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Basic Requirements for all grades, GS-5 and above

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.

Click here for information on alternate methods of qualifying without a professional degree in engineering.


Additional Experience and Education Requirements For GS-7 and Above

In addition to meeting the basic entry qualification requirements, applicants must have specialized experience and/or directly related education in the amounts shown in the table below:





Specialized Experience



1 year of graduate-level education in an accredited college or university or superior academic achievement

1 year equivalent to at least GS-5


2 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or master's or equivalent graduate degree

1 year equivalent to at least GS-7


3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree

1 year equivalent to at least GS-9

GS-12 and above


1 year equivalent to at least next lower grade level

NOTE: Education and experience may be combined for all grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable.


Graduate Education: Completion of graduate level education in the amounts shown in the table, in addition to meeting the basic requirements, is qualifying for positions at grades GS-7 through GS-11 if it provided 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 number cannot be obtained from the school, 18 semester hours should be considered an academic year of graduate study. Part-time graduate education is creditable in accordance with its relationship to a year of full-time study at the school attended.

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.

Examples of Specialized Experience may include:

For GS-7: As a trainee engineer, performing a variety of duties that provide the opportunity to apply nuclear engineering skills previously acquired through the study of academic theories of engineering and an orientation to agency policies and procedures. Some assignments are similar to those assigned to nonprofessional employees but are performed primarily for training purposes and in some instances, to relieve higher grade engineers of routine work. Receiving formal and on-the-job instruction and training designed to provide familiarization with work site environments, reactor plant systems, radiological control procedures, plant operations, safety requirements, increase familiarity of reactor theory, and the administrative requirements for systems operational test programs.

For GS-9: Performing a variety of nuclear engineering assignments which are specified portions or minor phases of large assignments dealing with the technical direction of shipyard nuclear work in activities such as plans, schedules, inspection, fabrication, ship construction, overhaul, reactor refueling, or reactor plant testing. Assignments typically are screened to eliminate difficult or unusual problems and generally consist of routine and uncomplicated task assignments, or small portions of projects that require consideration of the effects of the nuclear environment on conventional equipment, components and systems.

For GS-11: Performing assignments in the preparation for and accomplishment of reactor plant testing such as determining system isolation requirements by researching plans and operating manuals, inspecting completed installations of test equipment, and performing system lineup checks. The engineer personally observes conditions remote from the test control station and has authority to make "on-the-spot" corrections of minor and routine problems. The engineer performs portions of large complex projects under the direction of a higher grade engineer. Work assignments require the application of nuclear engineering theory and knowledge, and may include reviewing documents and specifications that are used to accomplish scheduled plant operations or testing; inspecting completed installation of test equipment to assure the equipment will safely perform the intended function; researching plans and operating manuals, and determining system isolation requirements for accomplishing work on reactor plant components.

For GS-12: Serving as a nuclear engineer on the staff of a departmental headquarters component charged with responsibility for fusion systems engineering, environment and safety, and fusion energy applications. Assignments include such things as: (1) systems studies to assess technological requirements and timing for overall fusion power activities; (2) reviews of conceptual designs of near-term major fusion devices; (3) demonstrations of subsystem technologies through experiments and prototype tests performed by contractor engineers: (4) identification and evaluation of potential fusion reactor hazards; (5) reviews of appropriate safety technology and design criteria developed by vendor or contractor engineers; (6) evaluations of non-electric applications of fusion energy such as fissile or synthetic fuel production.

For GS-13: Serving as a nuclear engineer on the staff of a departmental field office that coordinates and monitors activities of a large national laboratory operated by a private contractor. Typical assignments are in one or more of the following areas: (1) performing analytical analysis of departmental operations involved in the production of source and special nuclear materials; (2) analyzing various isotope separation technologies for enriching uranium; (3) conducting studies of processing stages in order to determine requirements for enriched uranium; (4) reviewing production plans for supplying enriching services; (5) monitoring and coordinating the interrelationship of the isotope separations plant with other production facilities, operations, and activities.

For GS-14: Serving as a nuclear engineer with project management responsibility for the nuclear engineering department of an organization performing nuclear engineering work. The engineer has full technical and management responsibility for assigned project work in connection with refueling, alteration, repair, maintenance, and testing of specific nuclear reactor plants. The duties of the nuclear project engineer include extensive coordination across organizational lines within the nuclear engineering department and with the production controllers and various contractor representatives. The engineer coordinates the nuclear engineering department work package development that requires the integration of many different work phases in the overhaul, testing, maintenance, modification, and refueling of nuclear reactor plants. The engineer also (1) resolves conflicts occurring during development of the work package, such as those caused by overlapping functions; (2) provides advice and recommendations for design changes; and (3) ensures strict adherence to schedules.

For GS-15: Serving as one of several technical advisors and experts on the staff of a large department. The department has specific responsibility for managing the development and testing of major nuclear reactor and reactor plant components, including the resolution of complex problems of critical importance that have extensive impact on the success of national nuclear options. Coordinates these programs with managers and other engineers and scientists as to the performance, reliability, safety, and cost effectiveness of nuclear reactors for future nationwide energy requirements. May be involved in planning, developing, evaluating, and directly participating in the management of nuclear component development programs including those for liquid metal heat exchangers and steam generators, reactor core support and restraint, radioactive gas seals, and fuel handling equipment. The assigned work encompasses a broad area of effort that typically lacks engineering precedents. Serves as a recognized expert and advisor in the design and development of nuclear reactor components. Defines the nature and scope of technical management requirements governing assigned nuclear component development programs, including the determination of program goals, the review of progress, the assessment of results, recommendations for additions, deletions or termination of programs, and the initiation of new programs as the need arises. Provides independent leadership, guidance, and advice to other segments of the department in connection with the performance and reliability of reactor plant components and their integration into nuclear plant systems.

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Page Last Updated: 7/13/2015 9:30 PM