Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (2023)

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs), or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs)

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a corps of approximately 7,000 men and women who administer public programs at the top levels of federal government. Positions are primarily managerial and supervisory. SES pay is linked to individual performance. Basic annual salaries for 2020 range from $131,239 to $197,300. Members of the SES are not eligible for locality pay and some positions include additional recruitment incentives.

Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (1)

SES Menu

  • The Senior Executive Service
  • How SES Jobs Are Filled
  • Qualification Requirements – Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)
  • SES Job Vacancies (Current National Job Listings)
  • How to Apply
    • Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (2) Federal Resume Writing Service
  • 2022 Senior Executive Service Pay Schedule (SES & EX Schedules)
  • Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (3) Senior Executive Service Appraisal System
  • Resources to help you write your application package
    • Federal Candidate Development Program (CDP)
    • Application links
  • SES (Continued)
    • History of the SES
    • Examining Process
    • Recruitment Incentives – Up to 100% of Salary
    • Candidate Development Programs

The Senior Executive Service

The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) established a distinct personnel system that applies the same executive qualifications requirements to all SES members. The new system was designed to provide greater agency flexibility for selecting and developing federal executives within a framework that preserves the larger corporate interests of government. The SES covers managerial, supervisory, and policy positions above GS-15 (including Executive Schedule IV or V or equivalent positions) that are not filled by Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation.

How SES Jobs Are Filled

Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (4) Search SES Job Vacancies

(Video) Benefits of the Senior Executive Service

Each federal agency independently determines the qualifications required for SES positions, and whether to consider only current federal civil service appointees or all qualified candidates. There are two methods of entry into the SES:
Apply directly to a federal agency for a specific SES position or apply for a federal agency’s SES Candidate Development Program ( SESCDP). Qualifications Review Board (QRB) certified graduates of an SESCDP advertised to “all qualified Civil Service appointees” or “all qualified persons” are eligible for (but not guaranteed) career appointment to an SES position without further competition.

Qualifications Requirements

OHM convenes Qualifications Review Boards (QRBs) to provide an independent peer review of candidates proposed for initial career appointment to the SES. The candidate cannot be appointed to the SES until the QRB certifies his/her executive qualifications. The QRB review is the critical last step in the SES selection process. By focusing attention on executive qualifications, the QRB helps ensure that technical skills do not outweigh leadership expertise in the selection of new senior executives.

Applicants must meet two types of qualifications for SES positions:

  • The Executive Core Qualifications, which apply to every SES position; and
  • Specific, professional/technical qualifications (if any) for the position being advertised.

Executive Core Qualifications ( ECQs) common to all SES positions:

  • Leading Change — The ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.
  • Leading People — The ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.
  • Results Driven — The ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.
  • Business Acumen — The ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.
  • Building Coalitions — The ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

The ECQs are mandatory qualification standards for every SES position. Agencies may also identify specific, professional/technical qualifications for the position being filled. The qualification standards for an advertised SES position are listed in the agency’s vacancy announcement. Applicants need to obtain a copy of the agency’s vacancy announcement to respond to these requirements.

(Video) The SES and the ECQ's

How to Apply

  • Check for SES vacancy announcements on Call the agency contact, listed on the SES job announcement, for clarifications needed. Ask for additional information about application procedures and detailed qualifications requirements and print a copy of the SES Qualifications Guide. Be prepared to address the ECQs as outlined above and in the guide.

Read the job announcement thoroughly and pay special attention to any supplemental documentation that may be required. If you neglect to send in required documentation your package will be rejected. Use the same techniques outlined earlier in this chapter to evaluate the job announcement and focus on the ECQs. Your work descriptions must also showcase the required duties, responsibilities, expertise, and education required for the advertised position.

The SES application packages are complex to say the least and often require professional assistance. It is helpful to consult with professional certified Executive SES Writers who have experience writing executive resumes. They write hard-hitting ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications) that tell the real story behind your ability to Lead Change, Lead People, Drive Results, Build Coalitions and employ Business Acumen. Professionally prepared application packages will include all 27 core fundamental competencies throughout your five ECQs and your TQs (Technical Qualifications) must provide succinct examples of your experiences, accomplishments and results. Consider seekingprofessional assistance especially if this is your first SES bid or if you have been unsuccessful with previous attempts to enter the SES ranks.

Send your application directly to the address shown on the vacancy announcement or submit it online if allowed. Required documentation is generally faxed or sent direct to the human resource office listed in the job announcement. Apply promptly to meet closing dates.

Senior Executive Service Basic Pay Schedule (SES) (2022)

Salary Table 2022-EX
Basic Pay for the Executive Schedule (EX)

(Video) Preparing Your Senior Executive Service Package - Part 1

Effective January 2022

Level I$226,300
Level II$203,700
Level III$187,300
Level IV$176,300
Level V$165,300

Section 749 of division C of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, continues a freeze on the payable rates of pay for certain senior political officials through January 2, 2022.

Senior Executive Service Appraisal System

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcedin November of 2018 the following changes to the Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior-Level (SL) and Scientific and Professional (ST) performance appraisal system certification process:

  • Automatic renewal of fully certified appraisal systems based on OPM/Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review of annual data submission to determine ratings, pay, and awards decisions comply with statute and regulation;
  • Agencies are no longer required to submit performance plans with certification requests; and
  • Agencies will have greater flexibility to demonstrate pay differentiation using the combination of performance-based pay adjustments and performance awards, which will be referred to as “annual performance-based compensation”

OPM Acting Director Margaret Weichert stated in amemo to federal agency leadersthat these changes are meant to “better support agencies in meeting their mission, enhance service and stewardship, and prepare for the Workforce of the 21st Century in support of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA)” and“reduce agency burden by removing procedural hurdles.”

(Video) Writing a Federal Senior Executive Service Application with Kathryn Troutman and Diane Hudson Burns

OPM based the decision on agency feedback and the vision for effective governance set forth in the PMA.
Implementation will begin on Monday, January 7, 2019.

Resources to Help You Write Your Application Package

SES and most high level management applications require considerable detail. The SES and high level, GS-14 and above, management positions application and resume process can be intimidating to say the least. You have to write a professional application package and must spend quality time to package it correctly and to include all of the required information that is needed for these applications.

With a little coaching, insight, and succinct samples that are provided in the Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service, you too can prepare and submit a professional SES application. SES applications can take up to a week to research, compile, and write a professional package that will get you hired and that’s if you know the ins and outs of the process, MOST DON’T. Midlevel applicants can easily spend several days just compiling key information in preparation for completing their SES application. If you need assistance you can use a professional service to compile and write your application.

Request a SES Application Consultation
Certified Federal Resume Writers

(Video) Introduction to the Senior Executive Service

Additional Resources

Senior Executive Service (SES) Jobs and Application Guidance. (5)

Senior Executive Service (SES), Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs),
Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs)
or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs)

Return to top of page


How do I prepare for SES interview? ›

Take the time to frame your responses thoughtfully, fully answering each question. Concentrate on the positive elements of your past experiences. Listen carefully to the questions and any remarks the interviewers make. Ask for questions to be repeated for clarity, if necessary.

Is it hard to be SES? ›

Competition for SES jobs are steep and the application process is rigorous. Applicants must develop detailed Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) statements that demonstrate a range of management and leadership competencies.

What are the responsibilities as an SES? ›

Members of the SES serve in key positions just below the top Presidential appointees, and are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the Federal workforce. These leaders operate and oversee nearly every Government activity in approximately 75 Federal agencies.

How are SES selected? ›

All SES candidates must have their executive qualifications certified by an independent QRB before being appointed as career members of the SES. The QRB review and certification is the last critical step in the SES selection process. QRBs certify that an SES candidate possesses broad leadership skills.

How do you answer SES questions? ›

Your answers should be detailed in describing the situation or problem, what you did and when, who was involved, what your contribution was, and what the outcome or result of your actions was. Be sure to use “I” not we when answering the questions.

What is SES pay scale? ›

Senior Executive Service Basic Pay Schedule (SES) (2022)
Level I$226,300
Level II$203,700
Level III$187,300
Level IV$176,300
1 more row

Do SES get pay raises? ›

In general, agencies are to pay SES members at least as much as any employee they supervise. Executives get raises based on individual performance and/or contribution to the agency's performance, as determined by the performance management system.

Are SES positions worth it? ›

Benefits of SES Careers

So- what's the biggest benefit of an SES Career? Pay is the most tangible benefit. Not only do you get paid more than a GS-15 (the minimum pay level is set at 120% of a GS-15) but your pay is also merit based.

Can Senior Executive Service Be Fired? ›

SES career appointees have civil service protections; they may only be fired or suspended for more than 14 days for misconduct, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or failure to accept a directed reassignment or to accompany a position in a transfer of function.

Do SES get bonuses? ›

Awards. Performance awards (bonuses) may be given only to career executives and are for performance during the most recently completed appraisal period. Agencies must implement and fund an SES performance awards program, as required by statute (5 U.S.C. 5384).

Is SES a good company to work for? ›

74% of employees at SES Advisors, Inc. say it is a great place to work compared to 57% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company. SES Advisors, Inc.

Why do you want to be an SES? ›


SESers may earn the satisfaction of improving government programs that may impact the health, education, security and standard–of-living of people all over the world as well as the uses of worldwide natural resources. As one SESer says,” Everyone in government can make a difference.

Are SES positions competitive? ›

SES positions may be filled under competitive or non-competitive appointment.

Are all SES appointed? ›

Appointments may be made only to General positions and cannot exceed 25% of the agency's SES position allocation. Governmentwide, only 10% of SES positions may be filled by noncareer appointees.

Can a GS 14 apply for a SES position? ›

There are roughly 161,000 GS-14, GS-15 employees and recently retired senior military officers who are currently eligible to apply to SES Positions.

How do you nail an executive interview? ›

Here's how you can prepare for an executive-level interview;
  1. Do your research. ...
  2. Study and prepare for executive-level interview questions. ...
  3. Ask questions. ...
  4. Prepare open-ended questions. ...
  5. Dress appropriately. ...
  6. Deliver your introduction with confidence. ...
  7. Talk about your past experience. ...
  8. Begin and end your interview professionally.
2 Jun 2021

How can I ACE executive interview? ›

Acing an Executive Level Interview
  1. Do Your Due Diligence. Do your research beforehand. ...
  2. Ask for a Prep Call. ...
  3. Have Examples Prepared. ...
  4. Don't Try to Take Control. ...
  5. Be Candid. ...
  6. Do the Little Things. ...
  7. Close Like a Pro.

What makes you the best candidate for this management position? ›

  • Highlight specific traits in your personality or relevant skills that make you the best candidate for the role. ...
  • Highlight your accomplishments that are relevant to the job. ...
  • Match your skills to the job requirements/description. ...
  • Know what you bring to the position and how it helps the company. ...
  • Confidence is key.

Can you negotiate an SES salary? ›

SES salary bands change each year; find the latest information at this link. If your military gross pay is below the Step 10 or top SES pay level, you may want to try to negotiate a salary above your military pay. It is typical for the agency to match, but not exceed, your military salary.

Can SES earn credit hours? ›

SES members are prohibited from accumulating credit hours under a flexible work schedule program. SES members can use credit hours accumulated prior to their SES appointment. However, they may not receive compensation in lieu of any unused credit hours.

How many SES positions are there? ›

Find a list of Career Reserved SES positions. There are about 8,000 SES employees across all cabinet level agencies.

How much annual leave can a SES carry over? ›

5376 may carryover a 90 days (or 720 hours) of annual leave at the start of each new leave year. SES and SFS have a personal ceiling o 90 days (or 720 hours) of annual leave that may be carried into a new leave year.

What is the difference between SL and SES? ›

Senior Level (SL) Positions

Most Senior Level employees are in non-executive positions whose duties are broad and complex enough to be classified above GS 15. However, in a few agencies that are statutorily exempt from inclusion in the Senior Executive Service (SES), executive positions are staffed with SL employees.

How much do SES Band 1 get paid? ›

Example calculation: Potential remuneration for the Band 1 role is $199,297 (BRP) up to a maximum of $222,927. Remuneration is determined at $199,297 (the bottom of the range) based on the assessment of the individual senior executive's capability and knowledge & experience.

How big are SES bonuses? ›

The average bonus for career SES members was $11,928 in fiscal 2016, an increase of $1,186 when compared with the fiscal 2015 report.

Do you need a masters degree to be an SES? ›

Most SES positions do not require education at all! I have a number of successful SES candidates with high school diplomas and no college at all. While there are some occupations (attorney, contract specialist, social worker, among others) that require degrees, most federal occupations do not.

What are the advantages of SES? ›

SES members are entitled to accrue annual leave at the rate of 8 hours per biweekly pay period and can accumulate a total of up to 90 days of annual leave per pay calendar year. All Federal employees including SES members earn 13 days of sick leave per pay calendar year.

What is the next level after senior executive? ›


What is next position after senior executive? ›

Manager,Manager.....followed by Deputy General Manager,then General Manager etc..

What is the military equivalent of an SES? ›

Military and Civilian Pay Grades
Military GradeRankCivilian Grade
O-8Rear Admiral (Upper Half)SES (ES-5&4)
O-7Rear Admiral (Lower Half)SES (ES-1-4)
13 more rows

What SES band is a secretary? ›

(a) KMP for the Department have been assessed to be the Secretary, the Commissioner, substantive Deputy Secretaries, substantive Deputy Commissioners, any officer occupying a substantive role at the SES Band 3 level or above, and potentially any individual who reports directly to the Secretary.

What is a Tier 1 SES? ›

SES-1 is the highest level in the SES payscale, held by Presidential appointees like the Secretary of State. SES-5 is the lowest level, and is held by top officials in smaller departments and agencies.

What is a Tier 4 SES? ›

Executive Schedule - ES Level 4 Pay

The Executive Schedule (ES) sets the yearly salaries for top government officials, including the leaders and senior personnel in over 75 Federal government agencies. ES Level IV employees report to an Under Secretary or Administrator of a major federal agency.

Which company is SES under? ›

Société Anonyme

How much do SES get paid Australia? ›

Australian Public Service Act employment salary ranges by classification level 2018-19
Minimum SalaryMaximum Salary
SES 1$164,152$237,4621
EL 2$118,376$190,2304
EL 1$101,955$142,0875
APS 6$80,669$94,9306
9 more rows

What is an SES level employee? ›

Senior Executive Service (SES)

The 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.

Do you need a PHD for SES? ›

A doctorate is still generally not a requirement to land SES jobs. However, if that degree helps you develop the exact SES skills and leadership experience most hiring boards seek, then they should be factored into mid-level career moves.

What does the SES stand for? ›

State Emergency Service (SES) Accessibility Contact Us. 000 for fire or life threatening emergencies. 132 500 for SES emergency assistance.

What does SES in the government stand for? ›

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a corps of men and women who administer public programs at the highest levels of Federal Government utilizing well-honed executive skills and broad perspectives of government and public service.

How many SES level 1 are there? ›

Here's a list of 21 high-level federal positions that are classified under Level 1 of the Executive Schedule.

What are the 5 executive core qualifications? ›

On This Page
  • ECQ 1: Leading Change.
  • ECQ 2: Leading People.
  • ECQ 3: Results Driven.
  • ECQ 4: Business Acumen.
  • ECQ 5: Building Coalitions.

What is an SES Level 3? ›

Executive Schedule - ES Level 3 Pay

The Executive Schedule (ES) sets the yearly salaries for top government officials, including the leaders and senior personnel in over 75 Federal government agencies. ES Level III positions are typically Under Secretaries or administrators of a major agency.

How hard is it to become a SES? ›

Competition for SES jobs are steep and the application process is rigorous. Applicants must develop detailed Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) statements that demonstrate a range of management and leadership competencies.

Is there an age limit to join the SES? ›

Volunteers can join the NSW SES at ages 16 and 17 but must complete a Parent and Guardian Consent form at the time of joining. Volunteers aged under 18 can still participate in most NSW SES activities but cannot attend incidents which may involve trauma, such as Road Crash Rescue.

How do you become a senior executive? ›

How to Become a Senior Executive
  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in business administration or a related field. ...
  2. Gain experience in the business world, preferably in a management or executive role. ...
  3. Develop strong leadership skills. ...
  4. Understand financial statements and budgeting. ...
  5. Be able to make decisions quickly and under pressure.
8 Oct 2022

Can you be hired at a higher GS step? ›

New hires typically start at step 1 of the GS pay grade that he/she was hired into within the federal government. However, there are exceptions and the applicant can request a higher salary before accepting the position. You MUST request the increase prior to officially accepting the position.

Can you get hired as a GS 12? ›

GS-12 is the highest grade one can achieve before the position becomes "Career Competitive" meaning that the position must be listed on and be available any qualified U.S. citizen to apply.

What is the most an SES can make? ›

Pay rates
Agencies with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System$135,468$203,700
Agencies without a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System$135,468$187,300

What are the 3 SES? ›

The 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron is a component of the Space Training and Readiness Delta (Provisional). The 3rd SES was realigned under Space Delta 12 as of Aug. 27, 2021 and has been renamed as the 3rd Test and Evaluation Squadron. The unit is located on Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

Can SES earn travel comp time? ›

Members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), physicians, dentists, and other similarly situated employees are excluded. Intermittent employees are not eligible to earn and use compensatory time off for travel because they do not have a scheduled tour of duty for leave purposes.


1. How to Write ECQs in the SES Application
(Kathryn Troutman)
2. SES PAY SCALE EXPLAINED / Above my Pay Grade / USAJOBS TIPS and Salaries for Federal Employment
(Easy Federal Resumes and More)
3. Senior Executive Service (United States)
4. 6-11-2014 Viability of the Senior Executive Service
(GOP Oversight)
5. Senior Executive Service Guide to Software Program Management and Oversight
6. Ethics Illustrated: Five Rules Every Federal Senior Executive (SES) Must Know
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated: 11/03/2022

Views: 6539

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.