What Is the Military Rank Equivalent of GS Grades?

By protocol, government ranks above GS-15, such as senior executives or foreign service officers, can be equated with generals and admirals. GS-12 through GS-15 equate to field-grade officers O-4 through O6. GS-7 through GS-11 equate to company-grade officer ranks O-1 through O-3.

Below GS-7, government grades are equated with enlisted personnel rather than officers. GS-5 through GS-7 are ranked with non-commissioned officers ranks E-5 through E-9. All other government grades are ranked with regular enlisted military personnel.

This ranking equivalence is for etiquette and protocol purposes and is not intended for command or other responsibilities. Because the chain of command is different, a government employee cannot “outrank” a military member, though he may be seated at a banquet with admirals instead of sergeants.