Federal Government Jobs

Helping job hunters find, apply for, and land government jobs

Social Science, Psychology, & Welfare Jobs


This group includes all classes of positions, the duties of which are to advise on, administer, supervise, or perform research or other professional and scientific work, subordinate technical or related clerical work in one or more of the social sciences; in psychology; in social work; in recreational activities; or in the administration of public welfare and insurance programs.

The occupations in this group range from economists, social services, intelligence, history and archeology to civil rights analysis, foreign affairs and manpower research. A broad spectrum of jobs that are available throughout the Executive Branch.

There were 98,092 federal workers employed in this group in 2014 of which 2,885 are employed overseas or in the U.S. Territories. This group works within most Executive Branch departments and several large independent agencies including NASA and Social Security. All of the 26,944 social insurance administration (GS-0105) workers are employed by the Social Security Administration, an independent federal agency. The Department of Justice employs over 7,515 of which 2,905 are employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Health and Human Services employs 2,283 mostly to administer their Medicare and Medicare services.  The U.S. Marshal Service employs 38 from this group.

Don’t overlook any agency in your job search as there are small numbers employed in this group spread throughout most of the Executive Departments and independent agencies.  For example Home Land Security employs 1,674 intelligence specialists (GS-0132) while 5 are employed from this group by the Federal Maritime Commission.

The following information is compiled from numerous federal documents including qualification standards, job announcements, career articles, occupation flysheets, FEDSCOPE, OPM, Agency websites, interviews with federal employees, The United States Government Manual, and from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.


GS-0100 — Social Science, Psychology, & Welfare Group Menu

GS-0100 Job Listings

Job Listings Click the job title for job listings, number employed, job series definitions, duties and qualifications.

Review the job vacancy announcements and Qualification Standards for the job you are interested in.

Job Series Definitions

These position descriptions are excerpted from the qualification standards for each job title in this group. In the General Schedule position classification system is established under chapter 51 of title 5, United States Code. The term “General Schedule” or “GS” denotes the major position classification system and pay structure for white collar work in the Federal government. Agencies that are no longer subject to chapter 51 have replaced the GS pay plan indicator with agency-unique pay plan indicators. For example, the Bureau of Prisons uses GL instead of the GS designation. For this reason, reference to General Schedule or GS is often omitted from the individual qualification standard sheets

A brief introduction for major occupations within this group is provided below.

Social Science GS-0101

Positions in this series for which other requirements have been established are identified separately.

Basic Requirements Degree: behavioral or social science; or related disciplines appropriate to the position.

  • Or a Combination of education and experience that provided the applicant with knowledge of one or more of the behavioral or social sciences equivalent to a major in the field.
  • Or four years of appropriate experience that demonstrated that the applicant has acquired knowledge of one or more of the behavioral or social sciences equivalent to a major in the field.

The federal government employs 11,121 in this occupation of which 455 work overseas. The VA is the largest employer with 2,774 followed by the DOD with 2,239 and HHS employs 1,414. All cabinet level agencies and many large independent agencies employ a fair number of workers in this series.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0101 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Aging Services Program Specialist
    • Generalist Counselor/ Advocate
    • Child and Family Program Specialist
    • Clinical Counselor
    • Correctional Treatment Specialist
    • Drug Treatment Specialist
    • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    • Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor
    • Senior Research Associate
    • Social Science Specialist
    • Specialty Treatment Program Specialist
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

The Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Professional and Scientific Positions is used for this series in conjunction with the Individual Occupational Requirements.

Social Science Aide & Tech GS-0102

There are no Individual Occupational Requirements for this series. Use the Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Technical and Medical Support Positions for this series. This qualification standard covers positions in the General Schedule that involve the performance of one-grade interval technical or medical support work. It contains common patterns of creditable experience and education to be used in making qualifications determinations.

The federal government employs 1,802 social science aids and technicians. The Veterans Administration is the largest employer with 1,500 followed by the Department of the Interior with 73, and the Court Services Offender Supervision Agency for DC with 70. The Air Force employs 35 civilians in this series.

For some occupations covered by this standard, 6 semester hours of specific courses are included in the l year of education that meets the GS-3 requirements. The 6 semester hours allow for subjects that are common to a broad range of degree programs, e.g., subjects in the mathematical, physical, or biological sciences. This inclusion corresponds to the second part of the description of general experience, i.e., the subjects provide evidence of a familiarity with the subject matter or processes of the broad subject area of the occupation. At grades GS-4 and above, a portion of the education is usually directly related to the work of the position to be filled. Examples of related courses are provided in the individual occupational requirements where applicable. However, agencies may require other courses if they are considered to be more related to the position to be filled.

Typical duties for various positions include:

  • Work as part of a multi-disciplinary team in various programs dealing with a multitude of issues.
  • Assist in basic program instruction and education initiatives in accordance with various plans.
  • Keep written records in accordance with program policies and procedures.
  • Provide guidance and instruction in group activities.
  •  Assist individual with homework assignments from school classes and treatment sessions.
  • Provides transportation to airport, hospital, and/or other treatment activities as directed.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0102 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Social Science Aide
    • Social Science Technician
    • Counselor Aide
    • Archeological Technician

Social Insurance Administration GS-0105

Currently Employed (29,155) – All work for the Social Security Administration

Social insurance specialists are involved with managing, supervising, or performing work concerned with the administration and operation of national social insurance and need-based benefit programs. This includes: (1) assisting people in establishing entitlement and receiving benefits; (2) adjudicating, authorizing, or reconsidering claims for benefits; (3) representing programs before the general public and providing information through various media; (4) studying operations, case processing, systems operations, methods, and procedures to improve the operation and delivery of programs and to assess the integrity and quality of program operations; (5) interpreting program requirements and formulating policies, procedures, methods, work aids, technical guides, and other reference material for program operations; and (6) preparing training materials and providing training to staff.

Positions included in this series primarily require knowledge of the laws, regulations, principles, and operating requirements of national social insurance and need-based programs; knowledge of the interrelationships among these programs and other related Federal and State programs; and analytical skills and abilities used in planning, developing, evaluating, or carrying out the operation and delivery of these programs to the public. All positions require knowledge, skills, and abilities sufficient to adjudicate, authorize, or reconsider claim for benefits.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Unemployment Insurance Series, GS-0106

This series covers positions involving the development, promotion and evaluation of unemployment insurance programs administered under Federal-State joint arrangement. Positions in this series require a knowledge of the history, concepts, methods and techniques of social insurance and of the social and economic conditions under which such programs operate.

The federal government employs 64 unemployment insurance program specialists. The DOD employs 60 and Social Security employs 4.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0106 (Unemployment Insurance Program Specialist Federal Job List)


  1. Positions involving work in the administration of the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance programs in an assigned area or territory. Such positions are classifiable in the Social Insurance Administration Series, GS-0105.
  2. Positions requiring the application of knowledge of a particular behavioral or social science in the performance of work which is specifically classifiable in an established specialized series in the Social Science, Psychology and Welfare Group, GS-0100.
  3. Positions which involve developing policies, standards, programs and procedures for the overall problems of employment service (including labor) operations to promote effective organization, management, and operation of local employment offices.

Economist Series, GS-0110

This series includes positions that require application of a professional knowledge of economics in the performance of duties that include: research into economic phenomena, analysis of economic data, and the preparation of interpretive reports; advice and consultation on economic matters to governmental officials and private organizations or citizens; and the performance of other professional work in economics including supervision and the direction of economists engaged in the various economics programs of the Federal Government.

The federal government employs 4,411 economists of which 43 work overseas. The Department of Labor is the largest employer with 1,212 followed by the DOD with 543 and the Department of Commerce employs 458. All cabinet level agencies and many large independent agencies employ a fair number of workers in this series.

Economics is classically defined as “the science of the laws and conditions which affect the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth.” Within so complex a society as ours, however, this classical definition often seems to become lost in the variety of efforts which absorb the attention of economists. Nearly every facet of modern life has an economic implication. Our economic “wealth” is not only the raw materials of our mines and forests and farms, but also our water and oil supplies, our power potentials, the whole fabric of our industrial and agricultural organization, our individual and collective skills, and our capacity for work; our “production” includes not only the gathering, growing and fabrication of every single thing we have in the whole of our civilization, but also the myriad of services we provide for one another.

Caitlin Worth was interviewed for an article on our federal jobs blog titled Working For The National Park Service (Part 2).

Carl Shapiro, a GS-0110 Economist working for the USGS, was interviewed for an article on our federal jobs blog titled Economist Jobs (GS-0110), Working for the USGS (Part 1). Shapiro works in the USGS Science and Decisions Center, Reston, VA.

Shapiro was looking for a field that provided structure to complex societal issues. He cites, “economic concepts provide an objective and structured way of considering the issues to form many types of decisions.”

Shapiro does studies in ecosystem services, which are beneficial to nature. He states, “economists work with biological and physical scientists to understand how ecosystem services are produced and with natural resource managers to understand how ecosystem services in making informed decisions.”

Shapiro recommends a career in economics because, “it has a clear and analytical methodology and addresses issues ranging from natural resources, to labor productivity, to policies relating to the money supply.  Economists are needed in a wide range of diverse fields.”

Shapiro suggests, “you should narrow your field to a specialty. Economics provides an analytical framework for considering the consequences of scarcity, alternative decisions, and tradeoffs, but it is not always a stand-alone discipline. Its value can be enhanced by connecting its approach with a broad set of societal challenges.”

Economists in the Federal Government contribute to some of the most fundamental processes of Government, as follows:

  1. One of the important provinces of Government is to gather and record information about the society being governed, and many Government economic programs are designed to do just this. The economists so employed collect, analyze, interpret, and publish a tremendous array of economic information — data which serve both contemporary and future scholars as “observations of economic phenomena.”
  2. Frequently, Government decisions on seemingly non-economic problems have economic connotations. (For example: Shall public land be used for the grazing of cattle, thus increasing our food supplies, or developed as a park to help meet our growing recreation needs? Should a highway pattern include an expressway between two major cities? Should the river be controlled by one high dam, or by a series of low dams? What are the economic costs and gains to be expected from a change in a prison policy, a public works project, a school program?) Economists are used in a variety of such programs to provide interpretive information and to advise and counsel officials charged with responsibility for such decisions.
  3. The planning of Government policy and the drafting of proposed legislation to meet the problems of our times, current and anticipated, require economic knowledge and understanding. From tax structures to foreign policy, from national defense budgets to agricultural surpluses, Government economists are directly concerned with major national and international issues. Research done in such an environment is inclined to be less a seeking of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, than a pragmatic search for information to solve real and immediate problems.

This specialization includes (1) positions which analyze and interpret relationships incorporating economic factors which cut across all sectors of the economy, (2) positions which specialize in methodology, (3) positions which are not appropriately classifiable to any other specialization in this series, and (4) all positions at the GS-5 and GS-7 levels. Positions in this specialization may be characterized by a variety of assignment patterns.

At all grade levels there are economists who analyze, interpret, synthesize, and project the movements and relationships among the many forces playing upon the economy. Typically, such economists use secondary sources and depend on their colleagues in the various branches of economics to collect and distill primary data. Frequently (though not necessarily), their work results in publication, sometimes in the “learned paper” tradition, but more typically in regular periodic publications of the Government.

Career Exploration Articles

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0110 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Economist
    • Financial Economist
    • Labor Economist
    • Regional Economist
    • Industry Economist
    • International Economist
    • Agricultural Economist

Economics Assistant GS-0119

Specialized Experience (for positions at GS-4 and above): Experience in performing research or related work that involved collecting, compiling, verifying, analyzing, or reporting data. Use the Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Technical and Medical Support Positions for this series in conjunction with the Individual Occupational Requirements described below.

Education and Training

For GS-4: Successful completion of 2 years of study that included at least 12 semester hours of courses in subjects such as business law, statistics, algebra, precalculus, calculus, or economics.

For GS-5: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study with major study in economics, or 24 semester hours in any combination of courses such as those shown above for GS-4.

The federal government employs 401 economics assistants of which all work for the Department of Labor. There are opportunities to telecommute with some of their positions.

There are position that are 100% teleworking. Job requires that employee works in the field, going to local businesses and residences to gather the required information. If required, employee will be given notification to appear at a specified office. Relocation expenses will not be provided.

Telework is a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of his or her position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.

Duties (Typical duties excerpted from a job announcement)

Economic Assistants collect prices and related statistical data on a wide variety of commodities, services, and housing for the BLS Consumer Price Index. Data for commodities and services are collected by conducting personal and telephone interviews with store managers and buyers, managers in auto dealerships, doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals. Data for the housing survey are obtained by personal visit or telephone interview with either property managers, tenants, or home owners. Duties include, but are not limited to: 1. Visiting retail and service establishments such as department stores, supermarkets, medical offices and hotels to collect retail price data. A limited amount of data is collected by telephone/fax. 2. Contacting homeowners, renters, and apartment management companies by personal visit to neighborhoods and follow up telephone interviews. 3. Collecting and entering data on a hand held computer. 4. Obtaining voluntary cooperation from survey respondents. 5. Traveling to office to have work reviewed during on-the-job training and for monthly meetings.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Foreign Affairs Specialist GS-0130

Foreign affairs officers perform the duties listed below at the full performance level.

The federal government employs 3,163 foreign affairs specialists and officers. There are 65 working overseas. The Department of State employs the largest number, 2,533. The Departments of the Army, Navy and Air force employ 405 civilians in this group, The Departments of Defense employs 266 with smaller numbers at about a half dozen other agencies including the  Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Energy. 


  • Edits and clears analysis papers through the Vital Presence Validation Process (VP2) for the Undersecretaries for Political Affairs and Management, and for the Deputy Secretaries. These papers have a direct bearing on our foreign affairs, our bilateral engagement, and on our continued presence in high risk posts.
  • Coordinates tasking from working groups, develops summaries/evaluations of options, and forges consensus on recommended actions. Develops background information, tactics, and approaches for presenting response options both in-house and in the interagency arena.
  • Visits embassies and posts as necessary to explain Bureau programs and requirements and to provide guidance and assistance in developing contingency plans or Emergency Action Plans.
  • Assembles teams and coordinates activities that collaboratively exchange Observations and Lessons Identified for the benefit of the total Department of State Mission dealing with Crisis Management.
  • Identifies and responds to emerging issues concerning various aspects of US foreign policy in the assigned area. Monitors developing political situations and related assessments made by interested organizations.
  • Initiates contacts with and briefs officials in other Bureaus on time-sensitive issues and developments relevant to U.S. foreign policy interests.

Key Requirements:

  • U.S. Citizenship is required.
  • Incumbent will be subject to random drug testing.
  • One year probationary period, unless excepted by regulation.
  • Must be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance.
  • May be required to work unscheduled overtime in response to a crisis.
  • Obtain/maintain eligibility to access Sensitive Compartmented Information

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0130 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Foreign Affairs Specialist
    • Foreign Affair Officer

International Relations GS-0131

The international relation officer advises on, administers, supervises, or performs professional work in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy of the United States in the conduct of the relations, primarily of a political or politico-economic nature, of the United States with other governments.

International relations officers qualifying experience that provides an intimate knowledge of a foreign country or geographic area may have been gained through residence, study, teaching, business or commercial activities, military service, newspaper work, military or civil government activities, missionary or international relief work, or other experience in foreign countries. It may also have been gained through teaching college-level courses in international relations or problems associated with a specific foreign geographic area.

The federal government employs 318 international relations officers of which 61 work overseas. The Department of Labor is the largest employer with 86, followed by the Department of the Air Force with 56 civilians, Homeland Security with 41, the Energy Department with 19, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with 15 and the Agriculture Department employs 12.

To qualify for positions at grades GS-12 and above on the basis of experience, this experience must have included either (a) responsibility for the direction and coordination of research, analysis, or other professional work in one or more of the fields listed in A above, or (b) specialized professional work involving a high level of difficulty and responsibility in one or more of these fields.

Individual Occupational Requirements

Basic Requirements

Degree: major or equivalent, or a combination of courses totaling at least 24 semester hours in international law and international relations, political science, economics, history, sociology, geography, social or cultural anthropology, law, statistics, or in the humanities; or 12 semester hours in one of the above disciplines and 12 semester hours in statistics/quantitative methods.


Combination of education and experience: courses equivalent to a major, or a combination of related courses totaling at least 24 semester hours, in one or more of the social sciences, or in the humanities, as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


Experience: four years of appropriate experience in one or more of the fields listed above in work associated with international organizations, problems, or other aspects of foreign affairs.

A recent job announcement for a supervisory international relations officer listed the following duties for the position:

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Intelligence Series, GS-0132

This series includes positions concerned with advising on, administering, supervising, or performing work in the collection, analysis, evaluation, interpretation, and dissemination of information on political, economic, social, cultural, physical, geographic, scientific, or military conditions, trends, and forces in foreign and domestic areas that directly or indirectly affect the national security. These positions require a basic knowledge and understanding of one or more of the natural or social sciences, engineering, or military science, but do not demand, as a primary qualification requirement, full knowledge of the current state of the art.

The federal government employs 13,194 intelligence Research Specialists and Intelligence Operations Specialists of which 589 work overseas or in the U.S. Territories. The Department of Justice is the largest employer with 3,947 followed by the Department of the Army with 2,554 and Homeland Security employs 1,677. Most cabinet level agencies and several large independent agencies including NASA with 23 employ workers in this group.

The intelligence occupation includes two different kinds of work: (1) intelligence research and analysis and (2) work connected with the organization of activities for the collection of raw intelligence and the dissemination of finished intelligence.

The intelligence activities of the Federal Government are carried on under the direction and coordination of a central agency. Most of the finished intelligence is produced by the intelligence organization of the various departments which make up what is known as “the intelligence community.” Each of these activities produces finished intelligence for use in accomplishing its own objectives. This type of intelligence is generally known as departmental intelligence. At the same time many members of the intelligence community contribute to the central agency finished intelligence (in their own area of activity) for overall intelligence reports. This type of intelligence is generally known as national intelligence. From time to time, members of the intelligence community procure services by private contract.

Intelligence reports are produced to provide information on which officials responsible for planning or administering Government programs can base action related to the national security. They may be initiated by a request for information from such officials. The information desired may be in the realm of factual, statistical, or other concrete data. For example, what was the production of chariots for fiscal ’92 in Assyria? (Assyria does not release information of this sort); who is Marcus Claudius, the man who has just engineered a coup d’état in Babylon and what is his political backing? or what are the operational characteristics of the new Etruscan sling shot? It may be of a more speculative nature: What percentage of the gross national product of Etruria will be devoted to offensive armament five years from now? What are the reactions of the prime minister of Babylon toward a certain proposal likely to be? In what direction is Assyrian chariot research tending?

The new Intelligence Series, GS-0132, supersedes and combines the former Intelligence Research Series, GS-0132 and the Military Intelligence Research Series, GS-0133; the Military Intelligence Analysis Series, GS-0134, has been redefined and retitled as Intelligence Aid and Clerk Series.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0132 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Intelligence Research Specialist
    • Intelligence Operations Specialist

International Cooperation Series, GS-0136

The GS-0136 series includes all classes of positions the duties of which are to advise on, administer, supervise, or perform research and operational work in the planning, development, and implementation of foreign economic assistance programs undertaken by the United States. These duties require a knowledge of economic, social, cultural, and political conditions in the country of assignment and of United States foreign policy.

The federal government employs 30 international cooperation officers. All work for the Agency for International Development.

This series includes positions which were formerly classified in the International Relations Series GS-0131. Since the GS-0131 series was not designed to cover positions requiring special knowledge and abilities in the carrying out of foreign economic assistance programs, this new series (GS-0136) has been established for such positions. The International Relations Series GS-0131 has not been superseded.

All of the positions require a knowledge of the economic, social, cultural and political factors in the country of assignment, a knowledge of United States foreign policy, and the ability to meet and deal successfully with important political and diplomatic figures.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series. Click on “Private Sector Job Listings” to search for related occupations in the private sector.)

Foreign Agricultural Affairs GS-0135

This series covers all classes of positions the duties of which are to advise on, administer, supervise, or perform professional work in market and economic analysis and interpretation, and foreign reporting, in connection with the development of foreign markets for United States agricultural commodities; in analysis of the agricultural economy, developments, trends, and conditions in foreign countries; and in representing the Government in matters affecting foreign agricultural affairs.

The federal government employs 59 foreign agricultural affairs specialists. All work for the Agricultural Department.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Manpower Research & Analysis GS-0140

This series covers positions involving the performance of professional work in workforce research or in workforce programs development and evaluation for the purpose of furthering the development and utilization of the nation’s workforce. Such work requires the application of concepts, principles and practices of sociology, psychology, economics, and/or allied social sciences in implementing national programs designed to equip the underemployed, the persistently unemployed and other unemployed with necessary skills to provide an opportunity for their full participation and utilization in the labor force; to increase the general employability of unemployed youth; to aid school dropouts or potential dropouts in continuing or resuming their education; and to ensure sufficient availability of the workforce and needed occupational skills.

The federal government employs 73 manpower research and analysis specialists. All work for the Department of Labor.

The incumbent for this position serves as a Workforce Analyst performing but not limited to the following duties: (Excerpted from a recent job announcement)

  • Prepares reports on economic and labor market trends applicable to concerns and issues confronting workforce development programs;
  • Analyzes research findings to provide recommendations and options on program activities;
  • Develops information on program requirements to update and maintain ONET;
  • Prepares or develops replies, reports, and analyses policy, guidance, research, evaluation issues and projects as related to workforce development issues;
  • Arranges for and facilitates conferences/meetings to provide information and guidance to contractors which support and promotes the program goals and objectives; and
  • Develops various written documents such as: responses to constituents, press releases, talking points, briefings, concepts, and writes/edits new solicitations for funding grants for the Department.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Workforce Development Series, 0142

The workforce and development series covers positions that involve specialized administrative and technical work concerned with the implementation, promotion, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of federally funded programs for the development and utilization of the workforce. Some positions in this occupation are involved in programs that deal with the identification of and communication with disadvantaged persons requiring employment assistance, the provision of necessary assistance and support through counseling, education, training, and their placement into suitable, stable employment. These positions require specialized knowledge and application of workforce development methods, practices, techniques, and principles. These positions do not require full professional knowledge in one or more of the social or behavioral sciences or regular application of the theories, principles, and practices of these disciplines.

The federal government employs 242 in this occupation, most work for the Department of Labor.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Geography Series, GS-0150

This series includes positions the duties of which involve professional work in the field of geography, including the compilation, synthesis, analysis, interpretation and presentation of information regarding the location, distribution, and interrelationships of and processes of change affecting such natural and human phenomena as the physical features of the earth, climate, plant and animal life, and man’s settlements and institutions.

Geography is the science that observes the phenomena of the earth and attempts to put them into meaningful perspective. “Phenomena” of interest to geography may be natural, or the result of man’s activities, and include physical features, such as land forms, rivers, etc.; cultural features, such as settlements, population distribution, etc.; and such phenomena as climate, boundary changes, use of resources, etc. In general, geography wants to know how much of what is where, why it is there, and what its significance is to nature and man.

The federal government employs 819 geographers of which 5 work overseas. The Department of the Interior is the largest employer with 317 followed by the Department of the Army with 180 and the Department of Commerce employs 160. Small numbers work in other agencies including the Department of Agriculture that employs 62.

 Roger Sayre, is a GS-15 ecosystems geographer at the USGS in Reston, VA.  He was interviewed for an article on our federal jobs blog titled Geographer (GS-0150) and Cartographer (GS-1370) Career Paths (USGS Part 3). Sayre maps the distribution of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems globally. Sayre indicates that “ecosystems geography is knowing the types, distributions, and condition of the ecosystems that are on the landscape and the seascape because ecosystems give humans the goods and services that are critical for our survival.” Sayre states, “I would rather hire an employee with a science background. The science background is more important than proficiency in using tools such as GIS and remote sensing. It is easier to train GIS specialists with a science background than without.”

The interests of geography cut across many subject-matter areas which are the special interest of other disciplines. For example, geology, geodesy and cartography are concerned with specialized aspects of land forms and terrain. Other fields (urban planning, soil conservation, anthropology, sociology, political science, meteorology, etc.) also encompass matters of interest to geographers — land use, natural resources, man’s environment, atmospheric disturbances, etc.

Geography is distinguished from related fields by (1) its primary concern with the spatial-distributional aspects of man’s environment or potential environment on the earth’s surface; (2) its interdisciplinary interest in the phenomena of the earth; (3) its graphic and taxonomic approach toward observing, recording and presenting geographic information; and (4) its integrative approach toward interpreting and determining the significance of the relationships existing among various phenomena.

The synthesis, analysis and interpretation of geographic information results in (a) information for the production of accurate maps, charts and gazetteers; (b) standardized geographic nomenclature; (c) studies to show and compare the distribution of phenomena (comparative distribution studies); (d) regional and area studies; and (e) research into the causal relationships and significance of observed features and events.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Civil Rights Analysis GS-0160

This series includes positions primarily concerned with planning, conducting, and reporting descriptive social science research in the field of civil rights and equal opportunity when the paramount qualification requirement for the position includes a broad knowledge of the field of civil rights; ability to apply accepted documentary and field research techniques to study issues and policies affecting civil rights; consulting skill; and a high degree of writing and oral communication skill. Positions in this series typically involve research into specialized technical fields such as voting rights, public accommodations, or equal employment requiring specialized knowledge of a subject-matter area in addition to a broad knowledge of civil rights.

The federal government employs 60 civil rights analysts. The Commission on Civil Rights employs 18, the Department of the Justice has 15 employees, and Health and Human Services employs 17. 

This series includes positions involved in civil rights research work. The field of civil rights is defined by a body of laws, regulations, administrative procedures, public policies and court and administrative decisions. These laws and policies are designed to protect civil rights and to provide equal opportunity in a wide range of economic, social, and political activities including, but not necessarily limited to, employment, housing, education, social services, business, and finance. Civil rights and equal opportunity laws and policies prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, physical or mental handicapping condition, or other bases specified by law.

Positions in this series involve fact-finding, analysis, writing, research, and application of civil rights principles to identify and/or solve problems. Positions in this series are involved in conducting civil rights research, advising government officials on civil rights laws and policies, or performing similar work requiring equivalent qualifications.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

History Series, GS-0170

This series includes positions the duties of which are to advise on, administer, supervise or perform research or other work in the field of history when such work requires a professional knowledge of established methods and techniques of historical research in the collection, evaluation, analysis or presentation of historical facts.

The federal government employs 765 historians of which 30 work overseas. The Department of the Air Force is the largest employer with 197 civilians followed by the Department of the Interior with 171 and the Department of the Army employs 158. All but two cabinet level agencies employ workers in this group including a few large independent agencies.

Historians in the Federal Government are engaged in one or more of the following major areas of endeavor:

  1. planning and conducting special historical studies relating to current problems for use by agency officials and others in developing or modifying policies and programs,
  2. planning and conducting continuing or long-range historical studies to record the policies, programs and operations of their particular agencies,
  3. planning and preparing scholarly narrative or documentary histories for publication, or
  4.  planning and conducting historical studies in connection with the establishment, conservation, restoration, reconstruction and interpretation to the public of sites of major significance in the military, political, economic and cultural history of the United States.

Regardless of the area of endeavor involved, historian positions at full performance levels typically include responsibility for project planning and research and presentation functions.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Psychology Series, GS-0180

Psychologist are involved with professional work relating to the behavior, capacities, traits, interests and activities of human and animal organisms. This work may involve any one or a combination of the following functions: (1) experimenting with or systematically observing organisms to develop scientific principles or laws concerning the relationship of behavior to factors of environment, experience or physiology, or to develop practical applications of findings, (2) applying professional knowledge of psychological principles, theories, methods or data to practical situations and problems, and (3) providing consultative services or training in psychological principles, theories, methods, and techniques to advance knowledge of them and their appropriate use.

The field of psychology relates closely to many other fields. For instance, the statistical and mathematical methodology employed by psychologists is common to other disciplines. To illustrate: psychologists may construct mathematical models of the behavioral characteristics being studied. These mathematical models represent various units of behavior. They are modified by the addition or deletion of variables until the model provides an adequate (though highly simplified) representation of the behaviors being studied. Once established, the mathematical model may then be used for analyzing past behavior, or for understanding and interpreting patterns of behavior. Psychologists also employ established statistical methods in collecting data regarding the specific characteristics of a population under study.

Psychologists are trained in and concerned with (1) describing how an organism behaves in an environment in response to internal and external stimuli, (2) determining the reasons for the behavior (e.g., heredity, present environment, past history and learning), and (3) predicting and, as appropriate, modifying behavior.

The behavior of organisms-in-environment includes sensing (seeing, hearing, etc.), perceiving (interpreting the environment), moving (walking, manipulating objects), learning and remembering, feeling and emoting, thinking, and problem solving, and socializing. Psychologists study these activities in organisms of any age, as individuals, as individuals in a group, or as a group of individuals. They may be concerned with “normal” behavior, or with aberrations of behavior, varying from slight to definitely abnormal deviations.

Psychologists describe behavior in terms of such motivating factors as external and internal stimuli, drives, motives, attitudes, interests, etc., and in terms of the neuropsychological or biochemical correlates of behavior. They view these motivating factors and behavior as the result of the interaction of hereditary and environmental factors.

Psychologists develop and use methods for accurately measuring behavior and the factors associated with it and for predicting and modifying behavior based on these measurements. They may try to modify or change the behavior of an individual in order to enable him to adjust better to his environment, or they may attempt to modify the environment to enable an individual or a group to adjust better to it.

All psychologists share a broad base of professional training which includes the concepts and use of experimental, observational and quantitative methods in the study of behavior. However, the breadth and diversity of the field are such that subject-matter or functional specialization (or both) is typical.

The federal government employs 8,603 psychologists of which 128 work overseas. The Veterans Administration is the largest employer with 5,933 followed by the Department of the Army with 849 and the Department of Justice employs 550. All but one cabinet level agency employs a number of psychologists including several large independent agencies such as NASA and OPM.

Further, many of the problems studied by psychologists are also studied by psychiatrists, physiologists, neurologists, biochemists or zoologists, or by educators, social workers, lawyers, administrators, or engineers. The nature of this cross-discipline relationship is described further in that portion of the standard which discusses interdisciplinary positions.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Psychology Aide & Tech GS-0181

This series covers classes of positions that involve the performance of nonprofessional technical work in connection with a program of research or direct services in psychology. Positions in this series involve a practical understanding of some of the principles, methods and techniques of psychology but do not require formal education in psychology. While positions in the lower grades of the Psychology Series, 0180, may involve performance of tasks similar to work performed by incumbents in this series, work classifiable to the 0180 series is distinguished by the fact that it is performed as part of a program of training and development leading to acquisition of broader knowledge, skills and insights into the overall principles and theory of psychology, whereas work in the Psychology Aid and Technician Series is performed for its immediate productive value, is typically very limited in breadth, and does not provide substantial development of broader psychological skills, knowledge, and insights

The federal government employs 856 psychology Aides & technicians. The Veterans Administration is the largest employer of this series with 547, followed by the Department of the Army with 19, the Justice Department with 72 and the Department of the Air Force with 18.

Duties (Excerpted from a recent USAJOBS job opportunities announcement)

  • A phycology aide and technician manages and performs technical functions for the research and organizational consultation work for the assigned Department.
  • Conduct evaluations with mental health patients, administer psychological tests and questionnaires, assist with therapy groups, and conduct educational classes and prevention/outreach briefings and activities.
  • Assist credentialed providers with crisis intervention, group therapy and case management. Provide crisis counseling. Assist with therapeutic process groups.
  • Function as case manager for initiating and coordinating care with local inpatient facility for mental health treatment. Coordinate care with other agencies.
  • Conduct basic assessment procedures. Assist credentialed providers in identifying mental health diagnosis.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Sociology GS-0184

This series includes positions that involve professional work requiring a knowledge of sociology and sociological methods specifically related to the establishment, validation, interpretation, and application of knowledge about social processes. Sociologists and study specialized areas such as: changes in the character, size, distribution, and composition of the population; social mechanisms for enforcing compliance with widely accepted norms and for controlling deviance; social phenomena having to do with human health and disease; the structure and operation of organizations; and the complex interrelationship of the individual and society.

The federal government employs 28 sociologists. The majority work for Health and Human Services.

Sociologists are concerned primarily with the study of patterns of group and organizational behavior, social interaction, and social situations in which interaction occurs. The emphasis is on the patterns of behavior that are characteristic of social groups, organizations, institutions, and nations. Some sociologists perform sociological research, others apply sociological principles and findings, and some perform a combination of both kinds of work.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Social Work Series, GS-0185

The social worker series includes positions which require application of a professional knowledge of the principles and practices of social work in the performance of such assignments as providing direct services to individuals and families, including work with individuals in groups. Also included are positions concerned with teaching social work, doing research on social work problems, training of social work students, and providing consultation and advice to members of related professions and community organizations on social work questions.

The federal government employs 18,884 social workers of which 111 work overseas. The VA is the largest employer with 16,772 followed by the Department of the Army with 1,185 and the Department of the Navy employs 153. Many cabinet level agencies and some large independent agencies employ social workers.

Excluded from this series are those positions concerned with providing authorized social assistance and services to beneficiaries of public welfare programs when such work is of a specialized nature that requires knowledge of program policy and operation rather than the application of professional social work knowledge and skill. Positions which involve performance of correctional treatment in penal and correctional institutions but which do not require application of professional knowledge of the principles and practices of social work are also excluded from this series.

This position is immediately applicable to classification of nonsupervisory social work positions in which the primary emphasis is on direct professional service to individuals and families. Positions principally concerned with other methods of service or with research or teaching social work should be classified by comparison with the grade-level criteria in this standard and by reference to related standards.

Most of these positions are thought of as engaged in professional casework in the specific sense that their first purpose is to provide direct social work services to individuals and families. The term “casework” is used in this particular sense to designate practice associated with service to individuals and families as distinguished from methods of problem solving and prevention associated with group practice, work with community organizations, administration, consultation, research, etc.

Social work is oriented to professional practice and is primarily concerned with individual cases rather than with social problems as abstractions. Its knowledge and skill are applied to helping individuals and families find satisfactory ways of coping with their social situations and relationships. This concern is at the root and core of the historical values and professional identity of social work.

Research in social work is focused on producing valid and generalized knowledge for social work practice. The area of this research centers on the social functioning of individuals and families. It may range from studies of specific aspects of the methods and techniques used in social work practice to studies of a variety of social processes involving the individual and his environment. This research is for the purpose of improving professional practice.

The normal pattern of professional social work includes interviewing people to establish the nature and extent of their problems, helping them work out plans for improving the situation, providing assistance and services, referring them to community resources and other organizations as indicated, and assisting them to understand and modify their own patterns of behavior when appropriate.

Broadly speaking, there are three major phases of activity that make up the action sequence of the casework process, namely: (1) identifying the problem, (2) deciding appropriate action, and (3) providing indicated services. In practice, the whole information-decision-action sequence is integrated into continuous operating activity. In social work literature, these steps are often called study, diagnosis, and treatment.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Social Services Aide & Assist. GS-0186

This series covers nonprofessional positions in support of counseling, guidance, and related social services work in social, employment assistance, or similar programs. The persons served by the programs may be individuals or families in the community or individuals in an institution, dormitory, or other Government facility. Duties may range from work that involves group leadership and giving practical guidance on day-to-day activities to residents in a Government facility to work that involves giving unemployed adults information and assistance on community job training or employment opportunities. The work requires skill to communicate effectively and to work constructively with members of the particular group involved. The work also requires a practical knowledge of program requirements and procedures, and a practical understanding of some of the more routine methods and techniques of counseling.

The federal government employs 1,231 socials service aides of which 31 work overseas. The Department of Agriculture is the largest employer with 426 followed by the Department of the Army with 341 civilians. The VA employs 302, HHS 49, The Department of the Navy 18, and 17 work with the Courts Services and Offender Supervision Agency for DC.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0186 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Social Services Aide
    • Social Services Assistant

Social Services Series, GS-0187

The social services series includes positions which require application of specialized program knowledge and service skills in providing assistance to individuals and families served by social welfare programs. This work involves such functions as obtaining selected background information through interviews and home visits, establishing eligibility to make use of agency resources, helping individuals identify needs that are related to services the agency can provide, explaining and encouraging the use of agency and community resources as means of dealing with identified problems, and making appropriate referrals to sources of additional help. These functions may be performed either (a) in conjunction with professional social work or (b) in conformity with agency procedural instructions and standards of service. Although these positions require a specialized knowledge of the social service program, they do not require a broad theoretical approach to social problems acquired through professional education in social work or in other recognized disciplines in the social sciences.

The federal government employs 288 social service representatives and Social Work Associates in this occupation. The VA is the largest employer with 169 followed by the Department of the Army with 45 and the Interior Department employs 36. A few cabinet level agencies and one large independent agencies employ workers in this series.

The purpose which distinguishes a public assistance program from other social welfare programs (e.g., child welfare and family services) is that it provides eligible needy persons with supplementary income sufficient to enable them to obtain the necessities of life on a level of decency and health. Economic need is the basic eligibility consideration.

Public assistance standards define basic necessities and set maximum allowances for food, clothing, and personal or household needs. Verified expenses are allowable up to these maximums under various specified conditions. Circumstances may justify such contingent items as transportation and health services. Regulations also provide standard procedures to be used in determining an applicant’s income and making the required verification of his resources. Resources include such items as statutory benefits, contributions of relatives, cash reserves, and resources in kind. The applicant’s total allowable requirements are itemized by the public assistance agency and are used to measure the adequacy of his total available resources, calculate his assistance needs, and authorize grants.

The work of the social service representative deals with the combined economic and related needs of individuals assigned to him for service and both concerns are closely interwoven in his activities. For simplicity of presentation, the following discussion divides the services related to public assistance into two categories:

  1. Establishing Eligibility for Financial Assistance, which includes determining economic need and authorizing money payments and contingent items; and
  2. Identifying Related Needs and Providing Auxiliary Service, which includes working with recipients who need and can use other forms of assistance and helping them to make use of any resources available to them to meet these needs.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

  • USAJOBS GS-0187 (Federal Job Lists)
    • Social Services Representative
    • Social Work Associate

Recreation Specialist Series, GS-0188

Recreational specialist positions paramount requirement is for a general knowledge of the goals, principles, methods, and techniques of the broad field of recreation in evaluating recreation needs and in planning, organizing, advising on, and administering recreation activities and programs which promote the physical, creative, and social development of participants.

The federal government employs 1,136 recreation specialists of which 95 work overseas. The Department of Justice is the largest employer with 578 followed by the Department of the Air Force with 182 and the Department of the Navy employs 144. Many of the cabinet level agencies and a few medium to small independent agencies employ workers in this series.

Recreation specialists apply a knowledge of the values and uses of recreation and of the interests and attitudes of the population served in planning and carrying out recreation programs. They evaluate recreation needs and stimulate and maintain participant interest in appropriate recreational activities.

Recreation specialists are employed in a variety of recreation programs. They provide recreation for:

  • members of the armed services and their dependents;
  • residents of Department of Justice correctional institutions;
  • residents of the District of Columbia;
  • students in boarding schools and other educational facilities administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior;
  • (in nontherapeutic, strictly divisional settings), patients and staff of hospitals and homes, or of other Federal medical facilities.

Regardless of their subject-matter specialization, all recreation specialists must possess:

  • a basic knowledge of the goals, principles, methods, and techniques of recreation;
  • a good understanding of the interests and motivations of individuals and groups
  • the program planning and leadership skills needed to devise and carry out recreation programs that will stimulate and sustain the interest of participants and so challenge their participation that they may benefit from the physical, psychological, and social values to be derived from recreational activities.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Recreation Aide & Assistant GS-0189

This series includes positions requiring a practical knowledge of one or more recreational activities, such as military or urban community center activities, child care and youth center activities, senior citizens recreation activities, outdoor recreation activities, recreation craft centers and hobby shops, sports centers, music and theater centers, and general recreation activities for special populations such as students in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ boarding schools and inmates of Federal correctional institutions. This practical knowledge, combined with skill in the maintenance and use of recreation materials and equipment, is used in providing support and assistance to recreation specialists or recreation program managers by performing limited aspects of recreation work, and by working with participants in well-organized and carefully monitored recreation activities.

The federal government employs 636 recreation aides and assistants of which 41 work overseas. The Department of the Army, Navy, and Air Force are the largest employers with 373 civilians. The VA employs 147, the Agriculture Department employs 50, the Interior Department 48, and Homeland Security 13.

Individual assignments vary depending on the particular recreation activities or programs to which the aid or assistant is assigned. The following examples of work typical of positions in this series are not all-inclusive but are broadly representative of these types of positions. These single tasks occur in considerable variety in a single position and require at least a limited practical knowledge of the recreation activities which are involved. When some of these single tasks are full-time and do not require a practical knowledge of the recreation activities which are involved, they may be classifiable to other series.

The location of positions in this series also varies greatly from program to program, depending upon management’s needs. Some recreation aids and assistants work on overall programs; others are assigned to a particular specialty area (e.g., outdoor activities or youth activities); others rotate as needed between two or more program specialty areas.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

General Anthropology GS-0190

This series covers all classes of positions the duties of which are to advise on, supervise or perform research or other professional and scientific work in the anthropological sciences except archeology. This work may be specialized in one or several of the branches of the scientific field that includes ethnology, physical anthropology, and scientific linguistics.

The federal government employs 174 anthropologists. Health and Human Services employs 71, the Department of the Interior 378, and the Department of Defense 28. 

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Archeology Series, GS-0193

This series includes positions that involve professional work in archeology, the scientific study of past human activities through the physical remains of life and past human activities. The work may include research, field investigations, laboratory analysis, library research, interpretation or consultative work, preparation of reports for publication, cu ration and exhibition of collections, or development and implementation of programs and projects which carry out such work. Such work requires a knowledge of professional archeological principles, theories, concepts, methods, and techniques.

The federal government employs 1,217 archeologists. The Department of the Interior is the largest employer with 515 followed by the Department of Agriculture with 407 and the Department of the Army employs 166. A few other cabinet level agencies and large independent agencies employ a few archeologists.

The college or university is the usual source of basic training for the archeologist of today. A 4-year curriculum should cover archeological field work, methods and theories, development of culture in geographic and regional areas, development of archeology as a scientific discipline, and methods and techniques to study prehistoric and historic sites, artifacts and specimens. It should also embrace courses in other disciplines, e.g., geology, botany, history. Although archeologists are not expected to be experts in all such disciplines they must be adequately familiar with various fields to understand results and make relevant interpretations.

Positions at the full performance and high levels typically involve the solution of theoretical or applied problems of such complexity, novelty, or diversity as to require the following for satisfactory performance:

  • Thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the fundamental principles which constitute the common core of knowledge required of positions in this series.
  • Familiarity with and skill to comprehend and apply complex theoretical considerations and new developments in the technical literature of archeology and related scientific disciplines.

The following interview is excerpted from the article titled Working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Archeologists (Part 1)

Jenny Blanchard is a GS-0193-11 archaeologist working with BLM’s Anchorage Field Office in Anchorage, AL, “In college, I loved anthropology and archaeology classes.  As an undergraduate, you take field school, so I took 2 archaeological field school classes in Alaska.  I spent my study abroad in a semester doing Mayan archaeology in Belize.  There is so much to learn about past cultures, that I knew archaeology would never be boring”.

Blanchard points out that the most exciting part of her job is going to remote parts of Alaska, “I spend a lot of time in a helicopter in the summer, because there are literally no roads in the 17 million acres of BLM that she is responsible for.” Blanchard reveals that she has met great people, worked on interesting archaeological sites, and has seen a lot of natural resources along the way. “I’ve seen some of the rarest birds in North America, worked next to a fur seal rookery in the Pribilof Islands, and had muskox roaming over my project sites on two projects in Alaska.”

As a federal archaeologist Blanchard has the responsibility for managing the cultural resources on public lands including the cultural heritage, history, and prehistory that belongs to all Americans. Blanchard recommends that those who are interested in entering this field should get a good background in science. She suggests that archaeologists use chemistry, biology (zoology, botany, etc.), ecology, and geology regularly, so the more you know about those, the more you can dive into the field.

Job Series Titles: (The USAJOBS selection lists all federal job vacancies for this job series.)

Career Articles