Job Terminology Glossary

Name (Sorted descending) Term Description
General Schedule(GS)

The classification and pay system for Title 5 employees. The pay structure for the General Schedule has 15 grade levels, with 10 step rates (steps 1-10) that are each worth approximately three percent of the employee’s salary. Positions are classified using government-wide standards to determine their proper occupational series, title, and grade within the General Schedule. (OPM Pay & Leave and 5 USC 5332)


A level of work or range of difficulty, responsibility and qualification requirements. (5 USC 5102)

Grade Interval

The terms “two-grade interval” and “one-grade interval” refer to the differing patterns of career advancement through a sequence of General Schedule grades. The two basic patterns reflect a basic distinction between the two general kinds of white-collar work covered by the General Schedule. Two-grade interval work is typical in the professional and administrative occupational categories, and promotions are granted in the two-grade increments from grades GS-5 through 11 and in one-grade increments at GS-12 and beyond. One-grade interval work is typical in the clerical and technical occupational categories, and promotions are granted in one-grade increments.

These two labels perform roughly the same function that “exempt” and “non-exempt” tend to have in the private sector as a short-hand way to distinguish higher level “professional” work and lower level clerical and technical work. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) did not apply to the Federal Government when the General Schedule was established. Therefore, the FLSA categories do not serve, in the Federal compensation environment, as a basic distinction upon which the pay structure is built. (OPM Introduction to the Position Classification Standards p. (8-9))