Eligibility

Being a federal employee doesn't mean you're eligible for every federal job, so it's important to understand:

  • Which service you belong to.
  • The appointment type you are serving on.

Understanding this will help you know which jobs you’re eligible for and prevent you from spending time on jobs for which you’re not eligible.

Being eligible for a job is different from being qualified for a job. Understand the difference.

Services

Services are how the federal government describes categories of jobs that provide different options and benefits to the future employee. There are three services in the federal government.

Competitive service
Positions with agencies that follow the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's hiring rules and pay scales.
Eligible to apply for merit promotion jobs?

YES

Excepted service
Positions with agencies that have their own hiring rules, pay scales and evaluation criteria.
Eligible to apply for merit promotion jobs?

NO, unless your agency has an Interchange Agreement. But you can apply to jobs that are open to the public and federal employees—excepted service.

Senior Executive Service
Managerial, supervisory and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) grade 15 or equivalent positions in most Executive Branch agencies.
Eligible to apply for merit promotion jobs?

NO, but you can apply to jobs that are open to the public or other jobs in the Senior Executive Service.

Competitive vs. Excepted service

See how they compare

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Competitive service

Merit promotion

Merit promotion lets a current or former federal employee apply for a job without having to compete with general public or people with Veterans' Preference. Instead, you compete with other competitive service employees.

How do I know if it's a merit promotion job?

In the job announcement look for the This job is open to section. When it's a merit promotion job, you’ll see the Federal employee—competitive service icon Hot News 😵😡🤣 USAJOBS Help Center | Federal employees There may be other groups listed that can also apply.

You can also select the Federal employees—competitive service filter in search.

Does Veterans' Preference apply to merit promotion jobs?

Veterans who are VEOA eligible may apply for these jobs, but Veterans' Preference does not apply to merit promotion jobs. If you're a veteran, learn more about your hiring options.

Internal to an agency

Some federal jobs are only available to current employees of a specific agency. Internal to an agency jobs can be in all three services.

How do I know if a job is open internally?

In the job announcement look for the This job is open to section. When the job is open to current employees of the agency, you’ll see the internal icon Hot News 😵😡🤣 USAJOBS Help Center | Federal employees

You can also select the Internal to an agency filter in search. Your results will display all jobs open to current employees of the hiring agency.

Learn more about the internal to an agency hiring path.

Transfer

If you're in the competitive service, you may be eligible to move to another position in the competitive service. Learn more.

Former employees

Former federal employees previously in the competitive service may be eligible for:

  • Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL)

    If your job, agency or department was eliminated, you may be eligible to receive selection priority over other applicants. Learn more.

  • Reinstatement

    If you were in the competitive service, you may be eligible to return to the federal government under the reinstatement program. Learn more.

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Excepted service

How do I know a job is open to excepted service employees?

In the job announcement look for the This job is open to section and you’ll see the Federal employee—excepted service icon Hot News 😵😡🤣 USAJOBS Help Center | Federal employees There may be other groups listed that can also apply.

You can also select the Federal employees—excepted service filter in search. Your results will display all jobs open to federal employees in the excepted service.

Interchange Agreement

If you're in the excepted service and your agency has an Interchange Agreement, you may be eligible to move to another job in the competitive service. Learn more.

Additional opportunities

Land Management

If you’re a current or former term or temporary employee of a land management agency, you may be eligible to apply for merit promotion jobs at any agency. Learn more.

Base Management

If you’re a current or former term or temporary employee of a base facilities management agency, you may be eligible to apply for merit promotion jobs at any agency. Learn more.

Documents you may need

Upload and submit through USAJOBS

You can upload and save documents to your USAJOBS account. Once uploaded, you can submit these forms with your job application as needed. Sign into USAJOBS or learn how to upload documents.

Additional resources