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This Position Is No Longer Available

Job Title:  Plant Pathologist (Identifier)
Department:  Department Of Agriculture
Agency:  Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Job Announcement Number:  24PQ-2014-0017

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

The contents of the announcement can still be viewed.
$53,500.00 to $84,146.00 / Per Year
Monday, December 16, 2013 to Friday, January 03, 2014
Full Time - Permanent
1 vacancy - Linden, NJ   View Map
This announcement is open to all United States citizens. (Current and Former Federal employees may also apply to Merit Promotion announcement #6PQ-2014-0013.)
Public Trust - Background Investigation


About the 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!
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.


  • U.S. Citizenship


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The duties described are for the full-performance level. At developmental grade levels, assignments will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity. The duties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Identifies or verifies identification of plant pests, such as plant pathogens (i.e. bacteria, fungus), and identifies and isolates nematodes; identifies specimens to genera and, where sufficient information is available, to species; and records required information and reports results of taxonomic work as necessary.
  • Categorizes potential pest as injurious and of economic significance, cosmopolitan and domestic and not significant, or not significant or cosmopolitan and domestic but significant in particular parts of the U.S.
  • Maintains, develops, and supplements information on taxonomy, hosts, distribution, and other related information pertaining to intercepted and/or survey plant pests and develops and maintains specimen collections of plant pests and plant pathogens.
  • Consults with and advises Department of Homeland Security (DHS), State departments of agriculture and other cooperators on the identity and biology of and procedures for detecting plant pests, such as plant pathogens.
  • Develops or aids in developing training modules and appropriately illustrated identification aids and works with national program staff to deliver training to PPQ, DHS, and State employees.
  • Exercises agency regulatory authority by initiating regulatory action, e.g. for quarantine pests intercepted from imported commodities or new State or county determinations from domestic surveys.
  • Provides technical assistance regarding PPQ domestic program pests and exotic pests, and the pathways through which they enter the U.S. by analyzing interception records for trends of pest entry, monitoring inspection procedures, and establishing solid contacts with industry.
  • Keeps current and uses state of the art technology to perform taxonomic duties, such as digital imaging, chemical diagnostic tests, and microscopy and specimen preparation techniques and equipment.


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To qualify, you MUST meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.
Degree in plant pathology; or a related scientific discipline that included at least 20 semester hours in basic botany or plant science and 10 semester hours in plant pathology.
IN ADDITION TO MEETING THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS LISTED ABOVE: Applicants can qualify by meeting the EDUCATION and/or SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE requirements specified below.
GS-09: Two years of progressively higher-level graduate education leading to a master's or equivalent graduate degree in plant pathology or a related field.
GS-11: Three years of progressively higher-level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in plant pathology or a related field.
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. For more information on submitting transcripts, click: Transcripts.
Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent in level of difficulty and responsibility to the next lower level in the Federal Service. This experience may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors.
Examples of GS-09 qualifying experience include, but are not limited to:
  • Knowledge of the theories, principles, and methodology used in plant pathology with an emphasis on classification/taxonomy.
  • Detection of specific exotic plant pathogens as a part of a pest detection program.
  • Ability to investigate the causes of new or unknown plant health problems.
  • Skill in detecting, identifying, and characterizing microscopic plant pathogens of a wide variety of plant genera.
  • Knowledge of Federal Plant Protection and Quarantine activities.
  • Ability to effectively communicate with groups from diverse backgrounds.

Examples of GS-11 qualifying experience include, but are not limited to:
  • Ability to develop and optimize diagnostic protocols for regulated and other important plant diseases.
  • Skill in analyzing specific plant pathogens for certification or phytosanitary purposes.
  • Expertise with advanced equipment and techniques to conduct a broad range of testing for plant pathogenic fungi, bacteria, viruses.
  • Skill in the diagnosis of plant health problems or disorders for multi-state stakeholders.

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: Combining Education and Experience for Professional and Scientific Positions.

Special Conditions:

  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with the Selective Service.
  • DD214 (Member 4 copy) or other veterans' documents required to receive veterans' preference.
  • As a condition of employment, a background investigation may be required for this position.
  • Subject to satisfactory completion of a one-year probationary period.
  • Valid state driver's license required at time of hiring.
  • Work is performed in an inspection station or a laboratory setting. There are regular and recurring risks associated with working around and with chemicals.
  • Must be able to perform work while wearing a respirator to oversee fumigations.
  • Position is generally sedentary, although there is prolonged standing at times.
  • Some travel is required. Occasional field survey/investigations or collection trips require walking, bending, crouching, and climbing for prolonged periods in rough terrain subject to a variety of weather conditions.
  • Position requires USDA pesticide applicator certification within a prescribed time period.
  • Transcripts must be submitted for this position.


  • Your application will be rated on the extent and quality of your experience, education and training relevant to the position. Your resume must support that you meet the specialized experience requirements described above and are proficient in the following skills or competencies below. Please note you are not required to provide specific narrative responses to the skills and competencies described in this section.
    • Skill in identifying and taxonomy of plant pests and plant pathogens
    • Ability to research, organize, and analyze data
    • Ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing and work productively in a team setting
  • Category rating procedures will be used to rank and select eligible candidates. The following quality categories will be used: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, and Qualified. Within each quality category, veterans' preference eligibles will receive selection priority over non-veterans.
  • An automated scoring system will be used to initially rate your application based on your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Please ensure your resume provides enough detail to support your responses. Based on your responses, you may be invited to participate in a structured interview.
  • Your final category placement will be based on your cumulative score from the structured interview and/or assessment questionnaire.
  • If, after reviewing your resume and / or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score can / will be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you.

To preview questions please click here.


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  • For information regarding CTAP eligibility for displaced Federal employees click: Career Transition Assistance Programs.
  • 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: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).
  • For information on filing a complaint of discrimination, click: Filing a Complaint.


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    A complete on-line application will require the submission of the following:
    • Resume
    • Responses to the vacancy specific questions (you will be prompted to complete these questions during the online application process)
    • Supporting Documentation which may be required (see links under Required Documents for more information)
    For instructions on using the on-line system click: APPLYING ON-LINE
    For instructions on submitting documents click: SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION


    Click on the following links to see if the supporting documentation is applicable to you:
    Critical Submission Requirements and Reminders
    • Help in applying online is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Time at the number listed in the Contact information section.
    • All application materials and supplemental documentation will be accepted until midnight Eastern Time on the closing date.
    • Application and supporting documentation will not be accepted via e-mail.
    • Due to the high volume of applicants, we are unable to confirm receipt of supporting documentation. If faxing, you should retain confirmation of a successful fax transmission including the number of pages successfully transmitted as proof of submission.
    • 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 fax and/or upload both the old document and the new document.
    • Applicants who cannot apply on-line must request a hard copy application packet from the Agency Contact listed in the vacancy announcement. Resumes and/or supporting documentation alone will not be considered without the inclusion of a hard copy application packet.


    Phone: 612-336-3326
    Fax: 612-336-3560
    Agency Information:
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
    100 N 6th Street, Butler Sq Bldg, 510C
    Minneapolis, MN
    Fax: 612-336-3560


    You may check the status of your application on-line 24 hours a day through USAJOBS. Status updates will be available after 2-3 weeks. For instructions on checking your application status click: Checking My Application Status. No additional correspondence will be sent.

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