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Competitive Salaries

A career with DCAA provides you all the financial benefits and stability of a federal job–including a competitive base salary. You may further be eligible for cost-of-living increases, locality pay (depending on geographic location), and awards such as performance awards tied to your annual rating, on-the-spot awards, time-off awards, and special act awards.

New auditors who meet performance expectations also have the opportunity to advance quickly through “career ladder” promotions. 

Understanding Federal Pay Grades

The General Schedule (GS) classification and pay system applies to a majority of civilian federal employees in professional, technical, administrative, and clerical positions. It has 15 levels (known as grades): GS-01 (the lowest) to GS-15 (the highest). Each grade also has 10 step rates (steps 1-10) that are each worth about 3 percent of an employee’s salary.

DCAA classifies each job’s grade based on its difficulty, responsibility, and required qualifications. Auditor positions range from GS-05 to GS-15.

How Qualifications Determine Pay Grade

The specific job requirements, along with an applicant’s education level, auditing and related experience, and other qualifications (like CPA certification) all factor into the grade at hiring. That’s one reason an accurate and detailed job application is so important.

Because both education and experience affect grade level, there isn’t a strict formula for determining grade levels. The table below shows typical relationships between GS grades, experience, and education.

Auditor Position Level Typical GS Grades Education Experience
Entry-Level    GS-05, GS-07 Bachelor's degree

Fewer than three years of
professional-level auditing

Mid-Level GS-09, GS-11, GS-12 Master's degree or PhD (with required experience) Three or more years of
professional-level auditing.
Senior-Level GS-13, GS-14, GS-15 PhD Advanced auditing experience
involving complex contracts and programs. 


Applicants should carefully review the grade level for each position of interest. For example, if you have GS-9 level experience, but apply for a posted GS-7 position, it is likely that an offer would be at the GS-7 level.

Learn more at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guide to the GS Pay Scale, or use OPM’s GS Salary Calculator.

“Laddering” Up for Career Advancement

Entry-level or developmental positions are structured downward from the full performance grade level. This is commonly known as a “career ladder” position, as it allows applicants to qualify at the lower grade level and be noncompetitively promoted to the next grade level in “the ladder” through successful performance over a 52 week period. Thus, they are climbing the ladder to success much faster than other employees in the organization.

For example, if you’re hired at the GS-05 entry level for an auditor position and successfully meet the performance requirements, you would be noncompetitively promoted to the GS-07 level 52 weeks later. Follow this path and within four years, you would be at the full performance level of GS-12.

That’s a fast track to a major career advancement.

Infographic of the GS pay scale


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