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DOE Jobs Online logo Physical Scientist, GS-1301

Basic Requirements for all grades, GS-5 and above

Degree: physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics, from an accredited college or university.


Combination of education and experience: education equivalent to one of the majors shown above that included at least 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science from an accredited college or university, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

The quality of the combination of education and experience must be sufficient to demonstrate that the applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform work in the occupation, and is comparable to that normally acquired through the successful completion of a full 4-year course of study with a major in the appropriate field. In addition to courses in the major and related fields, a typical college degree would have included courses that involved analysis, writing, critical thinking, research, etc. These courses would have provided an applicant with skills and abilities sufficient to perform progressively more responsible work in the occupation. Therefore, creditable experience should have demonstrated similarly appropriate skills or abilities needed to perform the work of the occupation.

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 from 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 from an accredited college or university


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 an accredited college or university 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:

For GS-7: Taking measurements and collecting information; learning to take proper samples; conducting routine calculating, plotting, and checking of numerical data; preparing graphs and data profiles; and accomplishing routine analyses. This work experience would have involved receiving clear, specific, and detailed instructions as to the methods, procedures, and guidelines to use.

For GS-9: Performing a variety of observations, computations, compilations and analyses in assisting higher-level scientists in carrying out physical science assignments. This work experience would have involved following established methods and procedures, or detailed instructions; using some judgment in applying basic principles and procedures; and independently completing recurring assignments, but referring deviations, problems, and unfamiliar situations to a designated person for decision or help.

For GS-11: Independent responsibility for a well-defined study or for a phase of a larger study that required the planning and carrying out of routine physical science work. This work would have required the individual to select and make minor adaptations to procedures and accepted practices and handle unexpected conditions arising in the normal course of the work. At this level, physical scientists have the ability to independently perform moderately difficult and responsible scientific work.

For GS-12: Planning and executing complex physical science studies, which usually involved intensive investigations into recognized phenomena. This work typically involved conventional methods and techniques though it required going beyond clear precedents, and required adapting methods to the problems at hand and interpreting findings in terms of their scientific significance. At this level, physical scientists have the ability to independently perform scientific work of considerable difficulty.

For GS-13: Planning, executing and reporting on original physical science studies or ongoing physical science studies requiring a fresh approach to resolve new problems. The complexity of this work typically required extensive modification and adaptation of standard procedures, methods, and techniques, and the development of totally new methods and techniques to address novel or obscure problems for which guidelines or precedents were not substantially applicable. At this level, physical scientists have wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment to perform scientific work of marked difficulty and responsibility.

For GS-14: Serving as a senior expert involved in physical science work for which technical problem definitions, methods and/or data were highly incomplete, controversial, or uncertain and whose evaluations and recommendations were accepted by others as those of a technical expert in the physical sciences. At this level, physical scientists typically represent an authoritative source of consultation for other scientists and program specialists, are called upon to resolve issues that significantly affect physical science programs, make long range and controversial proposals and defend their findings and recommendations in public or high level forums.

For GS-15: Investigating highly unstructured problems involving both difficult technology and complex human relations or programmatic issues. The results of these investigations had significant effects over a wide region of the United States, or may have included responsibility for new technology especially critical to the organization's programs. This work involved other recognized senior technical experts asking the scientist for advice or counsel due to his/her personal reputation in the field.

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Page Last Updated: 7/14/2015 6:54 AM