Senior Executive Service

The Senior Executive Service (SES) consists of executive positions, including managerial, supervisory, and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) grade 15 or equivalent positions in most Executive Branch agencies of the Federal Government.

SES members are selected for their leadership qualifications. They have exceptional managerial and people skills and know how to build partnerships and communicate with customers. Sharing a broad perspective of government grounded in the Constitution, they make sure federal executive management is responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the Nation.


Anyone is eligible to apply to an SES position (as long as you’re a U.S. citizen or national), but to be qualified, you must meet the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs).

Executive Core Qualifications

The ECQs help determine if you have the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions. The ECQs are required for entry to the SES and are used by many departments and agencies in selection, performance management, and leadership development for executive positions. The five ECQs are:

  1. Leading Change
  2. Leading People
  3. Results Driven
  4. Business Acumen
  5. Building Coalitions

Learn more about the executive core qualifications

How do I know a job is open in the Senior Executive Service?

In the job announcement look for the This job is open to section. When a job is open to Senior Executive Service you’ll see this icon: Senior Executive Service There may be other groups listed that can also apply.

You can also select the Senior Executive Service filter in search. Your results will display all jobs open within the Senior Executives Service.

Applying for Senior Executive Service positions

There are two ways you can apply for a Senior Executive Service position:

  1. Apply directly to a federal agency for a specific SES position.
  2. Apply for an SES Candidate Development Program (SESCDP).

An SESCDP identifies and prepares aspiring senior executive leaders. If you graduate from this program and your ECQs are certified by an OPM-administered Qualifications Review Board (QRB) then you’re eligible for (but not guaranteed) career appointment to an SES position without further competition.

Other senior executive level jobs

Not all senior executive level jobs are in the SES. Agencies in the competitive or excepted service may have executive level jobs, where you may not have to meet the same qualification requirements as in the SES.

In the job announcement, look for the This job is open to section. When a job is considered an executive level job, you’ll see the Other senior executives icon Senior Executives other. You can also select the Other senior executives filter in search. Your results will display all senior executive level jobs that aren’t in the SES.

Documents you may need

  • OPM Qualifications Review Board certification for SES

    The Qualifications Review Board (QRB) reviews and certifies the executive qualifications of each person applying to a Senior Executive position. You must pass the QRB assessment to be considered for a Senior Executive job.

Upload and submit through USAJOBS

You can upload and save documents to your USAJOBS account. Once uploaded, you can submit these forms with your job application as needed. Sign into USAJOBS or learn how to upload documents.