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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Careers in ARS
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Scientific Careers
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The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is a satisfying, exciting, and professionally rewarding place for a research scientist and others working in mission critical research to work.

It’s satisfying because our research solves important problems. ARS research scientists provide new approaches and new technologies needed by consumers, producers, and industry. We design these approaches in a manner that is safe to our environment. We seek ways to produce more and better food and fiber, to control insect pests and weeds safely, to get food to consumers in better condition, to improve human nutrition and well-being, to help protect soil, water, and air, to improve animal health, and to find new uses for agricultural commodities.

It’s exciting because so much of our research is on the leading edge of science, in highly visible programs with broad public support. Current research involves biotechnology, including molecular biology, genetic engineering, bioinformatics and membrane research; application of theories of artificial intelligence to computer technology; innovative approaches to pest control through insect neurochemistry and use of pheromones. Each ARS scientist is employed because of his or her unique training and abilities as a researcher.

In addition to research scientists, ARS employs many individuals in the biological, physical, and engineering fields with bachelor’s or master’s degrees to support the agency research mission. Positions such as Biological Science Laboratory Technician, Agricultural Science Research Technicians, Physical Science Technicians, and others, provide direct support to research scientists in completing their scientific research projects. Support scientists are also hired to assist in projects by maintaining and conducting research directed by research scientists. These support scientists and research technicians are critical to the completion of the many research projects throughout ARS.

Major Scientific Occupations:

Agricultural Engineering Agronomy
Animal Science Biochemistry
Bioinformatics Biology
Chemistry Entomology
Food Science Genetics
Human Nutrition Hydrology
Immunology Microbiology
Molecular Biology Physical Science
Plant Science Soil Science
Veterinary Science Virology

Research Position Evaluation System

Grade levels for research scientist positions in ARS are set using the Research Position Evaluation System (RPES). The RPES is a peer review system based on the “person-in-the-job” concept. Under this concept, research scientists have open-ended promotion potential based on their personal research and leadership accomplishments, which can change the complexity and responsibility of their positions. For more information on the RPES process, visit the following website: http://www.afm.ars.usda.gov/rpes/index.html

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Postdoctoral Research Associate Program
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The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Postdoctoral Research Associate Program offers a unique opportunity for recent recipients of the doctoral degree (with no more than 3 years of other previous postdoctoral research experience preferred) to conduct critically needed basic research in association with some of the most prominent scientists in their field and also enables them to receive advanced and highly specialized training and experience that may not be available anywhere else.

The Program provides for short-term, non-career appointments to salaried positions on specific research projects. Applicants must have completed requirements for a Ph.D. degree before their employment. The agency usually hires research associates at the GS-11 or GS-12 grade levels. They earn vacation and sick leave at the same rate as all new employees in the Federal government. Associates with appointments of more than 1 year are also eligible for health and life insurance benefits.

For additional information on the ARS Postdoctoral Research Associate Program and a list of current opportunities, visit the website below: http://www.afm.ars.usda.gov/divisions/
hrd/hrdhomepage/vacancy/pd962.html

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Professional, Administrative, and Technical Careers
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Opportunities in professional, administrative, and technical occupations are varied, some requiring college degrees while many do not. ARS employs professional, administrative, and technical employees in the following occupational areas:

Administrative Management Facilities Management
Architecture and Engineering Human Resources
Budget and Finance Procurement and Contracting
Information Technology Public Affairs
Environmental Protection Safety and Health
Program Analysis Writing and Editing

Our professional, administrative, and technical employees are a critical part of our organization structure and are valuable to the accomplishment of our agency mission.

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Secretarial and Clerical Careers
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While the ARS mission relates to research, the mission could not be accomplished without the secretarial and clerical employees on our agency rolls. Opportunities for secretarial and clerical employees are numerous and the work is challenging.

ARS secretarial and clerical employees, while similar in the performance of some assignments, differ in responsibilities assigned from office to office and supervisor to supervisor. Some secretarial employees provide support to a few staff members in an office or unit, while others may provide support to a large number of staff members in an office or unit.

ARS secretarial and clerical employees perform assignments such as typing, editing, and proofreading of correspondence, reports, and manuscripts; preparing time and attendance documents for the staff; serving as the receptionist and first point of contact for visitors and callers; making travel arrangements and preparing travel related documents; planning and coordinating meetings and conferences; and assisting the supervisor and staff in completing the numerous administrative documents of the office. The secretarial and clerical employees throughout our organization are critical to the fulfillment of our agency mission and are a valuable part of our agency workforce.

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Trades and Crafts Careers
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Careers are available for positions which require knowledge or experience of a trade or craft nature. These positions are classified under the Federal Wage System (FWS) and assigned to a WG, WL, or WS pay scale. Pay is determined by local rates established rather than national. Specific qualifications, physical requirements, and working conditions vary by position.

Trades and crafts employees perform vital work in support of the mission of ARS. These employees perform functions such as maintaining air conditioning equipment in laboratories and offices; maintaining and repairing facilities where research is conducted; constructing equipment and materials; farming and gardening; operating tractors and plows; caring for animals; maintaining boiler plants and equipment; repairing utilities; operating motor vehicles; repairing and maintaining vehicles; operating textile equipment; and cleaning and maintaining facilities.

The trades and crafts employees throughout our organization are critical to the fulfillment of our agency mission and are a valuable part of our agency workforce.

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Careers at the National Agricultural Library
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The National Agricultural Library (NAL) is one of four National Libraries in the United States and is the largest agriculture library in the world. Its mission is to ensure and enhance access to agricultural information for a better quality of life. NAL acquires, organizes, manages, preserves, and provides access to information and provides quality stewardship of its unique collection. In addition to providing services based on its collection of printed materials, the Library has led the development of electronic information services for more than thirty years.

NAL offers employment opportunities to individuals who have degrees in Library Science, as well as Technical Information Specialists, Computer Specialists, Library Technicians, and support staff.

Visit the NAL website: http://www.nal.usda.gov

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Last Modified: 3/19/2010