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About the NIST Alternative Personnel Management System (APMS)

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General Information

The NIST Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1987 established the NIST Personnel Management Demonstration Project to demonstrate an alternative personnel management system. The Demonstration Project became a permanent system on March 7, 1996, through the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. It is now referred to as the NIST Alternative Personnel Management System (APMS).The APMS is founded on the concepts of market sensitivity and competitiveness, pay for performance, administrative simplicity, management flexibility, budget neutrality, and government-wide applicability. The goals are to improve hiring of high-quality personnel and to more effectively compensate and retain high performers.

The APMS established objectives in pay, position classification, recruitment, qualifications examination, retention, performance management, employee development, and employee relations. The APMS was designed to recruit and retain quality staff; make compensation more competitive; link pay to performance; simplify position classification; streamline processing; improve the staffing process and get new hires aboard faster; increase the manager's role and accountability in personnel management; and facilitate adoption of the system by other agencies.

Basic System Features

Recruiting: NIST competes more effectively in the labor market through agency-based hiring (authorizes NIST to create its own candidate registers instead of using OPM registers); expanded direct-hiring for hard-to-fill positions; greater management involvement in recruiting and hiring; flexible entry salaries; recruiting allowances; and more flexible paid advertising.

Retention: NIST retains good performers more effectively through pay-for-performance, the higher pay potential of broad banding, supervisory differentials, and retention allowances.

Classification: NIST has simplified, accelerated, and improved the classification process through broad banding, generic NIST-specific classification standards, automated position descriptions, and delegation of authority to line managers.

Performance Appraisal: To more effectively support pay-for-performance, NIST uses a 7-level rating system.

Administration: NIST has streamlined the personnel administrative process through reduction of paperwork, automation of personnel processes, and delegation.

Line Management Authority: NIST has strengthened the manager's role in personnel management through delegation of authority and accountability.

All NIST employees, except wage-grade employees and the NIST Director, are included in the APMS. The APMS is managed by the Personnel Management Board (PMB) and chaired by the NIST Deputy Director. The Operating Unit Directors are the voting members.

Career Paths and Pay Bands

The most noticeable difference between the NIST APMS and the General Schedule (GS) system used by other agencies is that NIST positions are classified according to career path and pay band, instead of by GS grade. Career paths are categories of occupations grouped by similarities in work, qualification requirements, pay ranges, and career progression. The four career paths that arose from this philosophy are Scientific and Engineering (ZP), Scientific and Engineering Technician (ZT), Administrative (ZA), and Support (ZS). A pay band encompasses a broader salary and classification range than does a General Schedule (GS) grade. A single band usually covers the same range as two or more grades. For this reason, pay banding is often referred to as "broadbanding." Click here to view the NIST Career Path Chart. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required. Get Acrobat Reader.)

Listing of NIST Occupational Series

Scientific and Engineering (ZP) Positions:

Job Series Job Title
ZP-0101 Social Scientist
ZP-0110 Economist
ZP-0185 Social Worker
ZP-0199 Student Trainee (Social Science)
ZP-0399 Student Trainee (Computer Specialist)
ZP-0401 Biologist
ZP-0403 Microbiologist
ZP-0499 Student Trainee (Biological Science)
ZP-0601 Health Specialist
ZP-0690 Industrial Hygienist
ZP-0801 General Engineer
ZP-0803 Safety Engineer
ZP-0804 Fire Protection Engineer
ZP-0806 Materials Engineer
ZP-0808 Architect
ZP-0810 Civil Engineer
ZP-0819 Environmental Engineer
ZP-0830 Mechanical Engineer
ZP-0840 Nuclear Engineer
ZP-0850 Electrical Engineer
ZP-0854 Computer Engineer
ZP-0855 Electronics Engineer
ZP-0858 Biomedical Engineer
ZP-0892 Ceramics Engineer
ZP-0893 Chemical Engineer
ZP-0896 Industrial Engineer
ZP-0899 Student Trainee (Engineering)
ZP-1301 Physical Scientist
ZP-1306 Health Physicist
ZP-1310 Physicist
ZP-1320 Chemist
ZP-1321 Metallurgist
ZP-1330 Astronomer
ZP-1350 Geologist
ZP-1360 Oceanographer
ZP-1372 Geodesist
ZP-1384 Textile Technologist
ZP-1399 Student Trainee (Physical Science)
ZP-1515 Operations Research Analyst
ZP-1520 Mathematician
ZP-1529 Mathematical Statistician
ZP-1530 Statistician
ZP-1550 Computer Scientist
ZP-1599 Student Trainee (Mathematics)
ZP-2210 Information Technology Specialist
ZP-2299 Student Trainee (IT Specialist)

Administrative (ZA) Positions:

Job Series Job Title
ZA-0018 Safety and Occupational Health Spec.
ZA-0080 Security Specialist
ZA-0081 Fire Chief
ZA-0099 Student Trainee (General)
ZA-0170 Historian
ZA-0180 Counseling Psychologist
ZA-0201 Human Resources Specialist
ZA-0260 Equal Employment Specialist
ZA-0299 Student Trainee (HR Specialist)
ZA-0301 Administrative Specialist
ZA-0340 Program Manager
ZA-0341 Administrative Officer
ZA-0342 Support Services Specialist
ZA-0343 Management and Program Analyst
ZA-0391 Telecommunications Specialist
ZA-0399 Student Trainee (Administration)
ZA-0501 Financial Administration Specialist
ZA-0505 Financial Manager
ZA-0510 Accountant
ZA-0560 Budget Analyst
ZA-0599 Student Trainee (Financial Management)
ZA-0670 Health System Administrator
ZA-0671 Health System Specialist
ZA-0685 Public Health Analyst
ZA-1001 Information Specialist
ZA-1020 Illustrator
ZA-1035 Public Affairs Specialist
ZA-1060 Photographer
ZA-1071 Audio-Visual Production Specialist
ZA-1082 Writer-Editor
ZA-1083 Technical Writer-Editor
ZA-1084 Visual Information Specialist
ZA-1099 Student Trainee (Information)
ZA-1101 General Business Specialist
ZA-1102 Contract Specialist
ZA-1104 Property Disposal Specialist
ZA-1140 Trade Specialist
ZA-1150 Industrial Specialist
ZA-1160 Financial Analyst
ZA-1199 Student Trainee (Business)
ZA-1410 Librarian
ZA-1412 Technical Information Specialist
ZA-1420 Archivist
ZA-1499 Student Trainee (Librarian)
ZA-1601 General Facilities Manager
ZA-1640 Facility Operations Specialist
ZA-1654 Printing Services Specialist
ZA-1701 Education Specialist
ZA-1720 Education Program Specialist
ZA-1725 Public Health Educator
ZA-1730 Education Research Analyst
ZA-1740 Educational Services Specialist
ZA-2001 Supply Specialist
ZA-2003 Supply Management Specialist
ZA-2010 Inventory Management Specialist
ZA-2050 Cataloging Specialist
ZA-2101 Travel Management Specialist
ZA-2130 Traffic Management Specialist
ZA-2150 Transportation Officer

Support (ZS) Positions:

Job Series Job Title
ZS-0081 Firefighter
ZS-0083 Police Officer
ZS-0085 Security Guard
ZS-0086 Security Assistant
ZS-0203 Human Resources Assistant (OA)
ZS-0279 Student Trainee (Personnel Clerk)
ZS-0303 Administrative Support Assistant
ZS-0304 Information Receptionist
ZS-0305 Mail and File Clerk
ZS-0309 Correspondence Assistant
ZS-0318 Secretary
ZS-0326 Office Automation Assistant
ZS-0335 Computer Assistant
ZS-0342 Support Services Assistant
ZS-0344 Management Assistant
ZS-0350 Equipment Operator
ZS-0351 Printing Assistant
ZS-0357 Coding Assistant
ZS-0361 Equal Opportunity Assistant
ZS-0379 Student Trainee (Clerk)
ZS-0382 Telephone Operator
ZS-0394 Communications Assistant
ZS-0503 Financial Assistant
ZS-0525 Accounting Technician
ZS-0544 Civilian Pay Technician
ZS-0561 Budget Assistant
ZS-0579 Student Trainee (Financial Clerk)
ZS-1021 Office Draftsman
ZS-1087 Editorial Assistant
ZS-1105 Purchasing Agent
ZS-1106 Procurement Technician
ZS-1107 Property Disposal Technician
ZS-1411 Library Technician
ZS-1479 Student Trainee (Library Aid)
ZS-2005 Supply Technician
ZS-2102 Transportation Assistant

Scientific and Engineering Technician (ZT) Positions:

Job Series Job Title
ZT-0019 Safety Technician
ZT-0181 Psychology Technician
ZT-0332 Computer Operator
ZT-0404 Biological Technician
ZT-0479 Student Trainee (Biological Science)
ZT-0802 Engineering Technician
ZT-0809 Construction Representative
ZT-0818 Engineering Draftsman
ZT-0856 Electronics Technician
ZT-0879 Student Trainee (Engineering)
ZT-0895 Industrial Engineering Technician
ZT-1311 Physical Science Technician
ZT-1379 Student Trainee (Physical Science)
ZT-1521 Mathematics Technician
ZT-1579 Student Trainee (Mathematics)
ZT-1670 Equipment Specialist

Pay Ranges

The pay range for each band is generally equivalent to the pay range of the GS grades in the band, including GS locality pay rates. Supervisors have an additional range above the nonsupervisory ceiling of a band which they can move into through pay-for-performance. Click here to view the NIST Career Path Chart.