Last Updated on 01/13/2023

In early 2021, the U.S. President signed a spending bill that approved a 1% raise for all government employees working on the GS pay scale. The United States Government pay scale determines the salary ranges for workers in most technical, administrative, clerical, and professional civilian positions.

The transparency of the government job pay scale of 2023 enables job applicants to gain a clear idea of what they can expect to earn. 

Most years, the federal government assigns a system-wide cost-of-living pay increase for GS workers. The raise applies regardless of GS level and is meant to keep government salaries reasonably competitive with the private job sector. 

According to the federal Office of Personnel Management, the GS pay scale determines the pay for a large share of the 1.5 million U.S. government civilian workers worldwide. 

Compensation ranges are based on:

  • Technical demands of the job
  • Educational requirements
  • Level of responsibility
  • Employee qualifications

The numerous agencies within the government determine the GS level of pay that applies to their job positions. In addition to basic criteria, agencies may choose GS pay levels that make their positions competitive on the broader job market. 

Regional Differences in Federal Employee Pay Scale

The USA government pay scale recognizes that costs of living differ throughout the United States, its territories, and other foreign locales. Data analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics guide the adjustments made to locality pay rates. The government has established 47 locality pay areas throughout the states and territories. 

Major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or New York form 44 of the locality pay areas. Because of the locality pay rates, the same positions might pay somewhat different salaries in various areas of the country. Geographic areas that have trouble attracting qualified job candidates might gain approval for special rates that authorize higher salaries beyond standard pay ranges. 

What is your salary range? When researching job opportunities, people can identify the exact salary ranges for specific localities by using this pay calculator.

The job seeker will need to pull the government GS level from the job posting and the location to enter the necessary information into the calculator. The calculator currently displays results for the federal GS pay scale 2023

What Does GS Mean in Government Jobs?

GS stands for General Schedule. This government employee pay scale designates the earnings for over 70% of federal civilian employees. Fifteen grades form the GS with GS-1 being the lowest paying grade and GS-15 being the highest paying grade. The GS grade for a job posting will be prominently displayed on job postings. 

Within each grade, the schedule assigns 10 steps. Every step represents a higher level of pay within the grade and equals roughly 3% of an employee’s pay. After a waiting period, workers could qualify for a higher step of pay within their grade as long as performance has been good. 

  • To ascend through steps 1, 2, and 3 requires waiting periods of 1 year between each increase. 
  • The waiting periods stretch to 2 years to achieve step increases between steps 4 and 6.
  • To gain raises for steps 7 through 9, the waiting period is 3 years. 

A worker generally needs to put in 18 years of service to progress through all 10 steps of a pay grade. Employees with outstanding performance reviews could have the opportunity to advance through the steps at a faster rate. 

Highly qualified job candidates might succeed at negotiating a job offer that starts their pay at a higher step within their pay grade. Outstanding credentials could help a person skip the lower pay steps from the beginning.

Government GS Levels

The lowest GS grades have the least educational or technical requirements. Every increase in GS grade raises the qualifications and educational credentials necessary to qualify for the job.

Starting at GS-5 federal level jobs, applicants will usually need a bachelor’s degree.

Positions at or above GS-9 grade level in the federal service will generally demand that applicants have a master’s degree or Ph.D. 


It is a very entry-level position, so jobs in this category don’t even require a high school diploma. GS-1 job postings tend to be temporary positions held by interns or teenagers working summer jobs. Also, GS 1 is equivalent to the E-1 lowest military rank, which called “private” (soldier of the lowest military rank).

For an hour, the minimum payment is only $9.67. Therefore, the annual salary at such jobs by OPM pay tables varies from $20,999 (step 1) to $26,273 (step 10). However, the actual payment due to federal pay raise 2023 may be much higher (this applies to all scales), depending on the region of residence. It will rely on the local cost-of-living arrangement.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


Most often, workers from the first-level position move to GS 2 by the career ladder. Thus, having a minimum of 1-year work experience, the employee can move to a new level with a higher salary.

But this position implies the high-school diploma presence. So, students who began to work before graduation can go to the second level already after receiving a school certificate. For example, it can be guide jobs, computer clerk, dental assistant, and others. Basic salaries within the 10 steps will range from $23,612 to $29,716 for a full-time worker.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


Applicants can move to the 3rd paygrade by the same scenario as from the 1st to the 2nd, having minimum 1-year work experience at the GS-2 level. As well as if the applicant has more months of general practice, he or she can qualify for the GS-3 as a start position. If to compare Military Rank to Civilian equivalency, the GS3 is equal to E3 Private First Class.

GS 3 federal pay standard for full-time employees varies between $25,764 and $33,495, with minimal $11.86 per hour payment. For the most part, GS-3 vacancies are accessible for novice assistants and technicians of different specializations. Such places are often taken by college students who want to gain experience during training.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


Recruiters for GS-4 positions will want to see applicants with Associate’s Degrees. Besides degree, the potential employee should have at least 1 year of experience at the GS-3 or equivalent. Same as GS-3, the most popularized 4th paygrade vacancies are available for different technicians and assistants, but with already received a college diploma. GS-4 civilian government worker equals E-4 at the U.S. Army, ranked Specialist or Corporal. GS 4 pay currently ranges between $28,921 at the 1st step and $37,597 at the 10th.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


Jobs at this grade predominantly go to people with an Associate’s Degree and standard 1-year job experience at GS 4. This paygrade level is almost no different from the previous one. It is the typical career ladder, when with each year of accumulated knowledge, the employee may qualify for the promotion. Thus, the annual salary can increase by several thousand dollars a year. The initial yearly wage at this level will be no less than $32,357 when maximum pay is about $42,068. E-5 military personnel ranked as Sergeant is almost identical to the civilian 5th paygrade.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


Qualified job candidates must have a Bachelor’s Degree or an Associate’s Degree with relevant experience. Many gs 6 paygrade vacancies are already open for young Bachelor graduates who were working while studying, gaining practice, and acquiring the necessary skills.

It is a great option to get a decent salary of $36,070 per year right after the end of the study. Annual GS 6 pay can be $46,888 at max. In the US army, all three levels E-6, E-7, and E-9 are considered equal to the civilian 6th payscale.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


GS 7 is the last paygrade, which marks as an entry-level job position. The 7th level positions require no lower than Bachelor’s Degrees and 1 year of professional experience.

On Step 1, the worker gains at least $19.21 per hour (depends on location). Base gs 7 pay starts between $40,082 and $52,106. Today, many recruiters, programmers, secretaries, engineers, and analysts are working at this level for 2-3 years.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


GS 8 opens mid-level job positions, which mostly intended for white-collar employees. White collars work in different organizations at professional, administrative, managerial positions. They also play management roles and develop business strategies in companies.

However, GS 8 is the very initial stage for white-collar employees. And of course, the main requirements are a Bachelor’s Degree and official 1-year working experience. By the gs pay scale 2023, salary steps progress from $44,389 to $57,709. In the military, the rank of First Lieutenant is roughly equated to gs-8.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


For these positions, recruiters will look for candidates with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. And of course, as with all previous levels, at the 9th paygrade minimum requirement is 1-year work at the previous level.

Hourly payment starts from $23.49, when and the modest figure for the month will be $3,840. GS 9 pay scale range between $47,097 and $61,227 per year. Naturally, such positions imply only full time, most often office-based jobs.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10
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Positions are reserved for candidates with Master’s Degrees and year job experience at equal to gs-9 scale. There are several of the most popular occupations by “opm gs pay scale”: accountant or auditor, medical or health services manager, civil engineer, real estate appraiser or assessor, and database administrator. Such professions require a prestigious education, appropriate knowledge, and high-level skills.

Max GS 10 salary per month is $4,499, and annual varies from $53,990 to $70,190. In the U.S. Army, gs-10 is equal to Captain rank (O-3).

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


This level is not much different from the 10th, but the person needs to have stronger knowledge and more impressive experience. It also requires a Master’s Degree and year of work at the previous level.

Though an hourly charge is almost on $3 more, the annual gs 11 pay scale would be $59,319 for the beginner and about $77,112 for the proficient employer

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


In General Schedule, the 12th scale is the last one mid-level position. Best position white-collar employees are frequently well educated, have a higher social class, have better skills, and many years of professional experience.

Officially to apply this position person should have a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. and a career trial. Most of the employees must have a vast number of skills like leadership, time management, public speaking, foreign languages, and many others. By the gs 12 pay scale, employees may earn from $71,099 to $92,429.  

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


From the 13th level, positions become Career Competitive. That’s mean that all these positions must be public, and registered on so that any U.S. citizen can apply.

For Gs-13 workplaces or above, most companies and organizations have a limited number of jobs. Such positions include a team-leading roles, which have about 10-15 people in submission. The Master’s degree and 1 year of working at an equal to gs-12 workplace are a minimum for all candidates. GS 13 pay scale vary between $84,546 and $109,908 per year.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


These are positions of top-level as prime professionals, high-level specialists, and supervisors with advanced degrees. So, only a giant career trial, along with a Ph.D., will qualify job seekers for GS-14 jobs.

With today’s technological advances, elite technicians, top developers, and best engineers of different directions may claim on the gs 14 pay scale places and can be equated to a university professor level. 14th grade is open for scientists and researchers who are successful in their field, or who start research in vital areas. Annual salary starts from $99,908 and can reach $129,878.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10


GS-15 is the highest federal job position that exists at the moment, named Senior Level Service (SES). GS 15 job places are only available for senior administration positions, as well as for the government’s most significant researchers. The applicant must have at least 1-year work experience at GS-13 or GS-14 and a Ph.D.

The hourly pay of a GS-15 employee is $56.31 per hour. But the salary is limited to the Executive Schedule at level V and starts at $117,518 per year. The most significant annual federal wage in 2023 is $152,771.

The G.S.15 pay scale also varies according to location. In the D.C. area, getting promoted to GS-13, 14, or 15 is far easier because half of the jobs at those grades are still not occupied.

GS GradeStep 1Step 2Step 3Step 4Step 5Step 6Step 7Step 8Step 9Step 10

When people know the government pays a grade scale that they could qualify for, it could help them target jobs that they have the best chance of getting. The public nature of the government GS pay scale system grants people the ability to understand how their compensation could increase during a career.

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Professional resume writer Daniella HendersonDaniella Henderson

Daniella knows all ins and outs of the federal hiring process. She is excellent at job hunting strategies, starting from federal resume writing to the final stage of interview conduction.
1 Comment
  1. Avatar

    Me seeing government gs pay scale dramatically increasing in 2020: It Was At This Moment That He Knew He Made it.
    Currently I’m struggling with my doctoral dissertation and enviously glance towards GS-9.
    You have a very good article, especially I want to note a detailed description of Government GS Levels. Thank you for keeping the information up-to-date, because I tried to calculate my possible income using the pay calculator you mentioned, but it turned out that there is old data that does not assume a 2.6% GS pay raise for 2020.

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