USDA Forest Service Employment Information
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What we do, where we do it, where we came from

Descriptions of the kinds of jobs we have

Salary and Benefits

How to see a vacancy announcement, how to get an application, where to submit an application

Frequently-asked questions about getting a job with the Forest Service

Special hiring emphasis Nov 2000-March 2001:  Fire Fighting and Fire-related jobs


In addition to the satisfaction of working in a specific career field with many promotional opportunities, the Forest Service offers many benefits. Most Forest Service employees (permanent and other appointments) are paid based on the General Schedule (GS).  Let's discuss entry-level GS salaries and typical early career patterns. 
Professional and administrative employees in the Forest Service (and most Federal agencies) usually are hired as grade 5, move to 7 in one year and then to 9 in one more year. It then may take years for further promotions. The next advance would be to grade 11 and then each promotion is a single grade, e.g. 12, 13, 14, etc. Technician, clerical and other employees usually are hired about grade 4, but many exceptions (up and down) occur. Promotions occur in single-grade jumps, e.g. 4 to 5 to 6, etc. Most of these jobs top out at around grade 7, but some of these employees eventually qualify for administrative positions which have higher grade potential.

Pay differs by locality, but for 2000 generally a grade 4 employee starts at around 9.77 dollars per hour (a little over $20,000 annually) and grade 5 around $10.93 dollars per hour (about $22,819 annually).  A grade 7 (step 1) makes about $13.54 per hour and a grade 9 (step 1) around $16.57 per hour. See the Job Descriptions Section for explanation of "steps".  The person's step is important.  A grade 11 (step 1) employee makes about $20.05 per hour, a grade 11 (step 5) makes about $22.72 per hour, and grade 11 (step 10) makes about $26.06 per hour.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management publishes on internet most federal salary tables.  Remember to select the table for your locality.  If your locality is not mentioned, there is a table for the "Rest of the U.S."

Federal employment with the Forest Service typically offers additional benefits, but many non-permanent positions do not qualify for all the benefits. If you are applying for a non-permanent position, check out which benefits apply. Generally all permanent and term positions qualify for all the benefits below:

  • Flexible work schedules. Many work locations offer flexible work schedules where employees have a choice of an 8 or 9~hr workday with starting times to fit the employee's needs.
  • Health and life insurance. If an employee enrolls, the costs are shared by the employee and the Forest Service.
  • Retirement Plan. The retirement plan includes a Federal retirement fund, social security, and a tax~deferred savings plan.
  • Annual leave. Federal employees earn 13 days of annual leave each year for their first 3 years of federal service, 20 days per year after 3 years of service, and 26 days per year after 15 years of service.
  • Sick leave. Federal employees earn 13 days of sick leave per year.
  • Paid moving expenses. Moving costs associated with relocation for the first Forest Service assignment are usually borne by the employee. Subsequent moves are paid by the Forest Service.
  • Training. Training is one of the most important benefits available to Forest Service employees. In addition to on~the~job training, many opportunities are available to develop skills and enhance career growth.
  • Employee counseling. The Forest Service has active wellness and counseling programs as needed.