Are You Eligible for a Federal Job?

Kyle Stone | GovCentral Contributing Writer

Eligibility rules can be a little confusing. The intend of this page is to clarify some of the the complexities of eligibility rules so job hunters don’t end up wasting time applying for positions they cannot become eligible for.

The qualifying rules differ vastly depending on what department you’re interested in working for, so this might also be a good time to jump ahead to our Which Department is Right for You section of the guide, where you can figure out where to go next.

Who is Eligible?

Whether or not you are eligible largely depends on what type of government work you’re looking for. There are two classes of Jobs in the Federal Government:

1. Those that are in the Competitive Civil Service
2. Those that are in the Excepted Service

Competitive service jobs are under the Office of Personnel Management’s jurisdiction, and subject to the civil service laws passed by Congress to ensure that applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process.

Excepted service agencies (Legislature, Judicial, CIA, and others) set their own qualification requirements and are not subject to appointment, pay, and classification rules of the Office of Personnel Management. Positions may be in the excepted service by law, by executive order, or by action of the OPM.

<a href=""">Am I Eligible for a Department of Defense Job?

See our Department of Defense eligibility overview.

I am a Minority; Does this Mean I Cannot Work for the Government?

Whether you are a minority or not does not matter – in fact, it is illegal for the government to discriminate against employees based on race, sex, or class. However, whether or not you are a US citizen may affect your ability to be hired. This largely depends on what department you are applying for.

For more information on immigrant’s abilities to work for the US government, go here.

What if I am an Ex-Offender?

Being an ex-offender does not prevent you from obtaining Federal Employment. OPM or the hiring agency considers your criminal conduct in determining your suitability but there are no general prohibitions against hiring you. We consider a number of relevant factors such as the duties of the positions you have applied for, the nature and recency of the misconduct, and any evidence of rehabilitation.Although there are no general prohibitions against employing you in the Federal Government, there are some regulations which will prohibit you from working in certain positions if you have a specific conviction. The most common situation involves being convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes under Federal or State law. These persons are “prohibited form employment in any position requiring the individual: to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition” (Public Law 1-4-208 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997) Other statutory or regulatory debarments exist, but are rarely applicable. They cover debarment from Federal employment from such offenses as treason, inciting rebellion against the U.S., willful and unlawful destruction of public records, or knowingly and willfully advocating the overthrow of the U.S. Government.It is important for you provide all the required information about your criminal record when you apply for Federal employment. Then, either OPM or the employing agency can determine early if a specific prohibition exists.

What if I have other questions about eligibility?

You can also call OPM’s USAJOBS hotline, 24 hours a day seven days a week, for updated job information at 1-703-724-1850 or visit their web site at

Back to Step 3: Decide if You’re Ready

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