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Education and Experience Requirements

The following table shows the amounts of education and/or experience required to qualify for Human Resources Specialist positions. Click here for information on how experience and education may be combined.



Education xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx OR Experience








4-year course of study leading to a bachelor's degree in an accredited college or university

3 years, 1 year of which was equivalent to at least GS-4



1 full year of graduate level education or superior academic achievement


1 year equivalent to at least GS-5


Master's or equivalent graduate degree or 2 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree or LL.B. or J.D., if related


1 year equivalent to at least GS-7


Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree Or 3 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree Or LL.M., if related


1 year equivalent to at least GS-9

GS-12 and above



1 year equivalent to at least next lower grade level

Equivalent combinations of education and experience are qualifying for all grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable.



Undergraduate Education: One year of full-time undergraduate study is defined as 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours in an accredited college or university.

Graduate Education: Education at the graduate level in an accredited college or university in the amounts shown in the table meets the requirements for positions at GS-7 through GS-11. Such education must demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do the work.

One year of full-time graduate education is considered to be the number of credit hours that the school attended has determined to represent 1 year of full-time study. If that information cannot be obtained from the school, 18 semester hours should be considered as satisfying the 1-year of full-time study requirement.

General Experience: general experience is 3 years of progressively responsible experience, 1 year of which was equivalent to at least GS-4, that demonstrates the ability to:

  • Analyze problems to identify significant factors, gather pertinent data, and recognize solutions;
  • Plan and organize work; and
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Such experience may have been gained in administrative, professional, technical, investigative, or other responsible work. Experience in substantive and relevant secretarial, clerical, or other responsible work may be qualifying as long as it provided evidence of the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) necessary to perform the duties of the position to be filled. Experience of a general clerical nature (typing, filing, routine procedural processing, maintaining records, or other non-specialized tasks) is not creditable. Trades or crafts experience appropriate to the position to be filled may be creditable for some positions.

Specialized Experience: Experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled. To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level in the normal line of progression for the occupation in the organization. Applicants who have the 1 year of appropriate specialized experience, as indicated in the table, are not required by this standard to have general experience, education above the high school level, or any additional specialized experience to meet the minimum qualification requirements.

Examples of Specialized Experience:

For GS-7: Working as a trainee, receiving formal classroom instruction and/or on-the-job training in the principles, concepts, work processes, regulations, and reference material fundamental to one or a combination of specialized personnel fields, plus on-the-job training assignments that provide a practical understanding of the organization, programs, policies, and objectives of the employing agency as well as furnish experience in the application of principles, procedures, and work techniques to actual operating situations.

For GS-9: Working as an advanced trainee, with work assignments selected to provide training in the analytic and judgmental aspects of the work and in the appropriate use of such methods and techniques as job analysis and interviewing; working under close supervision, applying a gradually increasing knowledge of and skill in the use of pertinent principles and techniques in securing, analyzing, and evaluating the essential facts needed for decision; providing information as to the typical duty patterns which will justify a particular grade, the kinds of candidates available for a particular type of job, and similar matters.

For GS-11: Working as a position-classifier assigned to provide continuing classification service to a group of organizational segments with positions that are relatively stable, and mostly covered by classification standards, including routine maintenance reviews; providing continuing service to a group of organizational segments with jobs that are not difficult to fill, assisting supervisors in conducting screening interviews with applicants, making telephone reference checks, and referring the best applicants to operating supervisors for final selection; drafting promotion plans, including methods for ranking employees, based on rating procedures suggested by other approved plans; providing management advisory service functions related to a specific function of human resources.

For GS-12: Working as a position-classifier, assigned to provide continuing service to a group of organizational segments performing research and development, contract negotiations and administration, and such administrative services as budget, accounting, statistical services, and management analysis, where the jobs require a thorough understanding or appreciation of the responsibilities and mental processes involved in the work in order to understand and apply classification standards properly; where the organizational structure of the segments served is complex, making it frequently difficult to know how much and what kind of responsibility to credit to a position; working as a placement officer assigned to provide continuing service to a group of organizational segments performing high-level administrative and/or professional work with highly specialized one-of-a-kind jobs requiring specialized recruiting, internal placement actions to retain and fully utilize employee skills, and the operation of a merit promotion program for filling higher-level jobs with very specialized requirements; providing management advisory service functions requiring a high level of technical skill in the specialized personnel field, broad personnel management knowledge, and such personal qualities as persuasiveness, imagination, and insight, and the need to "sell" oneself to all levels of supervisors and management staff specialists, in order to gain confidence and acceptance of advice.

For GS-13: Providing high-level management advisory service functions combined with assignments of more than average difficulty because the jobs and organizations are complex, new, or dynamic in nature; responsibility for resolving especially complex and difficult types of problem cases in a specialized personnel field; resolving problems that are complex from a technical standpoint because of the existence of different guides that point towards conflicting decisions or because of the lack of anything but the most general kind of guides, such as precedent decisions or standards which deal with quite different kinds of situations; dealing with key management officials on controversial problems in such a manner as to inspire respect for and confidence in the final decision.

For GS-14: Having full technical responsibility for projects or studies of occupations or personnel policies, programs, and practices of a complex or difficult nature and of considerable scope. The complexity and difficulty of projects arise from a variety of considerations, e.g., the problem to be solved is one for which experience, data, and guidelines are very limited or point in conflicting directions; or the problem solution is of special urgency or likely to be particularly controversial. The scope and impact of such projects are typically very broad, i.e., either Government-wide in effect or of considerable significance to the management of a major Government department. An example may include planning and carrying out a study of a major problem area in personnel management with a view towards the development of significant improvements in policy, procedure, or techniques; developing a project plan, gathering factual data, working closely with interested persons developing and exploring alternative solutions, and preparing reports recommending action to be taken, including all necessary staff work to implement the recommendation, if approved.

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Page Last Updated: 7/13/2015 9:29 PM