e.g., in the school of architecture or forestry. Such curricula need to be reviewed to see if they comply with the requirements of paragraph A.(2) of the basic requirements.

Occupations Covered by GS-800 Individual Requirements
Occupation TitleSeries Number
General Engineering Series GS-801
Safety Engineering Series GS-803
Fire Protection Engineering Series GS-804
Materials Engineering Series GS-806
Civil Engineering Series GS-810
Environmental Engineering Series GS-819
Mechanical Engineering Series GS-830
Nuclear Engineering Series GS-840
Electrical Engineering Series GS-850
Computer Engineering Series GS-854
Electronics Engineering Series GS-855
Biomedical Engineering Series GS-858
Aerospace Engineering Series GS-861
Naval Architecture Series GS-871
Mining Engineering Series GS-880
Petroleum Engineering Series GS-881
Agricultural Engineering Series GS-890
Ceramic Engineering Series GS-892
Chemical Engineering Series GS-893
Welding Engineering Series GS-894
Industrial Engineering Series GS-896

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