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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Types of Appointments
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Types of Appointments:

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Research Scientists and Engineers:

Research scientists conduct cutting-edge research in a number of agriculturally-related fields, and ARS scientists have been involved in a number of remarkable discoveries and patents.  In addition to working in exciting and rewarding scientific endeavors, ARS/PA scientists enjoy competitive pay and benefits and up-to-date research facilities. Nearly 300 scientists are employed in the Plains Area, and there are typically anywhere from one to half a dozen or so vacancies at any given time.  Check the ARS Careers Website for current openings (

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Postdoctoral Research Associates (post-docs):

The PA also offers post-doc positions, to candidates who have completed all requirements for the Ph.D (preferably within four years of accepting a post-doc).  Post-doc positions are available for up to two years, and the pay and benefits are highly competitive.  Check the ARS Careers Website for current openings ( 

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Administrative, Technical, Clerical, and Trades:

The PA employs talented individuals in a wide variety of occupations, including technicians, secretaries, information technology, and administration.  Vacancies are listed on the ARS careers website.  To learn more about job categories, and to view thousands of federal vacancies, click on the following website:

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Term and Competitive Temporary Appointments:

Term Appointments

  • TERM appointments may be from 13 months up to a maximum of 4 years
  • It is imperative that when making the appointment, the selecting official is conservative in how long to make the appointment. TERM employees may not be terminated before their NTE date since it requires a Reduction in Force (RIF) action.
  • TERM appointment vacancies must be announced for a minimum of five days; open to U. S. citizens only.
  • Appropriate uses of the TERM authority:
    • To carry out special project work
    • To staff new or existing programs of limited duration
    • To fill positions in units in the process of being closed
    • To replace permanent employees who have been assigned to other positions, are on extended leave, or who have entered military service
  • Remark for SF-52. Be sure to include “Appointment may be extended for up to a total of 4 years without further competition”. Without this remark, the position will have to be re-announced in order to extend.
  • Attach a justification memo
    • Pay and Benefits for Employees With Regularly Scheduled Tours of Duty:
      • Paid Leave and Holidays
      • Health and Life Insurance eligibility
      • FERS Retirement and TSP eligibility
      • Within Grade Increases
      • Position may have promotion potential
      • Does not confer status for permanent positions

Temporary Appointments (Competitive)

  • A non-status appointment in the competitive service not to exceed 1 year
  • Position may be extended for one additional year only
  • Pay and Benefits With Regularly Scheduled Tours of Duty:
    • Paid Leave and Holidays
    • Ineligible for health insurance unless extended into the second year. During second year, employee is responsible for total cost

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Excepted Service (Non-Competitive Appointments) Limited Authority (LA):

130-Day Appoinmtent Information:

  • Information:
    • Everything that applies to 180-day appointments applies to 130-day appointments, except if you do not allow the employee to exceed 130 days in a pay status during a service year the position may be refilled any number of times.
  • Pay and Benefits
    • Paid leave and holidays for people with regularly scheduled tours of duty.

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180-Day Appoinmtent Information:

  • Information: Temporary appointments for technicians and some wage grade employees only, up to GS-7 or WG-10 levels only. This appointment authority MAY NOT be used to hire clerical employees.
    • Appointments may be made for up to 180 days or limited to 130 days.
    • All time for which an employee is paid counts against the appointment limitation. If an employee works one hour of a day it counts as a whole day or if he/she is paid for a holiday it counts against appointment limitation.  If an employee uses leave, it also counts against appointment limitation.
    • If an employee works between 130 and 180 days, then appointment may be renewed for one additional year only. After that it must be abolished even if there is a new incumbent.
    • An employee may not work more than 180 days during a service year. Example: An employee receives a new 180-day appointment on August 2nd. From August 2nd of the year of hire until August 1st of the following year, the employee may not be in a pay status more than 180 days. Using the same example, if an employee comes on board initially on August 2nd, quits in December of the same year and then returns before August, then his/her service year continues to be August 2nd and when he/she returns to work you continue the count of days worked from where it left off in December. The employee begins a new service year only after a break in service of more than one year.

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Pathways (Student Positions):

  • Student positions in ARS are now called Pathways and include three components:
    • Pathways Interns: allows students to be exposed to the work of the Government through Federal internships while pursuing their degree.
    • Recent Graduates: for individuals who have completed a qualifying educational program within the preceding 2 years (with exceptions for certain veterans and individuals graduating after December 27, 2010). It provides developmental opportunities for recent graduates.
    • Presidential Management Fellows (PMF): a flagship leadership development program at the entry level for individuals who are currently completing an advanced degree program (e.g., graduate or professional degree), or who completed the educational requirements for an advanced degree within the preceding 2 years.

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Last Modified: 5/18/2015
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