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Pay and Compensation

There are five major pay systems at NIST: Alternative Personnel Management System (APMS), Executive-Level Pay (SES and ST employees), General Schedule (GS employees), Federal Wage System (FWS), and Experts and Consultants (ED, EF, and EG employees). Learn more about each of these pay systems.

Grade, Band, and Pay Retention

Employees (except those on time-limited appointments), who are involuntarily changed to a lower level position through no fault of their own, generally are entitled to retain their grades or their career paths and bands for two years. When this two-year period ends and the positions are reduced in grade or band, these employees are entitled to the lowest scheduled rate of pay in the lower grade or band which meets or exceeds their current rate of pay. If the current rate of pay is higher than any scheduled rate in the lower grade or band, the employees retain their current pay rate or 150 percent of the maximum rate of the new grade or band, whichever is less. While employees receive retained pay, they are entitled to 50 percent of any increase in the maximum rate of the newly assigned grade or band. APMS employees on retained pay would be ineligible for a pay-for-performance pay increase as their pay is already in excess of the maximum rate of the pay band.

Pay for your Position

Managers and supervisors in charge of NIST's programs decide how the work will be organized and what the duties of each job will be. For every job, a formal position description (PD) is prepared and "classified," and all employees receive a copy of their PD. When a position is classified, an occupational series and pay band is assigned based on the duties and responsibilities of the position, and that determines the rate of pay for the position (along with the geographical area in which the employee works).

Pay Increases

The rate of pay for NIST Alternative Personnel Management System (APMS) employees may be adjusted periodically to correspond with pay rate changes approved by the President for general schedule (GS) employees according to changes in pay rates in comparable positions in private industry, locality pay increases, and a variety of other factors. In addition, employees' pay may be increased through the annual performance appraisal review process.

Under the APMS, employees are considered for performance-related pay increases and bonuses as a part of the annual performance appraisal process.

Under the Federal Wage System (FWS), each grade of a regular wage schedule (WG) has five rates to which an employee may progress with satisfactory work performance. Employees under a regular wage schedule may advance to Rate 2 after 26 weeks at Rate 1; to Rate 3 after 78 weeks at Rate 2; and to Rates 4 and 5 after 104 weeks at the next lower rate.

Different prevailing rate wage schedules are established for different types of work, e.g., apprentice (WT), leader (WL), supervisor (WS), or planner-estimator (WD). Rates of pay for these prevailing rate jobs are different in different localities and are set by periodic surveys of the rates being paid by typical employers in each locality.

Pay increases for SES and ST-3104 employees result from performance pay adjustments.


A promotion is a change of an employee (1) to a higher band in the same career path or (2) to a band in another career path in combination with an increase in salary. The minimum pay increase for promotion is 6 percent of salary or the amount required to reach the minimum of the new band if that amount is greater than 6 percent. There is no maximum percentage, except that the new salary may not exceed the ceiling of the new band.

Supervisory Differentials

Supervisory differentials are implemented in two ways: (1) by providing higher band ceilings for supervisors in all career paths (6 percent in most instances), and (2) by increasing the base salaries of new supervisors (3 percent) and division chiefs (additional 3 percent) in the Scientific and Engineering (ZP) Career Path. The differential is removed when an employee moves from a supervisory position to a non-supervisory position. The removal of a differential is not an adverse action. In rare cases, exceptions may be approved to allow a former supervisor to retain his/her supervisory differential.


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Office of Human Resources Management
301-975-3000 Telephone
301-948-6107 Facsimile
100 Bureau Drive, M/S 1720
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1720