skip navigation links
USGS - science for a changing world

Human Capital Services and Support

We Are USGS!

Department of the Interior (DOI) - U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pathways Internship Program

Department of Interior (DOI)-US Geological Survey (USGS) Internship Program
effective 7/10/12

The USGS Internship Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and getting paid for the work performed.

The Internship Program has two types of Internship appointments: (1) appoint a student on a temporary basis, not to exceed 1 year, to complete temporary or short-term projects; or (2) appoint a student for an initial period expected to last more than 1 year and may lead to permanent employment.

The Internships are available to all levels of students. Students in an accredited high school, college (including 4-year colleges/universities, and community/junior colleges); professional, technical, vocational, and trade school; advanced degree program; or other qualifying educational institution pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate.

Intern-Temporary Position

Job opportunities under this internship offer temporary employment that can provide you with a valuable work experience. Employment can range from summer jobs to positions that may last as long as you are a student (in 1-year increments or less). The duties do not have to relate to your academic field of study.

A Participant Agreement is established between you and the USGS which sets the requirements and expectations. It provides the educational and work requirements for your internship and anticipated completion date of education and the needs of the office. Students in this program may be eligible to apply for another Internship opportunity based on their area of study. Click here for a copy of the Participant Agreement for Internship Program.

Intern-Career Position

This component offers you valuable work experience related to your academic field of study or career goals. The program is designed to be a partnership between you, and the USGS. The internship combines academic classroom learning with practical, on-the-job experience and provides you with paid work experience in your field of study or career goals.

A Participant Agreement is established between you and the USGS which sets the requirements and expectations of your internship. It provides the educational and work requirements for your internship and anticipated completion date of these requirements. This internship may lead to permanent employment (or, in some circumstances a term appointment lasting 13 months but not exceeding a total of 4 years) after you successfully complete your education and program requirements. Click here for a copy of the Participant Agreement for Internship Program.

To be eligible for conversion, Interns must:

  • Be a US Citizen
  • Complete at least 640 hours of work experience acquired through the Internship Program (Note:* may waive up to 320 of the required 640 hours of work under specific conditions)
  • Successfully complete their degree or certificate requirements
  • Meet the qualification standards for the position to which the Intern will be converted
  • Meet agency-specific requirements as specified in the Participant's Agreement, and
  • Demonstrates successful job performance


  • Agencies may waive up to 320 of the required 640 hours of work for Interns who demonstrate high potential as evidenced by outstanding academic achievement (3.5 GPA) and exceptional job performance; or
  • Students working in agencies through third-party intern providers may count up to 320 of the hours they work toward the 640 hour requirement; or
  • Time spent under a previous Internship Program appointments may count towards required work experience hours; or
  • Served active duty in the armed forces including the National Guard and Reserves and discharged under honorable conditions; or
  • Student volunteer experience designed to give internship experience to students

The non-Federal internship experience is in a field or functional area related to the students target position.

Program Features Under Both Type of Appointments

  • Students may be employed year round.
  • Students may have flexible work schedules.
  • Open to all students in high school, under-graduate, graduate, and vocational/technical.
  • Students may be eligible for tuition assistance. (For specific benefits
  • Are a student enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a degree (diploma, certificate, etc.) seeking student.
  • Are at least 16 years of age at the time of appointment.
  • Are enrolled as at least a half-time student (or students who have been accepted for enrollment) in an accredited high school, technical or vocational school, 2-year or 4-year college or university, graduate or professional school.
  • Have a satisfactory academic record, 2.0 or better cumulative G.P.A. is required. Each year provide a copy of your most recent transcript.
  • Are a U.S. citizen. Non-citizens may be eligible for employment if eligible to work under U.S. immigration laws and no qualified U.S. citizens are available for the position. (U.S. citizenship is required if you are converted to a permanent position from the Intern-Indefinite program.)
  • Meet the qualification requirements for the position and submit all required documentation as specified in the vacancy announcement.
  • under both of these internships, see Benefits.)

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible under the Internship Program if you:

Employment Outlook

Like the private sector, USGS is undergoing streamlining and restructuring to become more efficient. USGS is still recruiting job opportunities that provide critical services, and maintain our high scientific and technical expertise. USGS intern vacancies are highly competitive. We want to attract students who demonstrate the talent, skills, and abilities that meet our future work force needs.

As an employee of the USGS, your compensation is more than a paycheck. You receive a competitive benefits package designed to meet the needs of today's diverse workforce as described below.

  • Salary Tables (
  • USGS Offices and Locations

For New Employees on Temporary Internship (TI) or Career Internship (I) Appointments under the Pathways Program

TI I Benefit
bullet bullet SALARY INCREASES - Federal employees may receive a pay increase each year, effective in January. Congress and the President set the amount of this increase. Locality pay also provides higher salaries for employees who work in higher salary areas. See U. S. Office of Personnel Management Information on Federal Pay for further information.
  bullet GS SALARY (STEP) INCREASES -In addition, Intern employees, whose performance is satisfactory, are eligible for periodic pay increases called "within-grades." Each grade range of the General Schedule pay scale is divided into ten steps and employees' salaries progress up the steps based on their length of service.
bullet bullet WG SALARY (STEP) INCREASES – Temporary and Intern employees in wage graded positions are eligible for periodic increases. Each grade range of the pay scale is divided into five steps and employees' salaries progress up the steps based on their length of service.
  bullet GENEROUS RETIREMENT BENEFITS – Interns new to the Federal Government are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), including Social Security. These two programs provide a basic level of retirement or disability income, as well as survivor benefits for the spouse and children of a deceased employee.
  bullet THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN - FERS employees may contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment program similar to a 401(k) plan. Contributions are matched up to 4% with an automatic government contribution of 1%. More information about TSP is available from theThrift Savings Plan Website.
however you must plan to be in the program for at least one full year
HEALTH INSURANCE - The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program is considered by many health care experts as one of the best in the nation. The government pays an average 70 percent of premiums and accepts pre-existing medical conditions. Employees may choose fee-for-service plans, health maintenance organizations (HMO's) Consumer-Driven High Deductible plans depending on location. This benefit may be pre-taxed. Employees may also choose to cover eligible family members. Employees who are enrolled in the FEHB for at least the last five years before they retire may continue their enrollment throughout their retirement. The Government continues to pay the same share of the premiums as for active employees.
bullet   DELAYED HEALTH INSURANCE – Temporary Intern employees are eligible to elect health insurance coverage after one year of continuous service. Temporary Interns may cover themselves as well as eligible family members though must pay both the employee and Government share of the premium.
  bullet DENTAL AND VISION INSURANCE - The Federal Employee Dental and Vision Benefits provide supplemental dental and vision benefits on a pre-taxed basis. Employees may enroll for Self only, Self plus one, or Self and family coverage.
bullet   DELAYED DENTAL AND VISION INSURANCE - Temporary Intern employees eligible to elect health insurance coverage after one year of continuous service may elect the Dental and/or Vision insurance. Enrollment for health insurance is not required.
  bullet FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS (FSA) - Employees may pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
bullet   FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS - Temporary Interns may pay for eligible out-of-pocket dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollar.
bullet   DELAYED FLEXIBLE SPENDING ACCOUNTS - Temporary Interns are eligible to elect health insurance coverage after one year of continuous service may elect health care account FSA account. Enrollment for health insurance is not required.
  bullet LIFE INSURANCE - Full-time and part-time Interns are enrolled in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program. They are automatically covered (no physical required) by the basic insurance amount, unless they choose to waive coverage. The basic insurance amount is the employee's annual salary rate rounded up to the nearest thousand, plus $2000. The Government pays one third of the premium for the basic insurance. New employees may choose to also enroll in various coverage options, up to 5 times their annual salary. New employees may also enroll for a family option.
  bullet LONG TERM CARE - Employees eligible for health insurance may also apply for Long Term Care insurance. Eligible family members may also apply. One does not need to be enrolled in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB).
bullet   DELAYED LONG TERM CARE - Temporary Interns eligible for health insurance may also apply for Long Term Care Insurance. One does not need to be enrolled in the FEHB program.
in most cases
in most cases
FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS - Most full-time USGS employees can take advantage of flexible hours to avoid peak traffic periods or to meet their personal needs. Arrival times can vary between 6:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., and a midday flexible time band from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. allows for an extended lunch break; the standard lunch break is a half-hour. Some offices allow compressed work schedules, such as nine-hour days with a three-day weekend in alternating weeks.
bullet bullet HOLIDAYS - Full-time employees have ten paid holidays a year, including New Year's Day, Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Part-time employees will also be paid for the number of hours they are scheduled to work on these ten holidays.
bullet bullet EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM - Employees and their family members are eligible for confidential counseling by professional counselors who can help you deal with personal problems.
bullet bullet MEDICARE - Employees contribute 1.45% of salary to Medicare and may be eligible for hospital insurance benefits through the Medicare program at age 65.
bullet bullet LEAVE - The two primary kinds of leave are annual (vacation time) and sick leave. Employees earn annual leave at rates depending on their length of service. For their first three years of full-time employment, you earn 104 hours of vacation a year. From 3 to 15 years of full-time service you earn 156 hours a year. Employees with more than 15 years of full-time service earn 208 hours a year. You are also allowed to accrue leave and carry 240 hours of leave into the next year. All full-time employees accrue sick leave at the rate of 4 hours per 2-week pay period. Leave accrual for part-time employees is prorated based on the number of hours they are scheduled to work, e.g. half-time employees earn leave at half the rate of full-time employees. Additionally, USGS has a Leave Share Program that allows employees to donate their vacation time to other employees who have a medical emergency. USGS follows the Family Medical Leave Act, authorizes leave without pay, Military Leave, Court Leave, and other Excused Absences.
bullet bullet CREDIT FOR MILITARY SERVICE - Employees who have served on active duty with the United States military services can receive credit for their military time toward leave accrual and retirement. (A deposit may be necessary to cover retirement contributions not made during this time.)
bullet bullet CREDIT UNION - Employees and their family members are eligible to join the Federal Credit Union at various locations throughout the country. The credit union provides savings, checking, loans, and other financial services to members.
bullet bullet WORKERS COMPENSATION - -Employees who are injured on the job may receive benefits through the provisions of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). The FECA provides medical benefits, compensation for loss of earning capacity, and death benefits for the family of an employee who dies from employment-related injury or disease.
bullet bullet ELECTRONIC DEPOSIT -Employees' pay is deposited directly into their accounts at their chosen financial institutions on each scheduled payday. You can also elect to have automatic withdrawals to pay for loans or allotments of your choice.
bullet bullet TUITION ASSISTANCE - Employees under the Intern program may be eligible for tuition assistance.
bullet bullet TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES - Training can include on-the-job training, seminars, and classroom studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of a student for an internship?

A student is an individual who has been accepted for enrollment, or who is enrolled, as a degree (diploma, certificate, etc.) seeking resident student in an accredited high school, technical or vocational school, 2-year or 4-year college or university, or graduate or professional school.

How many credits or hours must a student be enrolled?

The student must be taking at least a half-time course load. The definition of half-time is the definition provided by the school in which the student is enrolled.

How many times can a student be appointed to the Temporary Intern or Intern?

There is no limit on the number of times a student may be appointed under either program as long as he/she meets the eligibility requirements for the appointment.

Is a student pursuing a GED eligible for the either the temporary or indefinite Internship Program?

Yes, a student enrolled in GED courses and pursuing a GED diploma meets the definition of student under both programs.

What are the age requirements for students to participate in the Internship Program?

You must be at least 16 years of age.

Where can I find out about Internship positions?

Visit USAJOBS to view available internship opportunities with USGS and other agencies. In addition, visit OPM’s Pathways Programs and Frequently Asked Pathway Questions Websites.

Does Veteran's Preference apply in the selection process for students?

Yes. Please see Veterans Preference for further information.

Can students receive pay increases?

Yes. If Federal employees receive a pay increase, all students would receive this increase. Additionally, students in the Career Intern program are eligible for what is referred to as within grade increases. For students in the temporary internship, eligibility for within grade increases depends on the pay system of the occupation. Temporary intern employees are eligible for within-grade increases only when they are in blue collar positions (typically called Wage Grade) involving trades, craft, or labor work. Temporary Intern employees in white collar positions (typically called General Schedule) e.g., scientific, technical, administrative, clerical, etc. do not receive within-grade increases.

Can students be promoted?

Yes. Permanent Intern employees are eligible for promotions. A General Schedule (GS) employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least two steps (about 6 percent) upon placement in a higher graded position without a break in service. A Wage Grade (WG) employee is entitled to an increase in pay of at least one step (about 4 percent). Please see the U. S. Office of Personnel Management Information on Federal Pay for further information.

Are students eligible for annual and sick leave?

Students in the Permanent Internship program earn annual and sick leave. Students in the Temporary Internship program earn annual and sick leave provided their appointment duration is for at least 90 days.

Are students eligible for health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits?

For newly employed interns, health, dental, vision and life insurance coverage for Federal employees depends on the type of appointment an employee has and the expectation of substantial employment during the year. Please see the Benefits section for further information.

What are the limits on the length of a "break in program" which a USGS manager can approve for a student?

Limits on the length of the break in program are at the discretion of the USGS. The USGS should assure themselves that the student is making reasonable progress towards the attainment of the degree/diploma etc. and that the needs of the manager and USGS are also being considered.

May students’ alternate school and work (i.e. work full-time this semester and next semester go to school full-time, and not work at all)?

Yes. The student and USGS need to work together to accommodate the academic needs of the student and the work related needs of the agency. For students participating in either Internship program there must be a written Participant Agreement and a formally arranged schedule of school and work.

What is the definition of a certificate program?

A certificate program means a post-secondary education, in a qualifying educational institution, equivalent to at least one academic year of full-time study that is part of an accredited college-level, technical, trade, vocational, or business school curriculum.

Why is it so great to work for USGS?

From the peaks of the highest mountains to the depths of the deepest seas, the U.S. Geological Survey has career opportunities that make a difference in both the lives of others and in the environment. The USGS has more than 10,000 scientists, technicians, and support staff of the USGS who are working in more than 400 locations throughout the United States. As the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The diversity of our scientific expertise enables us to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations and provide impartial, timely, and relevant scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers related to: the health of our ecosystems and environment; natural hazards that threaten us; natural resources we rely on, and; the impact of climate and land-use changes. For more information about the USGS please visit

Conflict Management | Employee & Career Development | Human Resources |
Organization Development | Pay & Benefits | Performance & Conduct | Staffing & Workforce

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:
Page Last Modified: Tuesday, 24-Mar-2015 10:08:32 EDT