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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Microbiologist - Pathways Recent Graduates Program
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Food Safety and Inspection Service
Job Announcement Number:  FSIS-MCE-2013-0052

This position is closed and no longer accepting online applications through USAJOBS.

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$31,315.00 to $74,628.00 / Per Year
Friday, June 28, 2013 to Friday, July 05, 2013
Full-time - Recent Graduate - Permanent
2 vacancies in the following location:
Saint Louis, MO, USView Map

Eligible recent graduates from qualifying educational institutions.  Refer to "Qualifications and Evaluations" section for more information.


Come Join a Great FSIS Team!

This in an Excepted Service Appointment. The Recent Graduates Program provides developmental experiences in the Federal Government. It is intended to promote possible careers in the civil service to individuals who, within the previous two years, graduated from qualifying educational institutions with an associates, bachelors, masters, professional, doctorate, vocational or technical degree or certificate from qualifying educational institutions.

MISSION STATEMENT: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.

This is an appointment under the USDA Recent Graduates program.  

  • The program duration is one year.  
  • Upon successful completion of the program and at the agency's discretion, the appointee may be converted to a term or permanent position in the competitive service.  
  • Appointee must sign a USDA Pathways Recent Graduate Program Participant Agreement.
  • The entire duration of the Recent Graduate Appointment constitutes a trial period.
  • Appointee must be a U.S. citizen in order to be eligible for conversion to a permanent position upon completion of the program. This position has a promotion potential to AP/4, which is equivalent to a GS-12/13.

Click here for more information on Pathways program participants.

Public Health Human Resource System (PHHRS) Demonstration Project.

This position is covered by the Public Health Human Resource System (PHHRS) Demonstration Project. Effective July 19, 2009, FSIS began operating under the PHHRS, a Pay Banding and Pay for Performance Demonstration Project, in which non-bargaining unit positions will be classified by career path, occupational series, and pay bands rather than the traditional General Schedule (GS) grades in the Federal Service.

  • The AP-02 pay band is equivalent to the GS-5/7 grade levels.
  • The AP-3 pay band is equivalent to the GS-9/11.
  • This position has promotion potential to the AP-04 pay band, which is equivalent to the GS-12/13.

PHHRS will allow FSIS the flexibility to offer exceptional candidates higher salaries than most other Federal agencies. Additionally, employees will be eligible to receive an annual pay increase based upon performance. For more information on PHHRS, including information on its pay tables and how it will benefit employees, please visit PHHRS.

This vacancy is located in the Office of Public Health Science, Mid-Western Laboratory, St. Louis, Missouri.


  • U.S. Citizen.
  • Recent Graduates must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Males born after 12/31/1959 must be registered with the Selective Service.
  • There is an education requirement for this position.
  • This is a Public Trust Position requiring a background investigation.


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This position is located in the Microbiology Branch of a multidisciplinary laboratory, Office of Public Health and Science. The Microbiology Branch provides laboratory support and technical guidance to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to assure that all federally inspected meat and poultry products are wholesome and unadulterated. The incumbent

  • Conducts microbiological examinations of meat and poultry products and their ingredients to determine the presence, numbers and species of bacteria, with particular emphasis on coliforms, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter and other agents important in food intoxication, food infection and sanitary microbiology.
  • Performs and conducts various serological and biochemical tests to determine the identification of bacterial species with particular emphasis on those that pertain to food-borne illnesses.
  • Assists the supervisor in the preparation of analytical and statistical reports.
  • Participates in the development or validation of new methods.
  • Independently maintains quality control, interprets results.
  • Makes recommendations for possible refinement of the new methodology.


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  • Applicants who meet the Basic Education Requirements defined in this announcement are fully qualified for the AP-02 (GS-5/7 equivalent).
  • To qualify at the AP-03 (GS-9/11 equivalent) you must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the AP-02 level (GS-7 ) in the federal service OR two years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree OR a combination of education and experience.
  • To qualify at the AP-04 (GS-12/13 equivalent) you must have one year specialized experience equivalent to at least the next lower band/grade level in the federal service.

Specialized Experience:

Examples of specialized experience include professional experience as a food microbiologist or as a microbiologist analyzing a wide variety of food products. Experience must demonstrate developing or modifying methods to perform microbiological analysis; ability to isolate, detect, and confirm food pathogens using up-to-date molecular biology methodology such as real time PCR, micro arrays, or DNA sequence analysis; knowledge of a laboratory quality assurance system; identifying need for development of microbiological methods and approaches; planning and carrying out projects to satisfy these needs; planning and conducting microbiological analyses to solve complex scientific and technical problems, and interpreting findings and policy related to the isolation and detection of foodborne pathogens in food products.

  • The experience must demonstrate good communication skills in order to write complex protocols, laboratory communications, and scientific publications. All qualification requirements must be met within 30 days after the closing date of this announcement.
  • Additional information on the qualification requirements is outlined in the OPM Qualifications Standards Handbook of General Schedule Positions. Click here for more information.

Basic Education Requirements - All Bands/Grades: To be considered for this position, applicants must demonstrate successful completion of a full four-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in microbiology, food microbiology or other subjects directly related to the study of microorganisms, that included at least 20 semester hours (or 30 quarter hours) in microbiology-specific coursework, and completion of 20 semester hours (30 quarter hours) in the physical and mathematical sciences combining coursework in organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, college algebra, or their equivalent. Report only attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Refer to the Office of Personnel and the U.S. Department of Education websites. Click here for more information. Two years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree may be substituted for the experience requirements at the Pay Band 3. 

Superior Academic Achievement is based on the following: class standing, grade-point average, or honor society membership.

  • Class standing -- Applicants must be in the upper third of the graduating class in the college, university, or major subdivision, such as the College of Liberal Arts or the School of Business Administration, based on completed courses. 
  • Grade-point average (G.P.A.) -- Applicants must have a grade-point average of: a. 3.0 or higher out of a possible 4.0 ("B" or better) as recorded on their official transcript, or as computed based on 4 years of education, or as computed based on courses completed during the final 2 years of the curriculum; or b. 3.5 or higher out of a possible 4.0 ("B+" or better) based on the average of the required courses completed in the major field or the required courses in the major field completed during the final 2 years of the curriculum. 
  • Election to membership in a national scholastic honor society -- Applicants can be considered eligible based on membership in one of the national scholastic honor societies listed below. These honor societies are listed by the Association of College Honor Societies. Agencies considering eligibility based on any society not included in the following list must ensure that the honor society meets the minimum requirements of the Association of College Honor Societies. Membership in a freshman honor society cannot be used to meet the requirements of this provision.

  • All supporting documents in the "How to Apply" section must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on the closing date of the announcement.
  • NOTE: Please ensure that your resume is specific and documents your qualifications and experience.


  • Applicants are evaluated in accordance with Delegated Examining Procedures using category rating. All applicants are rated on the extent and quality of experience, education, and training relevant to the duties of the position. An automated ranking system based on the on-line application process is used. Before a certificate of names can be issued to the selecting official, the resume is reviewed carefully by an HR Specialist to assure that (a) minimum qualification requirements are met, (b) the resume supports the answers provided to the job-specific questions, c) that your resume addresses experience and education relevant to this position, and (d) copies of any required documents need to be submitted. 
  • Your resume must thoroughly support your responses to the applicant assessment questions. High self-assessment in the applicant questions that is not supported by information in your resume may eliminate you from best-qualified status and subsequent referral to the selecting official.
  • If you are found to be one of the top quality candidates or a non-competitive referral and will be referred to the selecting official for job consideration, you may be asked to develop a written response to narrative/essay type questions in the second round of the application process. If this applies to you, you will be contacted by an agency representative. Please keep your records updated with your current email address.
  • The automated system will place applicants in categories based on their responses to the on-line job related assessment questions, which are based on the duties and competencies required of the position. These categories are qualified, well qualified, and best qualified. Best qualified is the top category. Veterans who meet qualification requirements and have adjudicated veterans preference will be placed at the top of the category they fall into based on their answers to the assessment questions; this could be one of several categories, however, non-veterans cannot be selected over veterans that are in the same category. Only candidates in the top category are referred to the selecting official, unless categories are merged. Adjudicated veterans are those who meet the requirements for preference and submit legible documentation by the closing date of the announcement.
  • A Member 4 copy of the DD-214 click here must be submitted, or a letter from the Veterans Administration specifying eligibility as a disabled veteran, and in either case, documents must specify an honorable discharge. For disabled veterans, the SF-15 is requested; in the absence of an SF-15, the VA letter specifying eligibility for preference and an honorable discharge is sufficient, assuming all requirements for preference are met.

The Competencies that will be evaluated are:

  • Information Technology
  • Technical Skills
  • Analytical
  • Teamwork
  • Communication (both written and written)

To preview questions please click here.


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  • The Federal government offers a number of exceptional benefits to its employees. For an overview, please visit: Benefits Of Working For The Federal Government.
  • We are a qualifying employer of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. For more information on the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program, please visit: PSLF Program.
  • This position may be eligible for telework and other flexible work arrangements.


  • Entitlement to the payment of relocation expenses will not be paid. 
  • Multiple selections: This announcement may be used to fill additional, like vacancies should any occur in the commuting area.
  • Selectee may be required to work occasional weekends or holidays. Full performance level of this position is AP-4 (GS-12/13).  
  • Position will be filled at AP-02 (GS-5/7), AP-03 (GS-9/11) depending upon selectee's level of experience and/or education, and time-in-band/grade.  This position has promotion potential to AP-04 (GS-12/13). Non-competitive promotion may be made up to AP-4 (GS-12/13) upon meeting eligibility requirements. Promotion is not guaranteed, and will depend upon the incumbent's demonstrated performance, ability to assume additional responsibility, and ability to perform successfully at the next higher band/grade
  • If you are selected, you will need to complete a Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306) prior to being appointed to determine suitability for Federal employment and to authorize a background investigation. False statements or responses on a resume or application can jeopardize employment and may be grounds for disciplinary action, including removal from Federal service. This position requires a background investigation.
  • Incumbent will be subject to the successful completion of a background investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements could lead to adverse action proceedings including possible termination.
  • FEDERAL LAW REQUIRES ALL EMPLOYERS TO VERIFY THE IDENTITY AND EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY OF ALL PERSONS HIRED TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES. FSIS utilizes E-Verify to verify identity and employment eligibility by providing to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and, if necessary the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) information from each new employee's Form I-9 to confirm work authorization. E-Verify cannot be used to pre-screen job applicants or to re-verify current employees and may not limit or influence the choice of documents presented for use on the Form I-9. If you have concern that there has been a violation of the E-Verify program or you feel you have been discriminated during the verification process based on your national origin or citizenship status, contact the Office of Special Counsel at 1-800-255-7688 (TDD: 1-800-237-2515). For more information on E-Verify you may contact DHS at 1-888-464- 4218.
  • A post-secondary certificate program must have been completed at a qualified educational institution equivalent to at least 1 academic year or full-time study that is part of an accredited college-level, technical, trade, vocational, or business school curriculum.
  • Education completed outside of the United States must be deemed equivalent to that gained in conventional/accredited U.S. education programs to be accepted for Federal employment.  If you received a degree abroad, contact the agency to which you are applying for guidance regarding having your degree reviewed by a U.S. based credential evaluation service.
  • If you are a student veteran, complete the questionnaire and submit documentation (DD-214, SF-15 and proof of requested on the SF-15 if claiming 10-point Veterans’ preference or DD-2014 if claiming 5 point preference or VEOA eligibility (separated under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous service.
  • Students with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).
  • Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture NON-Discrimination Statement


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Completed applications include: 

  1. Answers to all core questions (Completed when registering on-line in USAJOBS and as part of the initial application process)
  2. Answers to all vacancy-specific questions (Completed for each job) 
  3. Your on-line resume. Resumes are entered into USAJOBS. Resumes can be copied and pasted into the personal information area of your application from other word processing documents at any time prior to the closing date. 
  4. Any supplemental documents needed.
  5. Announcement closes at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on the closing date.
  6. Applicants who do not respond to the on-line vacancy questions and who do not submit a supporting resume or required documents will be rated ineligible.


Must be submitted prior to closing date:

  • If you are qualifying based on education you must submit your transcripts (undergraduate AND graduate) by the closing date of this announcement. This information should include course title, school name/location, date completed, grade, and number of credits earned. Transcript must document specific coursework completed & credit hours earned. You will not be considered for this position without this information. An unofficial photocopy of your transcript is acceptable. When academic credit on a transcript is expressed in terms that differ from U.S. conventional semester/quarter hours, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide an official evaluation of such credits in order to equate them to the semester hours specified in the Qualifications Standard Handbook ( Supporting Documentation:

The next step of the application process is to fax all the required supporting documentation specified in the Required Documents section of this vacancy announcement. You do not need to have all of your supporting documentation submitted in order to continue with the online portion of the application process. Please carefully follow the instructions below to ensure your supporting documents are properly faxed and received.

 If you are unable to upload your documents, you may still fax your documents.


Shannon Sarbo
Phone: 612-659-8564
Fax: 612-370-2376
TDD: 800-877-8339
Agency Information:
Human Resources Field Office
Butler Square West, Suite 420C
100 North 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN
Fax: 612-370-2376


You may check your application status on USAJOBS. Applications are reviewed after the announcement closing date and the best qualified candidates are referred to the selecting official.

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