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Secretary, GS-318

Experience and Education Requirements

The following table shows the amounts of education and/or experience required to qualify for secretary positions:












6 months


1 year above high school


1 year


2 years above high school



1 year equivalent to at least GS-4

4 years above high school

GS-6 and above


1 year equivalent to at least next lower grade level

Generally, not applicable

Equivalent combinations of education and experience are qualifying for all grade levels and positions for which both education and experience are acceptable. Proficiency requirements are described below.



General Experience: Progressively responsible clerical, office, or other work that indicates ability to acquire the particular knowledge and skills needed to perform the duties of the position to be filled.

Specialized Experience: Experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA's) to perform successfully the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the position to be filled. To be creditable, specialized experience must have been equivalent to at least the next lower grade level. 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. (See below for examples of specialized experience.)

Education: Successfully completed education above the high school level in any field for which high school graduation or the equivalent is the normal prerequisite is creditable at grades GS-3 through GS-5. This education must have been obtained in an accredited business, secretarial or technical school, junior college, college or university. One year of full-time academic study is defined as 30 semester hours, 45 quarter hours, or the equivalent in a college or university, or at least 20 hours of classroom instruction per week for approximately 36 weeks in a business, secretarial, or technical school.

As a general rule, education is not creditable above GS-5 for most positions covered by this standard; however, graduate education may be credited in those few instances where the graduate education is directly related to the work of the position.

Intensive Short-Term Training: Completion of an intensive, specialized course of study of less than 1 year may meet in full the experience requirements for GS-3. Courses of this type normally require completion of up to 40 hours per week of instruction rather than the usual 20 hours per week, and are usually of at least 3 months duration. Such courses may have been obtained through a variety of programs such as those offered by business or technical schools, and through military training programs. To be creditable, such a course must have been designed specifically as career preparation for the work of the position being filled, and must have provided the applicant with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to do the work.

Proficiency Requirements

Office Automation Clerk/Assistant and Positions with Parenthetical Titles of (Typing), (Office Automation), or (Stenography): In addition to meeting experience or education requirements, applicants for these positions must show possession of the following skills, as appropriate:

  • Office Automation Clerk/ Assistant (any grade); (Typing) (any grade); and (Office Automation) (any grade): 40 words per minute typing speed
  • Positions with Parenthetical Titles of (Stenography) (any grade): 40 words per minute typing speed and either
  • 80 words per minute dictation speed for GS-3 and GS-4 stenographic duties, OR
  • 120 words per minute dictation speed for GS-5 stenographic duties

Examples of Specialized Experience:

For GS-5: Works in an organization of limited organizational complexity; supervisor directs the staff primarily through face-to-face meetings; internal procedures and administrative controls are simple and informal. The supervisor provides assignments, generally indicating what is to be done, quantity expected, deadlines, and priorities. Additional instructions are provided for new, difficult, or unusual assignments.

For GS-6: Works in an organization with limited complexity where internal procedures are simple and informal, and the supervisor usually coordinates the work through face-to-face discussions with the staff. Work assignments are issued in terms of general instructions and desired results, which the secretary plans and carries out duties independently. The supervisor gives a spot check review of completed work to ensure compliance with established policies and procedures.

For GS-7: Works in a complex organization with a formalized system of internal procedures including extensive reporting requirements. Coordination of the subordinate units and projects is difficult to maintain. Sample tasks may include receiving all visitors and telephone calls to the organization, ascertaining the nature of call or business of visitors and determining appropriate action; keeping the supervisor’s calendar and scheduling appointments and meetings upon own initiative based upon personal knowledge of the workload and current issues of importance; responding to requests for information concerning organization’s functions; preparing responses on schedule from source material; arranging for conferences, including such matters as location, schedule, agenda, and attendance list; maintaining control records on incoming correspondence and action documents and following up on work in process to insure timely reply or action; and reviewing documents prepared for signature of or requiring coordination by the supervisor for conformance with regulations, grammar, format, and special policies of the organization

For GS-8: Works in a complex organization with subordinate organizational entities, requiring the establishment and maintenance of extensive internal procedures and reporting systems. Sample tasks may include: screening calls and visitors to the office, referring to staff members and forwarding to the supervisor only those calls or visitors requiring that person’s attention; scheduling appointments and making commitments for the supervisor to attend meetings, luncheons, etc., without prior approval; reading all incoming correspondence, determining proper action, at times preparing answers before referring to the supervisor; reviewing outgoing correspondence and reports prepared by professional employees in the organization, ensuring proper format, mathematical correctness, correct grammatical content, and ascertaining that all necessary coordination of facts has been completed and is in accordance with established policy; responsible for budget accounts allotted to the office; explaining non-technical policies and procedures promulgated by the office after obtaining clarification from source; making recommendations and decisions in establishing priorities among actions on administrative matters requested by various employees or organizations; taking and distributes minutes of meetings; instructing and assists other secretaries on procedural matters such as the correct procedures to follow in preparing correspondence; and preparing correspondence for the supervisor’s signature.

For GS-9: Working in a large organization subdivided into several subordinate levels, where formal policies, procedures, and reporting requirements are necessary. Work is done under general supervision where the supervisor sets the overall objectives of the work, and from time-to-time, gives specific assignments with a brief explanation of the assignment's purpose. The incumbent personally sets the deadlines for most of the work to be done. The incumbent performs the duties of the job independently, referring only the most complex problems to the supervisor. Many situations and conflicts arise which require the secretary to determine the approach to resolve them. The work is reviewed to ensure that the overall objectives of the position are met. Sample tasks may include: receiving all visitors and telephone calls to the office, determining the nature of call or business of visitors; decided to whom visitors are referred; making appointments for the supervisor, establishing priorities, setting up, rescheduling, or refusing appointments, accepting or declining invitations to meetings, and arranging for representation by a subordinate official when that is desirable; serving as buffer and acting as liaison between the supervisor and staff personnel by providing accurate, timely advice on procedures, reports, requirements, and other matters necessary to implement the supervisor’s policies, directives, and instructions; in the absence of the supervisor, assuming responsibility for ensuring that requests for action or information, which would normally receive the supervisor's attention, are made known to staff personnel who can satisfy the request; reading incoming publications, regulations, and directives that may be important to the activities of the staff and referring those of importance or interest to the staff; composing correspondence on own initiative, based on a knowledge of supervisor’s views and desires.

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