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Salary Negotiation for Government Jobs

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Resume Writer

Registered User
Feb 7, 2004
Hi Everyone,

There seems to be confusion on whether a person can negotiate salary for a government position. Not only can you negotiate a salary, you might be surprised at what other benefits you can negotiate. The following article will clarify the steps taken and the potential perks available.

By the way, BEFORE you apply to government positions, ensure that you possess the qualifications they require. I recently had a client want to apply for a position that required five years of experience in the type of work posted. She did not have ANY experience, and I told her that she would not make it past the initial screen.

Further, when she sent me the announcement, I read it briefly and told her that they already had someone in mind for the position. (due to my background in HR, I can read right through these things) Sure enough, she called me once we were finished and told me that the position had already been filled - they just needed to post it as an EEOC requirement. (do I agree with this practice? No, but it goes on all the time)

Here is the information...



The salary range for the position is from $43,000 to $50,000. I currently make $44,000. Can I negotiate for the higher salary range? How? What factors go into the agency's decision?


YES, you can negotiate certain financial benefits with the Human Resources Specialist who is handling your recruitment.

Each government job has a salary range and grade or pay bands. So there is a range that the HR Specialist and Supervisor may have in mind to offer you -- depending on your years of experience, specialized experience, and critical skills ... and the agency's budget. If the salary range is $43,000 to $50,000, you should have NO PROBLEM getting what you're currently making, $44,000, or even $48,000 for this job. I personally think that a person should strive for a minimum of a 10% increase for a new position.


People are interested in Federal jobs because of the outstanding benefits, retirement package, and job flexibility. There is nothing like a dependable paycheck to pay the monthly bills!

Here is the General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale page from www.usajobs.gov:


Also look at the Locality Pay Scales for your state here:


If you are offered a job as a GS-9, the first "step" in the Grade 9, according to the GS Pay Scale at the web address above, is: $37,390. The GS-9, Step 10 is: $48,604. So, you see, there is about a range you could possibly work with.

Ask For A Higher Step Within Grade

You do have the ability to negotiate your "step" within your Grade 9 level. You can request a Step 8, Step 10, or any step you choose, based upon one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Your past job pays $44,000 so you would like to receive a 10% raise for career development and advancement objectives.
  2. You have extensive costs involved in travel and relocation to the new position and need additional funds for travel (since they may NOT specifically pay for the relocation expenses).
  3. You believe that you have specialized experience that the agency will benefit from greatly, initially upon your hire into the position.
  4. You have critical skills, education, and abilities that will significantly enhance the agency's mission and office services.
  5. You have been offered a position by another firm and the starting salary will be $49,000 (or whatever might be true).
  6. You need a minimum of Step 10 ($48,604) since you will be relocating to a geographic area with a higher cost of living and will require additional income to support your family and needs.
  7. Any other good reason you can think of to justify why you should be paid higher.

Request for Tuition Reimbursement for Student Loans

Some agencies can pay up to $500 per month toward student loans. You can read about the government policy for hiring incentives and Tuition Reimbursement here:

Student Loan Repayment Program Questions and Answers

Bill Pushes Loans, Tuition Reimbursement

Federal Register Report:


U.S. Code:


Critical Hiring Need or Severe Shortage Recruitment Bonus Incentive

Some agencies may pay a Recruitment Bonus Incentive for Critical Skills or Severe Shortage positions. Each agency is different and some may have critical job shortages. The agency could pay up to 25% of the annual salary. You can read the definitions of Critical Hiring Need or Severe Shortage at:



Request for Relocation Allowance

If the vacancy announcement does not state that they will NOT pay for relocation, then you can ask if they will pay for relocation costs. If the announcement says that they WILL NOT pay for relocation, then you could not negotiate this point.


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