The first step to determine which career path is best for you is to understand the differences between the federal services:
Competitive Service Excepted Service Senior Executive
Below includes information on each service to help you determine which service is right for you.
The competitive service includes all civilian positions in the Federal Government that are not specifically excepted from the civil service laws by or pursuant to statute, by the President, or by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) under Rule VI (5 Code of Federal Regulations Part 6), and that are not in the Senior Executive Service.
Search USAJOBS.gov for jobs in the competitive service.
Senior Executive Service The Senior Executive Service (SES) is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government. These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective of government and a public service commitment which is grounded in the Constitution. The keystone of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the SES was designed to be a corps of executives selected for their leadership qualifications. Members of the SES serve in the key positions just below the top Presidential appointees. SES members are the major link between these appointees and the rest of the Federal workforce.
To look for positions in the SES, visit http://www.usajobs.gov/SeniorExecutives or conduct an advanced search by electing to show only senior executive positions.
Excepted service positions are any federal or civil service positions, which are not in the competitive service or the Senior Executive Service. Excepted service agencies set their own qualification requirements and are not subject to the appointment, pay, and classification rules in title 5, United States Code. However, they are subject to veterans' preference. Some Federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), only have excepted service positions. In other instances, certain organizations or even specific positions within an agency may be excepted service. Positions may be in the excepted service by law, by executive order, or by action of OPM.