Career Opportunities at NSF
NSF offers excellent job opportunities in a variety of office support,
administrative, professional and scientific fields. Some positions involve
working in program offices with scientists, engineers and educators,
while others are in offices concerned with management support, e.g.,
human resources, computer operations, budget and finance and other
administrative services. Our work is challenging and it provides many
opportunities for growth and advancement.
Following is a brief Overview of some of the entry-level career
opportunities at the National Science Foundation.
Office Support Position
Office Automation Clerk, GS-2/3/4. Employees perform a variety
of general office duties, e.g., perform word-processing and computer data
entry; sort and distribute mail; screen telephone callers and visitors;
and maintain office records and files.
Program Clerk (Office Automation), GS-2/3/4. Employees maintain
computerized data files; assemble material for mailing; perform word
processing; assist telephone callers and office visitors; prepare travel documents;
and assist in the processing of grant proposals.
Program Assistant (Office Automation), GS-5/6. Employees assist
program managers by personally handling the technician work associated
with a research grant program. Employees process grant awards, declinations
and withdrawals, e.g., review, verify, monitor and track proposal
activities; examine budgets for adjustments; prepare grant packages; coordinate panel
meetings; maintain grant files; generate computerized reports; perform
data entry; assist callers; prepare travel documents; and prepare
Secretary (Office Automation), GS-4/5/6. Employees serve as
personal assistants and perform a variety of general office work, e.g.,
maintain the supervisor's calendar; review and control incoming and outgoing
correspondence; establish and maintain office files; greet and screen
callers and visitors; coordinate meetings and make travel arrangements; draft and
type a variety of correspondence; and perform liaison functions.
The following table shows the minimum eligibility requirements for office
support positions at grades GS-2 to GS-6.
graduation or equivalent|
1 year above high school|
2 years above high school|
4 years above high school|
Generally, not applicable|
General experience is progressively responsible clerical, office,
or other work that indicates ability to acquire the knowledge and skills
needed to perform the duties of the position.
Specialized experience is experience in or related to the position
that equipped you with the knowledge and skills to successfully perform
the duties of the position. Specialized experience must have been equivalent
to the next lower grade level. Equivalent combinations of post-high school
education and experience may be used to meet total requirements at grades
GS-5 and below. The civil service written test is generally required for
appointments at grades GS-4 and below. Call our personnel office,
703-306-1182, for testing locations. All applicants must be able to type at least 40 words
per minute, based on a 5-minute sample, with no more than 3 errors.
Office support positions usually have promotion potential to grade GS-6.
Other opportunities at GS-7 and above (e.g., Senior Program Assistant,
Personnel Assistant, Computer Assistant, etc.) are periodically available and are
normally filled by internal competition.
Administrative and Professional Positions
Administration and Management. NSF policies, practices, and programs
are constantly being refined to meet new challenges. Work involves developing,
analyzing, evaluating, advising on and improving the effectiveness of work
methods, procedures and programs.
- Typical jobs: Management and Program Analyst, Program Specialist,
Support Services Specialist
Accounting and Finance. Fiscal responsibility and accountability
are extremely important in NSF programs. Working for NSF, you may have
the opportunity to develop and improve accounting systems, develop
budgets, collect and disburse funds, examine and audit expenditures.
- Typical jobs: Budget Analyst, Accountant, Auditor
Business and Contract Administration. NSF conducts much of its business
through the award of grants, contracts and interagency agreements. You may
help to manage this activity, or work in negotiating contracts and
agreements for a wide variety of goods and services.
- Typical jobs: Grant and Agreement Specialist, Contract Specialist
Management Information Systems. As one of the leading agencies in
technology advancement, NSF accomplishes much of its work processes by
using computers. You may perform a variety of analysis, design,
programming, troubleshooting, maintenance and report generating tasks.
- Typical jobs: Computer Specialist, LAN Manager
Personnel Management. Employees in this field provide NSF's
scientific, administrative, clerical and technical staff with a wide
variety of services relating to recruitment, placement, position
classification, position management, employee development and employee
- Typical jobs: Personnel Staffing and Classification Specialist,
Employee Relations Specialist, Employee Development Specialist.
Public Affairs/Legislative Affairs. NSF has an ongoing responsibility
to communicate its mission and accomplishments to the public. The format
of this communication can be written or visual -- portable exhibits,
brochures, films, videos or other publications.
- Typical jobs: Public Affairs Specialist, Writer-Editor,
Science, Mathematics and Engineering. As the premier Federal agency
responsible for the well-being of the basic sciences, NSF each year
distributes nearly three billion dollars in grants to fund research and
education in science and engineering. You may provide scientific
assistance to the Program Officers in all phases of the proposal review
process. A bachelor's degree, or higher, in a scientific, mathematics
or engineering field is required.
- Typical jobs: Science Education Assistant, Science Assistant,
Assistant Program Manager, Science Policy Analyst
The table below shows the total minimum eligibility requirements for
administrative and professional positions at grades GS-5 to GS-9.
Education or Experience*|
GS-5, or equivalent
Bachelor's degree OR equivalent combination of education and directly related experience.|
GS-7, or equivalent
Bachelor's degree, plus 1 year of directly related experience OR one
year of graduate-level education OR bachelor's degree with superior
academic achievement OR one year of directly related experience
equivalent to at least GS-5.|
GS-9, or equivalent
Two full years of graduate education OR master's degree or equivalent
graduate degree OR one year of directly related experience equivalent to
at least GS-7.|
Some positions may require specific amounts of course-work in certain
fields for eligibility. Entry level positions are filled at the GS-5, GS-7
or GS-9 grade level (or equivalent) and usually have career ladder promotion
potential to GS-11 or GS-12 (or equivalent).
How to Apply
While some positions are limited to applicants with civil service status,
most positions are open to only qualified citizens and nationals of the
United States. Citizens of countries with a mutual security alliance with
the United States and proper work documents may apply for consideration
for science, mathematics and engineering positions. Positions are advertised
when they become available. To apply, applicants must submit the
- Resume or Optional Application for Federal Employment (OF 612), or
any other application format;
- College transcript (if substituting college education for experience);
- Other documentation required by the vacancy announcement.
Application packages may be mailed or hand delivered to:
National Science Foundation
Division of Human Resource Management
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 315
Arlington, VA 22230
For additional information concerning employment opportunities or the
application procedures, you may call our Vacancy Hotline, 703-306-0080.
If you are outside the Arlington, VA calling area, you may call our toll
free number, 1-800-628-1487. Hearing impaired individuals may call
You may also visit the NSF Home Page on World Wide Web at: https://www.nsf.gov/oirm/
Salaries are based on the Federal Government's
General Schedule pay scales, which include a locality pay rate for the
Washington, DC area. The grade level at which you qualify depends on the specific position
and your qualifications. As you advance in responsibility, your pay will
reflect your additional contributions. Hiring and advancement in the
are based on qualifications and performance regardless of race, color, creed,
religion, sex, age, national origin or disability.