National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The National Weather Service is creating a more efficient and streamlined career path for the bulk of its meteorologists with the implementation of our GS 5-12 Initiative within the US Civil Service General Schedule (GS) guidelines.  We are  positioning the workforce to have more control over how quickly they can build skills to advance their careers and best serve their community’s needs for weather services by moving away from traditional career promotion methods.  This change was proposed and advocated by our workforce. Many of our early-career meteorologists will now have more opportunities to use their science and skills in new ways as they enter the agency.

Newly hired NWS Meteorologists take part in the “New Hires” Training Class at the NWS Traning Center in Kansas City, MO
Newly hired NWS Meteorologists take part in the “New Hires” Training Class at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City, MO

The biggest change removes the classification of our Meteorologist  “Intern” (GS 5-11) and “General Forecaster” (GS 9-12) positions and creates a single Meteorologist, GS 5-12 career-track with promotion potential to the GS-12 level. This update also changes the way NWS hires new meteorologists into the workforce.  Entry-level job vacancies will no longer be labeled as “Meteorologist Intern” on the USAJobs website and will now be advertised as “Meteorologist” at the GS 5/7/9 level.  Once hired, these positions have the opportunity to now be promoted to the full GS-12 level without having to apply and compete either at their duty station or move from office-to-office.

The new career path is paired with a competency model that is supported by both training and work experience, to include web-based modules, live and recorded webinars, simulations, forecast challenges, seasonal readiness training, and on-the-job experience.  Managers will work with employees at all levels to use the competency model and perform the training and on-the-job actions necessary to demonstrate competencies along their career progression.

This initiative also boosts the agency’s ability to deliver services to local communities and support decision makers by fully utilizing the talent and skills of all our forecasters to meet the mission. Now we can take an “all hands on deck” approach to assisting our core partners ahead of and during hazardous weather.

We have already begun training our workforce on the new competency models and are currently transitioning positions at local Weather Forecast Offices, Weather Service Office Pago Pago, the Weather Prediction Center and the National Hurricane Center to their new titles and career path.  We look forward to a newly energized early-career workforce, eager to bring new skills and ideas into this paradigm.