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Career News | May 30, 2019

Puzzled by Pay?

By DCAA Staff Writer

Thinking about a job with DCAA? You’re probably wondering how much you’ll earn, how promotions work, and what a “GS grade” is.

Understanding the General Schedule (GS)

DCAA employees are paid according to the government’s General Schedule (GS) pay system. The GS system includes 15 pay grades, with 10 steps or levels within each. Typically, a new employee is hired at step 1 of a grade, although this can vary. DCAA entry-level employees normally start at either the GS-7 or GS-9 grade, depending upon their degrees and experience. Managerial employees typically are in the GS-13 through GS-15 levels. You can learn more about the GS system at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website.

Making the Grade (and the Steps) to Get Ahead

Employees are reviewed for grade advancement up to the GS-12 level about every 52 weeks, and can advance if they meet required performance standards (see the article, “Climbing the Career Ladder”). Above the GS-12 grade, advancement is competitive. Advancements within a grade, called step increases, are also reviewed at set intervals. Employees can be advanced faster for especially good performance—and step increases can be denied for unacceptable performance. Each step and grade advancement will increase your salary.

Where You Work Also Impacts Pay

The GS pay system is locality-based, meaning there’s a pay differential based on where you work. Locality pay is designed to bridge the compensation gap between GS employees in a specific area and non-Federal employees who perform similar duties in the same location. In other words, it helps DCAA and other Agencies compete for well-qualified candidates with market-adjusted pay. Locality increases are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey.

There are 51 metropolitan locality pay areas; Alaska and Hawaii each comprise a separate locality; and a catchall “rest of the U.S.” locality includes everywhere else in the contiguous 48 states and U.S. territories and possessions. Pay in the highest-paid locality, San Francisco, exceeds the pay in the lowest-paid locality, the “rest of the U.S.,” by about 25 percent. Employees working in foreign countries don’t get locality pay, but can be eligible for several compensation add-ons.

Learn What You Could Make, Based on Grade and Location

OPM offers a salary calculator that lets you see the annual pay for each Grade, step, and specific locality. No matter how much it is or where you earn it, you can count on receiving your pay biweekly through direct deposit.

Want to learn more? Read about Competitive Salaries at DCAA here.