Position Announcement: Research Physical Scientist in NOAA's Arctic Research Program (ZP4/5)

Kelley Uhlig April 25, 2022


This is a Direct Hire Public Notice. Please read this Public Notice in its entirety prior to submitting your application for consideration.

This position is located in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing (GOMO) Program, with one vacancy in Silver Spring, MD.


  • Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL)

    Federal employees who meet the definition of a "surplus" or "displaced" employee.

  • The public


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

  • Serve as recognized world leader in preparing, coordinating, and directing the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research’s (OAR) Arctic research activities. Utilize specialized and advanced state-of-the art techniques to obtain fundamental knowledge in the assigned scientific field. Plan long-term experimental research investigations in the fields of chemistry, physics, and/or biology, relative to Arctic research.
  • Lead the development of major Arctic research projects. Devise and evaluate design approaches, including criteria, parameters, characteristics, and interrelationships. Direct teams and working groups and oversee assigned technical staff. Formulate guiding hypotheses determining appropriate research strategies and methodologies. Establish project objectives, develop research plans, establish performance measures, and devise time phases and milestones.
  • Define research areas by drawing on scientific expertise and experience and identifying specific problems. Identify scientific and technical resource requirements to support assigned project and programs. Find the most feasible approaches to resolving conflicting technical issues and unique problems.
  • Plan all facets of the Arctic research and testing program. Develop new theories that explain research results and lead to refinements and new concepts. Develop analytical processes and procedures, supplemental guidance, and standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Serve as recognized authority and consultant to scientific and technical personnel at other agencies, government contracts, and foreign countries. Collaborate on projects that advance the goals and objectives of the agency. Attend meetings and conferences and present technical papers before professional groups. Liaise with other laboratories, universities, industries, and foreign countries to exchange information. Serve as member of various committees and boards.

Note: The duties above are described at the full performance level of ZP-5; the ZP-4 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 (www.sss.gov)
  • 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 Moderate 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-4 is equivalent to the GS-13/14.

The ZP-5 is equivalent to the GS-15.

The full performance level of the position is ZP-5 or GS-15.Category Rating, Veterans Preference and traditional rating and ranking of applicants do not apply to this Public Notice.* A three-year probationary period may be required.* Payment of relocation expenses is not authorized.* This position is not in the bargaining unit. NOTE:*This Job Opportunity Announcement may be used to fill other Research Physical Scientist, ZP-1301-4/5 positions throughout NOAA. The position must be alike (e.g. within the same geographic locations, same grade/band and requires the same qualifications and specialized experience as indicated in this vacancy announcement).

Applicants must meet ALL application requirements, to include a complete online resume, by 11:59 p.m. EASTERN TIME (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.


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 at: https://www.opm.gov/policy.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS: This position has a positive Education Requirement in addition to at least one year of Specialized Experience in order to be found minimally qualified. Transcripts must be submitted with your application package. You MUST meet the following requirements:

To qualify for the 1301 series:


  1. 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.


  1. -- 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-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 in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

  • Contributing to the strategic leadership for an Earth science research project/program;
  • Developing and designing scientific research projects, such as establishing criteria, parameters, characteristics, and interrelationships; and
  • Performing theoretical and/or experimental research in the field of Earth science.

To qualify at the ZP-5 or GS-15 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-4 or GS-14 in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

  • Providing strategic leadership for and assisting with the direction of an Earth science research project/program;
  • Leading the development and design of scientific research projects, such as establishing criteria, parameters, characteristics, and interrelationships;
  • Planning and performing theoretical and/or experimental research in the fields of Earth science; and
  • Collaborating with internal and external groups (e.g., other agencies, contractors, laboratories, universities, or foreign countries) to advance the goals and objectives of a scientific organization.


Substitution of education for specialized experience is not applicable to this vacancy.

College Transcript:  If you are qualifying based on education, submit a copy of your college transcript that lists college courses detailing each course by the number and department (i.e., bio 101, math 210, etc.), course title, number of credit hours and grade earned. You must submit evidence that any education completed in a foreign institution is equivalent to U.S. education standards with your resume.   You may submit an unofficial copy of the transcript at the initial phase of the application process. If course content cannot be easily identified from the title of the course as listed on your transcript, you must submit an official course description from the college/university that reflects the content at the time the course was taken.Note: Your college transcript is used to verify successful completion of degree, or college course work.  An official college transcript will be required before you can report to duty.

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