Ocean Career: Physical Scientist at NOAA Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

This position is located in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), Weather Program Office (WPO). This position is being advertised for one vacancy, located in Silver Spring, MD, or a location that is negotiable upon selection.


This is a TERM appointment. Appointments to this position, however, will not convey permanent status in the Federal service and will be for a period not to exceed (NTE) 13 months and may be extended up to 4 years without further competition.

As a Physical Scientist, you will perform the following duties:

  • Provide scientific responsibility for assigned programs, projects, or special tasks involving scientific studies and analyses. Develop data applications, systems, and reporting procedures designed to collect and assess scientific information in support of programs or projects including those from NOAA supplemental appropriations.
  • Serve as technical expert in investigating and assessing a variety of complex atmospheric science problems or situations. Develop and/or advise on new techniques in support of analytical study activities. Coordinate and develop new precedents and guidelines using advanced scientific techniques. Integrate emerging technologies into program systems and concepts.
  • Define technical problems requiring study and/or solution. Plan and develop advanced scientific and technical studies and evaluations within assigned programs. Provide guidance to subordinates and ensure that end products meet specifications and requirements. Analyze, assess, and present recommendations on the impact of changes. Develop scopes of work and performance requirements.
  • Serve as the division’s technical representative on panels, committees, and conferences. Make significant contributions toward resolving actual or potential problems relative to assignments. Prepare and perform briefings and presentations to support program reviews.

These duties are described at the full performance level of the ZP-4; the ZP-3 is developmental leading to such performance.


Conditions of Employment

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or National to apply.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be suitable for Federal employment.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable
  • Qualifications requirements must be met by closing date of announcement.

Due to COVID-19, the agency is currently in an expanded telework posture. NOAA received notice of reintegration to occur on April 25, 2022. As employees are permitted to return to the office, you will need to follow management’s guidelines on the expectation of reporting to the duty station listed on this announcement. You may be eligible to request to telework depending upon the terms of the agency’s telework policy.

This position requires a Low Risk Security Clearance.

This position will be filled under the DOC Alternative Personnel System (CAPS). This system replaced the Federal GS pay plan and structure. Under CAPS, positions are classified by career, pay plan, and pay band.

The ZP-3 is equivalent to the GS-11/12.

The ZP-4 is equivalent to the GS-13/14.

The full performance level of the position is ZP-4 or GS-14.


Qualification requirements in the vacancy announcements are based on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualification Standards Handbook, which contains federal qualification standards. This handbook is available on the Office of Personnel Management's website located here.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS: This position requires applicants to meet a Basic Education Requirement in addition to at least one year of specialized experience OR substitution of education for experience OR combination (if applicable) in order to be found minimally qualified. You MUST meet one of the following basic education requirements:

To qualify for the 1301 series: EDUCATION:

A. Degree: physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics.


B. Combination of education and experience: education equivalent to one of the majors shown in A above that included at least 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: Applicants must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent in difficulty and responsibility to the next lower grade level in the Federal Service. Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position. This experience need not have been in the federal government.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

To qualify at the ZP-3 or GS-11 level:

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: In addition to meeting the Basic Requirements above, applicants must also possess one full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZP-2 or GS-09 level in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

Conducting scientific data analysis and supporting quality assurance of data; Assisting with tracking progress of scientific studies and effectively communicating findings.


SUBSTITUTION OF EDUCATION: 3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree.


COMBINATION OF EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: A combination of education and experience as described above. NOTE: Only graduate education in excess of two years is qualifying for combination.

To qualify at the ZP-4 or GS-13 level:

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: In addition to meeting the Basic Requirements above, applicants must also possess one full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZP-3 or GS-12 level in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

Assisting with the planning, organization, and execution of a scientific program; Facilitating the development and evaluation of atmospheric science research to support the development of new tools and techniques; and Representing a scientific organization on panels, committees, and/or conferences.

Salary: $56,983 - $164,102 per year
Application deadline: August 15, 2022

Learn more about this position and how to apply.

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