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Blue Collar Government Jobs – Wage Grade (WG) -

The government’s Personnel Classification System includes Wage Grade occupations grouped into families of like jobs for blue collar workers. The 36 occupational families range from WG-2500 to WG-9000.

Each occupational family has a three-part identifier: the pay system, occupational group number, and title. For example, under the WG-4200 PLUMBING and PIPEFITTING FAMILY there are three occupations listed, pipe fitting (WG-4204), plumbing (WG-4206) and fuel Distribution System Mechanic (WG-4255). WG identifies the Wage Grade Schedule (or blue collar) pay system and there is a unique number for each of the three occupations listed under this occupational family. Review the description for each occupational Wage Grade family and the jobs within that group online. You will find links to USAJOBS listings with each occupational title.

Because of the scope and variety of Federal Government operations, and the continuing changes taking place in occupations, a separate occupation is not always established for each identifiable line of work. The “01” code in each job family, therefore, is designated as a general code, and is used for jobs which cannot be identified with an established occupation within the family but which can be identified with the family itself.

If your specific occupation isn’t listed in the related family, you would search for occupations with the 01 code. For example, the 2600 – ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE FAMILY lists 6 occupations including 2601 which is titled “General Electronic Equipment Installation and Maintenance.” If you worked in this general area but your job title isn’t listed, search the 2601 series or by the specific title of the occupation. Most seeking employment on USAJOBS will not know the job series numbers, search by the occupational title and options will pop up with the various types of jobs available using that skill set.

There were 193,700 Wage Grade workers in 2020 with 2,715 working overseas and in the U.S. Territories. The largest employers include the Department of Navy hiring 45,412 followed by the Department of the Army with 40,439, and the Department of the Air Force with 49,167. The largest non-military employer is the Department of Veterans Affairs with 33,344. All but three of the cabinet level agencies hire Wage Grade employees.

The Federal Wage System (FWS)

The Federal Wage System (FWS) is a uniform pay-setting system that covers blue-collar employees who are paid by the hour and classified as Wage Grade (WG) employees. The system ensures that Federal trade, craft, and laboring employees within a local wage area who perform the same duties receive the same rate of pay. The FWS includes 130 appropriated fund and 118 nonappropriated fund local wage areas.

The FWS system pays employees according to local prevailing rates. The regular pay plan covers most trade, craft, and laboring employees in the executive branch. The FWS does not cover Postal Service employees, legislative branch employees, or employees of private sector contracting firms.

Nonappropriated fund wage grade areas are reserved for Department of Defense agencies that employ workers at post exchanges, military clubs and recreation services. These positions are not in the competitive service and are funded by the revenue generated by the exchanges and clubs. Applications for these jobs must be submitted to the individual agencies or personnel offices.

WG Pay Schedules

The Department of Defense (DOD) is the lead agency responsible for conducting Federal Wage System (FWS) wage surveys and issuing wage schedules. DOD’s Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service maintains a website with all FWS wage schedules. You can check the wage rates for your area on their service. The areas are complex to navigate through due to the many variables available.

For example, I clicked on Pennsylvania and then then selected regular area from the drop-down list with three options: floating plant, lock and dam, or regular. The regular area would apply to most; then I selected county. I selected Allegheny County and then you must select between schedule or schedule back. I selected schedule and clicked on the most recent date. This produced a schedule for the Pittsburgh, PA area. If you wanted to know what the WG schedule is for lock and dam workers, you would have had to select that option. There are dams in the three rivers surrounding Pittsburgh.

The pay schedules are divided into two categories: Appropriated Fund (AF), and Nonappropriated Fund (NAF). Currently, the issuance of Appropriated and Nonappropriated Fund (NAF) Federal Wage System (FWS) pay schedules effective in FY 2022 will be delayed until the FY 2022 pay limitations are released. When issued, it is anticipated that pay schedules will be retroactive to their normal effective date.

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About the Author

This article was written by Dennis V. Damp, the creator of Dennis is a retired federal manager, business owner, career counselor and veteran.

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