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fenian41  
#1 Posted : Monday, November 8, 2021 2:45:49 PM(UTC)
fenian41

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Location: New York

Hi- complicated (and wordy!) couple of questions here, strictly out of curiosity.

I'm a GS-7, Step 2 Federal Firefighter for the VA with a decent locality. Our schedule is a 72 hour workweek. We also get Weekend Premium Pay (est. $5,000-8,000 a year) because we are clinical providers. Without working any extra overtime, my salary is roughly $89,000ish a year. We get the FERS Special Retirement (for me, retirement age is 47). Morale is very low at my job (and has been for 20+ years I'm told), and I do not see myself having a healthy life while in this position, working that many hours with such low morale.

1) I have a decent background in both the volunteer fire service and occupational safety. I'm working on obtaining my Bachelors in Public Admin (should complete within a year). I've been exploring the possibility of transitioning to a civilian "40 hour" employee. I fully understand that I would need to leave the FERS Special and be apart of the "normal" FERS retirement. I am willing to take a pay cut (due to working less hours obviously), but from the GS payscale for my area, the lowest salary I could feasibly accept is a GS-11, Step 1. From my knowledge there's the GS in-grade requirement that would require me to have one year in grade as a GS-9 or GS-10 (depending on the job field). Is there any way to overcome this, besides a GS-9 position with promotion potential to an 11? I have read that current federal employees can advance without the time in grade rule, as long as their experience is based off other-than-federal employment and/or they apply under the Open to Public announcement, rather than the internal. Is this true, or even possible? For many safety jobs, I can qualify off my volunteer experience alone.

2) Is it possible to negotiate steps? I have been told so many different things at work- one HR representative said you cannot negotiate steps for promotions within your duty station. Another told me steps are negotiable.

Thank you in advance-

GRITS  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 1:47:00 AM(UTC)
GRITS

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Originally Posted by: fenian41 Go to Quoted Post
Hi- complicated (and wordy!) couple of questions here, strictly out of curiosity.

I'm a GS-7, Step 2 Federal Firefighter for the VA with a decent locality. Our schedule is a 72 hour workweek. We also get Weekend Premium Pay (est. $5,000-8,000 a year) because we are clinical providers. Without working any extra overtime, my salary is roughly $89,000ish a year. We get the FERS Special Retirement (for me, retirement age is 47). Morale is very low at my job (and has been for 20+ years I'm told), and I do not see myself having a healthy life while in this position, working that many hours with such low morale.

1) I have a decent background in both the volunteer fire service and occupational safety. I'm working on obtaining my Bachelors in Public Admin (should complete within a year). I've been exploring the possibility of transitioning to a civilian "40 hour" employee. I fully understand that I would need to leave the FERS Special and be apart of the "normal" FERS retirement. I am willing to take a pay cut (due to working less hours obviously), but from the GS payscale for my area, the lowest salary I could feasibly accept is a GS-11, Step 1. From my knowledge there's the GS in-grade requirement that would require me to have one year in grade as a GS-9 or GS-10 (depending on the job field). Is there any way to overcome this, besides a GS-9 position with promotion potential to an 11? I have read that current federal employees can advance without the time in grade rule, as long as their experience is based off other-than-federal employment and/or they apply under the Open to Public announcement, rather than the internal. Is this true, or even possible? For many safety jobs, I can qualify off my volunteer experience alone.

2) Is it possible to negotiate steps? I have been told so many different things at work- one HR representative said you cannot negotiate steps for promotions within your duty station. Another told me steps are negotiable.

Thank you in advance-



Are you under Excepted Service or Competitive Service?
fenian41  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 4:50:22 AM(UTC)
fenian41

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Location: New York

Competitive service.
GRITS  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, November 10, 2021 5:28:53 AM(UTC)
GRITS

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It is true that federal employees can advance without the time in grade rule, as long as their experience is based off other-than-federal employment and/or they apply under the Open to Public announcement, rather than the internal. Your volunteer experience can be used for TIG, which the time invested in the activities are most important to calculate how much experience you having in during any particular job.
Navy Bubblehead  
#5 Posted : Friday, November 12, 2021 4:34:53 AM(UTC)
Navy Bubblehead

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Also keep in mind you may have to "educate" your HR on your outside experience and the fact that is what you are using to apply for the higher grade. Too many of them will see you are already a Fed, apply TIG, and toss the application regardless.
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