Senior executives

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.


You may be eligible for a Senior Executive Service position if you 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

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.