Welcome to Career Development
What is Career Development
For many blue-collar occupations that have private sector counterparts, applicants can be and often are hired at the full-performance level. For other blue-collar occupations that are more unique to the Government, applicants are typically hired at an entry level grade and then through an apprentice or other career development program advance noncompetitively to the full-performance or journey level. Individuals who are not in developmental positions must typically compete for each promotion to higher level positions. Although these entry and advancement processes are not unlike those for many white-collar employees, developmental programs or career tracks tend to be considerably less common among blue- than white-collar occupations.
Nonsupervisory employees at the full-performance or journey level who wish to advance may compete to become inspectors (also a WG position, but one that is usually at a higher grade level) or work leaders (in the WL pay schedule). Work leaders are nonsupervisors, who in addition to their journey-level work, have duties that include passing on supervisor instructions to other workers, demonstrating proper work methods, and ensuring that needed materials are available, that there is enough work, and that work is progressing on schedule. Work leaders are paid 10 percent above the WG pay schedule. Unlike supervisors (who are in the WS pay schedule), work leaders do not plan, schedule, and direct work operations; evaluate and rate subordinates on their work; or deal with employee complaints, suggestions, and grievances. Work leaders may compete for and progress through various levels of supervisor, depending on the size of the installation. Supervisors are compensated at least 30 percent above the WG pay schedule, depending on the grade levels and variety of employees supervised.
In addition to progressing through the WL and WS career paths, blue-collar employees may advance by competing for openings in related blue-collar occupations, such as planners, estimators, examiners, and schedulers. Sometimes, blue-collar employees advance by qualifying and competing for position vacancies in related white-collar occupations, such as technician, quality assurance specialist, equipment specialist, production controller, or training instructor.
Although each of these various advancement options offers opportunities for increased pay and responsibility, the availability of the options is often limited, particularly at the smaller installations. The range of opportunities available will vary considerably by the type of occupation, the grade level, and the number of applicants competing for available openings. Generally, opportunities for advancement decrease as the occupations are more specialized, have fewer or lower graded levels, or have many applicants for few vacancies.
Federal Blue Collar Employees: A Workforce in Transition, A Report to the President & the Congress of the United States by the Merit Systems Protection Board, 1992
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