Looking for help now?
Contact your local Health Safety & Work Life Regional Practice or CG SUPRT 24/7/365.
The Overall Classification Process:
Position classification is a process through which Federal positions are
assigned to a pay system, series, title, and grade or band, based on
consistent application of position classification standards. Classification
determinations are based on the work assigned to positions by the
responsible management official; the complexity of the work; the level of
assigned responsibility; the outcome of products and/or services; the
knowledge and skills necessary to successfully perform the assigned work;
and the proper application of applicable position classification guidelines
such as standards and functional guides.
The grade determining factors in position classification do NOT include any
of the following: the education and/or certification level of the employee
in the position; difficulty in recruiting for the position; how well the
employee performs the work; the accuracy and honesty required of the
employee by the position; the volume of the work produced by the employee in
the position; duties performed in the absence of another employee; the
employee's length of service; or the employee's security clearance.
The major duties and responsibilities of a position are analyzed and
evaluated using position classification standards and guides issued by the
Office of Personnel Management (OPM). These standards and guides are
available to all Federal employees at
http://www.opm.gov/fedclass/index.htm. Applying OPM principles and
rules, the Human Resources (HR) Specialist determines the proper title,
series, and grade. When a position includes major duties evaluated at
different grade levels, the final title, series, and grade are normally
assigned based upon the highest level work assigned to and performed by the
employee for the majority of time. In some instances, a major duty that is
performed at least 25 percent or more of an employee's work time may be
title, series, and grade determining.
Position classification standards, guides, and job family standards are the
evaluation tools issued by the Office of Personnel Management to be used by
the HR Specialist when evaluating the work of positions. Standards and
guides document the grade level criteria for work and provide the basis for
the assignment of a title, series and grade. A position classification
standard typically applies to a single occupation such as Secretary or
Contract Specialist. A guide addresses work that is not occupation-specific
and applies to work performed by a number of occupations.
A mixed position has major duties that are covered by more than one position
classification standard or guide. Each type of work must be evaluated using
the most applicable position classification standard, guide, or job family
Positions are classified based upon the work assigned. It is important to
note that it is the position that is classified, not the person in the job.
There are several possible reasons why apparently similar positions are
classified differently. The positions are actually different. While the
tasks might seem to be similar, the complexity of the work, as well as the
level of responsibility, authority, level of contacts, purpose of contacts,
and so on, are different and justify different classifications. The
description of one of the positions may be inaccurate, outdated or
classified incorrectly. As a result, the classification of every position
should be based on and comparison with relevant OPM classification
standards, not with other positions in the organization. OPM specifically
prohibits position-to-position comparisons in making classification
Job Grading Standards:
Job Grading Standards are position classification standards for the Federal
Wage System (FWS). The FWS applies to trades, crafts, and manual labor
positions in the Federal Government. Job Grading standards and functional
guides are official OPM publications for use in classifying FWS positions.
FWS Job Grading Standards cover single occupations and FWS Functional Guides
consist of classification guidance that cover multiple occupations
Difference between Classification and Qualifications:
"Classification" and "qualifications” are terms people often confuse. Here
is a key way to clarify the difference between the terms "classification"
and "qualifications". Classification pertains to a position or job and the
evaluation process that determines the appropriate pay system, occupational
series, title, and grade/pay band. Qualifications pertain to a person and
describe the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities a person needs to be
eligible for and successful in a job/position or a particular occupation.
OPM publishes minimum qualifications for white collar jobs in the Federal
service in the OPM Operating Manual of Qualifications Standards for General
Schedule Positions. For positions in the Federal Wage System (FWS), OPM
provides guidance on qualification requirements in The Job Qualifications
System for Trades and Crafts Occupations. HR specialists use these manuals
to determine whether applicants meet the minimum requirements for positions
being filled in the Federal service. These manuals are not intended to
provide detailed information about the specific qualification requirements
for individual positions. Such information, e.g., a description of the
specialized experience requirements for a particular position, is normally
included in the vacancy announcement that Federal agencies issue when they
have a position to fill.