Qualification Standards

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule positions, and the Handbook X-118C Job Qualification System for Trades and Labor Occupations, contain qualification standards for occupations in the Federal government.

Qualification standards outline the necessary basic eligibility requirements for a particular occupation or a group of occupations and for each grade in the occupation. They specify the minimum quality level and amount of experience required and, often allow education as a substitute for some experience. Qualification requirements for basic eligibility may include, but are not limited to any or a combination of the following:

  • General and/or specialized work experience

  • High school education

  • Vocational/technical training

  • College/university education

  • Specific major fields or courses of study

  • Specific registrations, licensure, or certifications

  • Other selective placement factors

The standards are used by Human Resources Specialists to evaluate internal and external candidates' qualifications for positions. The minimum qualification standards are used to eliminate those persons who are not eligible for further consideration because they fail to meet the "basic" requirements for the occupation. The qualification standard does not identify the criteria for determining the "best qualified" candidate.

Section IV of the Qualification Standards Handbook contains the qualification standards for each GS series. This section of the Handbook does not stand alone. Section IV should be used together with Section II, General Policies and Instructions. Section II contains a definition of terms, an expanded explanation of the process used to credit experience and education, and describes allowable substitions.

OPM may authorize exceptions to the standard qualification requirements. For Motor Vehicle Operators, on the basis of the complex driving problems unique to the military agencies, OPM has authorized the Department of the Army to measure applicants against the additional standards listed in AR 600-55.

Content last reviewed: 6/8/2006-ALM

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This page was last revised: 6/8/2006