What Is the Federal Government Pay Scale?

The federal government pay scale is a payment system initiated to standardize government pay by establishing grade levels and steps for each type of federal job. The higher the grade level assigned to a job or a step, the greater the payment amount. These are known as General Schedule jobs.

The federal pay scale is set up to have a base payment amount for each grade and step level. The grades available are grade 1 to grade 15, both for salaried and hourly jobs. The number of steps for each grade level is 10. The government also adds a specified amount to the base pay according to geographic location or locality to account for cost-of-living differences across the country. There are 36 locality areas in all. The hourly pay rates also stipulate overtime amounts for each grade and level.

In addition to the grade and step payment setup, the federal government also divides some jobs into Wage Grade Families. Each of the Wage Grade Families has a specific payment amount. The families are WG 2500 through WG 9000. Tables for both General Service pay rates and Wage Grade Families are available online at FederalJobs.net.

On December 20, 2014, President Obama approved a 1 percent increase for all federal employees. The increase went into effect on January 1, 2015.