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    The U.S.  Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works to protect the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources.  APHIS, International Services (IS) supports this mission in an international environment by safeguarding the health of animals, plants, and ecosystems in the United States; facilitating safe agricultural trade; ensuring effective and efficient management of internationally-based programs; and investing in international capacity-building through training programs that enhance technical, administrative, and diplomatic skills and competencies.  APHIS' international mission is to protect and promote U.S.  agricultural health through internationally based animal and plant health expertise.

    APHIS IS seeks candidates for the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) training and employment initiative. Upon completion of the training program and fulfillment of mandatory qualifications, and concurrence of APHIS senior leadership, the successful candidates will enter the APHIS FS workforce. The training program is headquartered (duty station) in Riverdale (MD).  Occasional travel may take place to other APHIS offices located around the United States – Washington (DC), Fort Collins (CO), Ames (IA), and Raleigh (NC), as well as other areas in which APHIS conducts its business.  In addition, the capstone of the training will include a temporary tour of duty assignment for the candidate of up to a month at an APHIS international post to experience the actual duties of an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO). 

    Salary Information:  First time hires to the Federal government normally start at the lowest rate of the salary range for the grade selected. 

    This is a term appointment not to exceed 24 months, although trainee appointments may be extended up to a total of four years. For more details click: Term Appointments

    APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response

    Learn more about this agency


    In a developmental capacity, the incumbent is expected to accomplish the skills and abilities below under the general supervision of the Program supervisor, with input from APHIS Subject Matter Experts:

    • Works to understand the duties and responsibilities associated with the APHIS Foreign Service that supports the APHIS and USDA mission and goals.
    • Works effectively with other APHIS program areas, USDA agencies, and Federal agencies to develop working relationships and gain knowledge of all aspects of APHIS’ international mission. 
    • Completes diplomatic, technical and management training requirements by assigned due dates. 
    • Participates in the analysis of agricultural conditions, government policies, and regulatory processes affecting the agricultural market and import/export interests of U.S.  stakeholders.
    • Participates in the compilation, review, and analysis of technical reports on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues and their effects, as well as economic, market, technical and data relating, but not limited to, production, trade, consumption, prices and other factors affecting the safeguarding of U.S. agriculture. 
    • Addresses specific phytosanitary concerns with host countries. 
    • Manages international phytosanitary trade issues with APHIS programs. 
    • Participates in identifying disciplines and multi-disciplinary mixes for risk assessment/hazard evaluation of plant pest mitigation measures; and animal health issues in order to instill a proactive approach to U.S. goals in international trade. 
    • Prepares briefing memoranda, correspondence, briefing books, market profiles and other background information for APHIS, USDA, and other entities on a variety of subjects. 
    • Participates in the identification, monitoring, and removal of technical, sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to agricultural trade. 
    • Researches, prepares, and offers advice to identify plant and animal pest/disease alerts, new regulations, and other updates affecting SPS trade issues.
    • Develops effective working relationships with international and domestic agricultural industry representatives, trade associations, cooperators, international organizations, and other APHIS stakeholders. 
    • Works to implement agricultural capacity building and development activities to enhance trade and food security objectives.
    • Coordinates and facilitates duties related to import/export of animals and their byproducts. 
    • Follows and supports equal opportunity and civil rights policies, performing assigned duties in full compliance with equal opportunity, civil rights laws and regulations.
    • Performs other duties as assigned.

    Travel Required

    75% or less - Domestic and international travel may be required to complete program.

    Supervisory status


    Promotion Potential


    Who May Apply

    This job is open to…

    US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required.

    Questions? This job is open to 1 group.

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    Conditions Of Employment

    • US Citizenship is required
    • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959
    • Expenses associated with the Assessment Center will not be paid
    • Successful completion of a 1 year probationary or trial period
    • Position is subject to random and applicant drug testing

    Special Conditions:

    • Foreign Service Officers (FSO) must retire at the age of 65, with at least 5 years of service in the FS.  The training program is 2 years in length.  Overseas tours of duty for FSO's are generally 3 years.
    • Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation.
    • Travel, transportation, and relocation expenses will not be paid. Any travel, transportation, and relocation expense associated with reporting for duty to this position will be the responsibility of the selected employee.
    • This position is eligible for telework within the local commuting area of the duty location of the position. Employee participation in telework is at the discretion of the supervisor.
    • Members of the FS shall be obligated to serve abroad and shall be expected to serve abroad for substantial portions of their careers.  A member of the Foreign Service may not be assigned to duty within the United States for any period of continuous service exceeding eight years without the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture.  Members of the Foreign Service are expected to serve worldwide based on the needs of the Agency, this includes situations when family members may not be able to accompany the employee to post.
    • For Federal candidates, there will be NO reinstatement rights with APHIS if the candidate is not assigned to the APHIS FS.  APHIS employees should guarantee, prior to starting this FSTP, that they will have reinstatement rights to their APHIS program unit.  For non-Federal candidates, APHIS will have no continuation of employment responsibility should they not complete the program successfully.
    • This position requires you to obtain and maintain a "Class One" world-wide medical clearance issued by the U.S. Department of State as a condition of employment.
    • You must be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret security clearance as a condition of employment.
    • Upon acceptance into the APHIS Foreign Service, all candidates will be required to sign a world-wide availability agreement.
    • The ability to speak, read, and write a foreign language is preferred, but not required.
    • This position serves in a developmental capacity performing assignments which are designed to prepare the candidate to be laterally transferred to the position of Agriculturalist (Foreign Service Officer), FP-0401-04 (GS-12 equivalent), at an APHIS foreign post.


    Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including the following specialized experience and/or education, as identified by grade level.


    Degree: biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position.


    Combination of education and experience: Courses equivalent to a major, as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

    IN ADDITION TO MEETING THE BASIC QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS LISTED ABOVE, AT THE GS-11 LEVEL: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience (equivalent to the GS-09 level) that may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors which demonstrates experience assisting with or performing work in one or more of the following four areas:

    •  Trade facilitation (developing and working with technical regulations in the promotion of trade or business expansion); or

    •  Safeguarding (providing guidance and/or technical expertise to protect the United States agriculture from unwanted pests and diseases entering the United States ); or

    •  Capacity building (negotiating and enforcing agreements; resolving technical, sanitary, or phytosanitary barriers; pursuing the development of rules-based international systems); or

    •  Experience ensuring the effective and efficient management of internationally-based programs.


    3 years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in biological sciences, agriculture, natural resource management, chemistry, or related disciplines appropriate to the position

    Equivalent combinations of education and experience are qualifying for this grade level.

    TRANSCRIPTS are required if:

    • This position requires specific coursework or a degree in a specific field to be basically qualified.
    • You are qualifying for the position based on education.
    • You are qualifying for this position based on a combination of experience and education.
    • This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university.

    COMBINATION OF EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-11 GRADE LEVEL: Applicants may have combinations of successfully completed education and specialized experience to meet total qualification requirements. The total percentages must equal at least 100 percent to qualify for that grade level. To learn more about combining education and experience for this series, click the following: [SELECT ONLY ONE LINK BELOW]  Combining Education and Experience for Professional and Scientific Positions

    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.


    Additional information

    • Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP), Reemployment Priority List (RPL), or Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP): For information on how to apply as a CTAP, RPL, or ICTAP eligible see http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/workforce-restructuring/employee-guide-to-career-transition/. To exercise selection priority for this vacancy, CTAP/RPL/ICTAP candidates must meet the basic eligibility requirements and all selective factors. CTAP/ICTAP candidates must be rated and determined to be well qualified (or above) based on an evaluation of the competencies listed in the How You Will Be Evaluated section. When assessed through a score-based category rating method, CTAP/ICTAP applicants must receive a rating of at least 85 out of a possible 100.
    • More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.
    • Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDAs TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).
    • Direct Deposit – Per Public Law 104-134 all Federal employees are required to have federal payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of your choosing.
    • E-Verify: Federal law requires agencies to use the E-Verify system to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. If you are selected as a newly hired employee, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form I-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS E-VERIFY system. Under the system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.
    • It is the policy of the Government not to deny employment simply because an individual has been unemployed or has had financial difficulties that have arisen through no fault of the individual. See more information at: http://www.chcoc.gov/transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=6465

    How You Will Be Evaluated

    Applications will be evaluated in accordance with Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Delegated Examining Procedures using category rating. The category rating procedure is used to rank and select eligible candidates. Applicants who meet basic minimum qualifications will be placed in one of three categories:  Best Qualified, Well Qualified, or Qualified.  Within these categories, applicants eligible for veterans preference will receive selection priority over non-veterans.  Category placement will be determined on applicants' quality of experience and the extend they possess the following knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) or competencies:

    • Communication Skills
    • Intellectual Skills
    • Leadership Skills
    • Interpersonal Skills
    • Client Service Skills
    • Technical Knowledge

    Your application will be reviewed to determine if you meet (a) minimum qualification requirements and (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the job-specific questions.  Your resume must clearly support your responses to all the questions addressing experience and education relevant to this position. 

    Note: If, after reviewing your resume and/or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your rating may be lowered to more accurately reflect the submitted documentation. Providing inaccurate information on Federal documents could be grounds for non-selection or disciplinary action up to and including removal from the Federal Service.

    This is a multi-phase assessment process.  All the qualified applicants from initial USAJOBS assessment will be invited to participate in an Assessment Center for further consideration.

    The Assessment Center will include tests of the candidates’ skills in a series of written, group and oral exams.  The successful candidates will demonstrate the skills, abilities, and qualities deemed essential to the work of the Foreign Service - interpersonal, intellectual, leadership, client service, communication, and technical knowledge. 

    The Assessment Center will take place January 29th – February 9th, 2018, in the APHIS facility in Riverdale (MD). Invited candidates are responsible for all costs associated with traveling to and from the Assessment Center.  APHIS will not reimburse any costs associated with the candidate’s Assessment Center participation.

    Following the Assessment Center, the candidates’ performances will be evaluated and the results will be combined with the questionnaire from USAJobs.  At this time, the Human Resource Specialist will produce a certificate of eligibles.  After reviewing the combined results, the most qualified candidates will be asked to participate in an additional phase of the assessment process, known as “APHIS Day”.

    APHIS Day will consist of APHIS management and program officials evaluating the candidates for their ability to represent APHIS and its programs worldwide. For APHIS Day, APHIS management has decided that costs associated with travel to attend this part of the assessment will be borne by APHIS.  It is estimated that APHIS Day will occur at least four weeks after the conclusion of the Assessment Center.

    The hiring supervisor will use this certification to fill any vacancy for the APHIS FSTP.  Selections will remain in effect for two years on roster list.

    To view the application form, visit: https://aphis.usda.ntis.gov/cp/?event=jobs.previewApplication&jobid=62EF5457-D348-4B8D-87AE-A83300FDA9A9

    Background checks and security clearance

    Security clearance

    Top Secret

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    Required Documents

    The following documents are required for your application to be complete. Our office cannot be responsible for incompatible software, illegible fax transmissions, delays in mail service, your system failure or downtime, etc. Encrypted and digitally signed documents will not be accepted. Failure to submit required, legible documents may result in loss of consideration.

    • Resume that includes the following information: 1) job information for which you are applying; 2) personal information; 3) education; 4) work experience including the work schedule and hours worked per week as well as dates of employment; and title, series and grade if applicable; 5) supervisors phone number for each work period listed and whether or not we may contact them for reference checks; and, 6) other qualifications.
    • College Transcripts If education is required or you are using education to qualify, you must submit a copy of your college transcripts. An unofficial copy is sufficient with the application; however, if you are selected, you will be required to submit official transcripts prior to entering on duty. Education must have been successfully obtained from an accredited school, college or university. If any education was completed at a foreign institute, you must submit with your application evidence that the education was evaluated by a credential evaluation service as being equivalent to U.S. education standards. There are private organizations that specialize in this evaluation and a fee is normally associated with this service. For a list of private organizations that evaluate education, visit http://www.naces.org/members.htm . All transcripts must be in English or include an English translation. 
    • DD-214 (Member 4 Copy) If claiming veteran’s preference, you must submit a DD214, Certificate of Release from Active Duty, which shows dates of service and discharge under honorable conditions. If currently on active duty you must submit a certification of expected discharge or release from active duty service under honorable conditions that is signed no later than 120 days after the date the certification is submitted. The certification must be on the letterhead of the appropriate military branch and include the dates of military service. Veteran’s preference must be verified prior to appointment. Without this documentation, you will not receive veteran’s preference and your application will be evaluated based on the material(s) submitted. 
    • If claiming 10-point veteran’s preference you must provide the DD214 or certification requirements (see above bullet), plus the proof of entitlement of this preference as listed on the SF-15 Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference. The SF-15 should be included but is not required. Failure to submit these documents could result in the determination that there is insufficient documentation to support your claim for 10-point preference. For more information on veterans’ preference see http://www.fedshirevets.gov/job/vetpref/
    • CTAP/ICTAP Documentation:  Reduction-In-Force: Certification of Expected Separation, Reduction-In-Force Separation Notice, or Notice of Proposed Removal; AND most recent performance evaluation; AND SF-50 demonstrating your separation or the position you will be separated from.
    • Worker's Compensation Separation: Agency certification of inability to place employee AND Notification of Separation OR Separation SF-50.
    • Disability Annuity Termination: Notification from OPM of disability annuity termination AND Separation SF-50 of the last position held. Military Reserve or National Guard Technician Special Disability Retirement Annuity under 5 U.S.C. 8337(h) or 8456: Certification of special disability retirement annuity from a military department or National Guard Bureau AND Separation SF-50 of the last position held.

    NOTE If a document is resubmitted, it replaces the previous submission, which means the previous document is no longer available to the Human Resources Office. If you are adding to, rather than replacing a previous submission, you must upload both the old document and the new document. Please verify that documents you are uploading from USAJOBs transfer into the Agency's staffing system as there is a limitation to the number of documents that can be transferred. However, once in the Agency's staffing system, you will have the opportunity to upload additional documents. Uploaded resumes must be less than 3MB and in one of the following document formats: GIF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, RTF, PDF, or Word (DOC or DOCX).

    If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

    Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

    Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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    A career with the U.S. Government provides employees with a comprehensive benefits package. As a federal employee, you and your family will have access to a range of benefits that are designed to make your federal career very rewarding.

    The Federal Service offers a comprehensive benefits package. Explore the benefits offered to most Federal employees at:  https://www.usa.gov/benefits-for-federal-employees

    Eligibility for benefits depends on the type of position you hold and whether your position is full-time, part-time, or intermittent. Contact the hiring agency for more information on the specific benefits offered.

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    How to Apply

    Please read the entire announcement and all the instructions before you begin. The following instructions outline our application process.

    • You must complete this application process and submit all required documents electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.
    • We are available to assist you during business hours (normally 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday). Applying online is highly encouraged. If applying online poses a hardship, please contact our office during business hours well before the closing date for an alternate method. All hardship application packages with supporting documents must be submitted no later than noon on the closing date of the announcement in order to be entered into the system prior to its closing.
    • This agency provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us if you require this for any part of the application and hiring process.

    Step 1: Create a USAJOBS account (if you do not already have one) at www.usajobs.gov. It is recommended that as part of your profile you set up automatic email notification to be informed when the status of your application changes. If you choose not to set up this automatic notification, then you will have to log into your USAJOBS account to check on the status of your application.

    Step 2: Create a Resume with USAJOBS or upload a Resume into your USAJOBS account. You may want to customize your resume to ensure it documents duties and accomplishments you have gained that are directly related to this position in order to verify that qualifications are met. In addition, your resume must support your responses to the online questionnaire (you may preview the online questionnaire by clicking on the link at the end of the How You Will Be Evaluated section of the job announcement).

    Step 3:
    Click "Apply Online" and follow the prompts to complete the Occupational Questionnaire and attach any additional documents that may be required. You can update your application or documents anytime while the announcement is open. Simply log into your USAJOBS account and click on "Application Status." Click on the position title, and then select "Update Application” to continue.

    Agency contact information

    Human Resources


    250 Marquette Avenue, Suite 410
    Minneapolis, MN, 55401
    United States
    Learn more about this agency

    You can make a difference! The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) needs bright, energetic and committed professionals to facilitate the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and to protect the health and care of animals and plants in the United States. MRP offers an array of occupations and is committed to diversity in the workplace. We operate in domestic and global markets. Be part of an organization that protects the health and agriculture of the American people. Join our team!

    USDA is a great place to start or continue your career. USDA is ranked as one of the top 10 "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" by the Partnership for Public Service (http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/overall/large). Rankings are based on employee feedback regarding satisfaction with their work experience.

    Next steps

    If you set up your USAJOBS account to send automatic email notifications, you will receive an email acknowledging: 1) the submission of your online Occupational Questionnaire and resume was successful, 2) if you were referred to the selecting official for consideration, and 3) if you were selected or not selected. If you choose not to set up automatic email notifications, you must check your USAJOBS account for the latest status of your application. Your application may be reviewed to verify that you meet the qualifications and eligibility requirements for the position prior to issuing lists to a selecting official. If further evaluation or interviews are required, you will be contacted. We expect to make a final job offer within 40 days after the closing date of the announcement.

Fair & Transparent

The Federal hiring process is setup to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy

The United States Government does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy And gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.

Reasonable Accommodation Policy

Federal agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application process should follow the instructions in the job opportunity announcement. For any part of the remaining hiring process, applicants should contact the hiring agency directly. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must provide reasonable accommodations:

  • An applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to have an equal opportunity to apply for a job.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to perform the essential job duties or to gain access to the workplace.
  • An employee with a disability needs an accommodation to receive equal access to benefits, such as details, training, and office-sponsored events.

Legal and regulatory guidance

This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/485144200. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.