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There are a number of US government jobs that are in essentially academic research labs that are unaffiliated with a university (e.g., the NIH and the national laboratories). The salary for some of these jobs are based on the General Schedule (GS) salary scale. Is it possible to roughly map a GS grade to an academic rank? For example, GS-11 requires a Masters degree and GS-12 requires a PhD so presumably step one as a GS-12 would be a new post-doc, but how do GS-13, GS-14, and GS-15 fit into the mix? Is it fair to say a GS-13 is like an assistant professor, GS-14 is like an associate, and GS-15 is like a full professor?

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  • Well, there's no tenure, so I wouldn't draw too strong a comparison. Also, a GS-15 has a capped maximum salary, which doesn't necessarily happen on the professorial scale.
    – Bill Barth
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:23
  • @BillBarth there may be no tenure, but the positions are pretty secure.
    – StrongBad
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:29
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    What's the purpose of making this mapping?
    – Bill Barth
    Jan 29, 2015 at 14:09
  • I seem to remember this coming up at some point. There are actually rigid definitions for GS levels. IIRC GS-13+ are senior leader positions, 10-12 are high-level positions, and the rest are defined mostly by experience required to perform the task.
    – Compass
    Jan 29, 2015 at 14:18
  • @BillBarth for negotiating a starting grade and step :)
    – StrongBad
    Jan 29, 2015 at 15:04

1 Answer 1

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I knew I had read up on this before. Don't remember for what, but it was definitely for Academia.

From the U.S. Code § 5104 - Basis for grading positions

I would say that GS-15 would be like department head, GS-14 would be tenured, GS-13 would be non-tenured, GS-12 associate, and GS-9 through -11 to be some varying group of PhDs and grad students.

GS-13

(A) to perform, under administrative direction, with wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment, work of unusual difficulty and responsibility along special technical, supervisory, or administrative lines, requiring extended specialized, supervisory, or administrative training and experience which has demonstrated leadership and marked attainments;

(B) to serve as assistant head of a major organization involving work of comparable level within a bureau;

(C) to perform, under administrative direction, with wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment, work of unusual difficulty and responsibility requiring extended professional, scientific, or technical training and experience which has demonstrated leadership and marked attainments in professional, scientific, or technical research, practice, or administration; or

(D) to perform other work of equal importance, difficulty, and responsibility, and requiring comparable qualifications.

GS-14

(A) to perform, under general administrative direction, with wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment, work of exceptional difficulty and responsibility along special technical, supervisory, or administrative lines which has demonstrated leadership and unusual attainments;

(B) to serve as head of a major organization within a bureau involving work of comparable level;

(C) to plan and direct or to plan and execute major professional, scientific, technical, administrative, fiscal, or other specialized programs, requiring extended training and experience which has demonstrated leadership and unusual attainments in professional, scientific, or technical research, practice, or administration, or in administrative, fiscal, or other specialized activities; or

(D) to perform consulting or other professional, scientific, technical, administrative, fiscal, or other specialized work of equal importance, difficulty, and responsibility, and requiring comparable qualifications.

GS-15

(A) to perform, under general administrative direction, with very wide latitude for the exercise of independent judgment, work of outstanding difficulty and responsibility along special technical, supervisory, or administrative lines which has demonstrated leadership and exceptional attainments;

(B) to serve as head of a major organization within a bureau involving work of comparable level;

(C) to plan and direct or to plan and execute specialized programs of marked difficulty, responsibility, and national significance, along professional, scientific, technical, administrative, fiscal, or other lines, requiring extended training and experience which has demonstrated leadership and unusual attainments in professional, scientific, or technical research, practice, or administration, or in administrative, fiscal, or other specialized activities; or (D) to perform consulting or other professional, scientific, technical, administrative, fiscal, or other specialized work of equal importance, difficulty, and responsibility, and requiring comparable qualifications.

They're all slightly different, heading from supervisor role to department/division lead role.

This one provides a bit more granularity between each group..

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