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Youth at the USGS

Travis Gibson

Hydrological Technician

“Working as a student for the USGS is an excellent way for anybody interested in working in a science field to “get their foot in the door“”

Be our future...join the USGS
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Student Educational Employment Program

The Student Educational Employment Program (SEEP) has two components, the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). It is available to all levels of students: high school, vocational and technical, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, graduate degree, and professional degree students.


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


This component offers you valuable work experience directly related to your academic field of study. It provides formal periods of work and study while you are attending school. The program is designed to be a partnership between you, your school, and the USGS. SCEP combines academic classroom learning with practical, on-the-job experience and provides you with paid work experience in your field of study. The SCEP may lead to permanent employment after you successfully complete your education and meet work requirements.

Program Features Under Both Components:

  • Students may be employed year round.
  • Students may have flexible work schedules.
  • Open to all students...high school, under-graduate, graduate, and vocational/technical.
  • Students may be eligible for tuition assistance. (For specific benefits under both of these components, see Benefits.)

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible under the Student Educational Employment Program if you:

  • Are a student enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a degree (diploma, certificate, etc.) seeking student.
  • Copy of a transcript will be required to determine eligibility.
  • 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 accumulative G.P.A. is required.
  • 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 SCEP.)
  • Are qualified for the position as stated in the vacancy announcement.

Employment Outlook

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

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of a student?

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 Student Temporary Employment Program? Student Career Experience Program?

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

Is a student pursuing a GED eligible for the Student Educational Employment Program?

Yes, a student enrolled in GED courses and pursuing a GED diploma meets the definition of student. Due to the general nature of the coursework, the student might not be eligible for the Student Career Experience Program, but would be eligible for the Student Temporary Employment Program.

What are the age requirements for students to participate in the Student Educational Employment Program?

You must be 16 years of age.

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 an annual cost of living increase, all students would receive this increase. Additionally, students in the Student Career Experience Program are eligible for what is referred to as within grade increases. For students in the Student Temporary Employment Program, eligibility for within grade increases depends on the pay system of the occupation. STEP employees are eligible for within-grade increases only when they are in blue collar positions involving trades, craft, or labor work. STEP employees in white collar positions (e.g., scientific, technical, administrative, clerical, etc.) do not receive within-grade increases.

Can students be promoted?

Yes. Students in both programs are eligible for promotion. However, the Nature of Action Code (NOAC) for students in the Student Temporary Employment Program is actually a conversion to a new appointment (at the higher grade level) while keeping the current NTE date. Even though the actual nature of the action is a conversion to a new appointment, a 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 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 Student Career Experience Program earn annual and sick leave. Students in the Student Temporary Employment Program earn annual sick leave provided their appointment duration is for at least 90 days.

Are students eligible for health and life insurance benefits?

For newly employed students, health 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?

There are no limits, however, it is 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 still 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, school 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 the Student Career Experience Program, there must be a written agreement and a formally arranged schedule of school and work. Please see Form 9-3076 in PDF format under the Apply section.

Please note: To view PDFs install the Acrobat® Reader

Summary of Benefits

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.

For New Employees on STEP or SCEP Appointments under the
Student Employment Educational Program (SEEP)
Yes Yes SALARY INCREASES - Federal employees usually receive a cost of living 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 cost-of-living areas. See U. S. Office of Personnel Management Information on Federal Pay for further information.
  Yes GS SALARY (STEP) INCREASES - In addition, all SCEP 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.
Yes Yes WG SALARY (STEP) INCREASES - STEP employees in wage graded positions are eligible for periodic increases.
  Yes GENEROUS RETIREMENT BENEFITS - SCEP employees new to the Federal Government are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and 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.
  Yes THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN - After an initial waiting period of six to twelve months, FERS employees may contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a tax-deferred retirement savings and investment program similar to a 401(k) plan. More information about TSP is available from the Thrift Savings Plan Website


however you must plan to be in the SCEP 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 from a number of fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations (HMO's). 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.
Yes   DELAYED HEALTH INSURANCE - STEP employees are eligible to elect health insurance coverage after one year of continuous service. STEPs may cover themselves as well as eligibile family members but must pay both the employee and Government shares of the premium.
  Yes LIFE INSURANCE - Full-time and part-time SCEP employees 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. STEP employees are not eligible for Life Insurance.


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.
Yes Yes 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.
Yes Yes EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM - Employees and their family members are eligible for confidential counseling by professional counselors who can help you deal with personal problems. Services vary by location.
Yes Yes MEDICARE - Employees contribute 1.45% of salary to Medicare and may be eligible for hospital insurance benefits through the Medicare program at age 65.
Yes Yes 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.
Yes Yes 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.)
Yes Yes 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.
Yes Yes WORKERS COMPENSATION - Employees who are injured on the job may receive benefits through the provisions of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). 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.
Yes Yes 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 bonds, loans or allotments of your choice.
Yes Yes TUITION ASSISTANCE - Employee under the SEEP program may be eligible for tuition assistance.
Yes Yes TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES -Training can include on-the-job training, seminars, and classroom studies.
Yes Yes MOBILITY OPPORTUNITIES - If you want to move to another office within our organization (because of switching studies, schools, or simply because your interests have changed), we have many possibilities for movement available to you. This includes both internal and external movements within the Federal Government as well as geographical movements within the same organization.


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