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Upward Mobility Program Fact Sheet

The USGS Upward Mobility Program is a unique training program that enables managers to provide career development and growth opportunities to Department of Interior and/or USGS employees in positions that are at the GS-9 level or below (or equivalent wage grade) and have a career ladder of GS-10 or below (or equivalent wage grade). Through the Upward Mobility Program, eligible employees apply for entry training positions. If selected, they are placed in the entry position and receive training specifically designed to qualify them for the target position at the end of the training period. Upon successful completion of the training program, the employee is then reassigned or promoted to the target position. If the target position has a career ladder, the employee may then be promoted non-competitively to the next grade in the career ladder when eligible up to the highest grade level of the career ladder.


Participation Criteria

To be eligible, the employee must:

  • Be a current Department of Interior employee serving under a career or career-conditional appointment, or a limited or excepted appointment that provides for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment. Management may limit the opportunities to USGS employees who meet this criteria.
  • Be in a position at the GS-9 level or below (or equivalent wage grade) that has a career ladder of GS-10 or below (or equivalent wage grade).
  • Apply for an Upward Mobility Program position that has an entry level at the same or lower grade level of the position currently held by the employee.
  • Have a current annual performance rating equivalent to "Results Achieved."
  • Meet any applicable education requirements and selective factors stated in the Qualification Requirements section of the vacancy announcement. (For entry into the Upward Mobility Program, applicants do not need to meet the additional OPM general and specialized experience qualification requirements, but they must have the aptitude to acquire the necessary skills for the position.)


How the Program Works

  1. The entry position is advertised. Eligible employees apply via the USAJOBS and answer questions designed to measure their potential and ability to acquire the necessary skills.
  2. Resumes are reviewed by the servicing personnel office for eligibility and candidates are referred to the selecting official for consideration.
  3. Once a selection is made, a Training Plan is developed for the trainee which identifies the specific training the trainee needs to fully qualify for the target position at the end of the training period. The training experience may be given double credit: 1 month of training may equal 2 months of experience.
  4. Employees selected for Upward Mobility Program opportunities at a lower grade level than the positions they currently hold are entitled to pay retention if their existing salary cannot be accommodated within the salary range of the lower Upward Mobility Program grade.
  5. On a quarterly basis, the supervisor evaluates the trainee's performance, progress, and training. The trainee evaluates the training received and provides comments and constructive criticism on training still needed.
  6. Upon successful completion of the training plan, the trainee is reassigned or promoted to the target position.
  7. If a trainee does not satisfactorily complete the Program for any reason, those who were reassigned into the Program will be placed in a position equivalent in grade and tenure to the position held before selection into the Program. For those who volunteered to take a change to a lower grade to participate in the Program, all efforts will be made to re-promote the trainee to a position equivalent in grade and tenure to the one the trainee held prior to entering the Program, if such a position is available. If an equivalent position is not available, the employee will be reassigned to a position at the lower grade and if applicable, pay retention will continue until the employee is no longer eligible for pay retention.


Further Questions

Questions regarding the Upward Mobility Program can be addressed to the Servicing Personnel Office. The USGS Upward Mobility Program Survey Manual Chapter also provides additional information regarding the Program.


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