National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research Ecologist, ZP-0408-3 (DE/CR) in Santa Cruz, California

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • 1 vacancy - Santa Cruz, CA
Work Schedule is Full Time / Career or Career-Conditional - Permanent

Opened Monday 10/17/2016 (3 day(s) ago)

** Closes Thursday 10/27/2016 (7 day(s) away)

Job Overview

About the Agency

This position is located in the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC), Fisheries Ecology Division (FED) in Santa Cruz, California.

This position will be filled under the DOC Alternative Personnel System (CAPS). This system replaced the Federal GS pay plan and structure. Under CAPS, positions are classified by career, pay plan, and pay band. The ZP-3 is equivalent to the GS-11/12.

The full performance level of this position is ZP-4. The ZP-4 is equivalent to the GS-13/14.

If you are selected for a position with further promotion potential, you may be non-competitively promoted if you perform successfully and if recommended by management.

This position is also announced under vacancy number NMFS-SWC-2017-0001, which is open to status candidates. You must apply to both announcements if you want to be considered for both.

*A one year probationary period may be required.

Payment of relocation expenses* is not** authorized.

This position* is not** in the bargaining unit.

NOTES: *This vacancy may be used to fill other Research Ecologist, ZP-0408-3 FPL 4 positions throughout NOAA. The position must be alike (e.g.: within the same geographic locations, same grade/band requires the same qualifications as indicated in this vacancy announcement).


As a Research Ecologist, you will perform the following duties:

  • Design scientific field studies and laboratory experiments aimed at improving the understanding of California’s anadromous fish populations.
  • Coordinate with other researchers to support the development of decision support tools related to anadromous fish habitat and ecosystem management.
  • Prepare research proposals and grants to fund and support all aspects of research, including salaries, equipment and supplies, contracts, and travel.
  • Apply quantitative methods to analyze the results of field studies and laboratory experiments.
  • Provide expertise and scientific advice to policy makers through service on technical advisory committees as well as publish scientific manuscripts and deliver oral presentations. These duties are described at the FPL ZP-4, the ZP-3 is developmental leading to such performance.
Travel Required
  • Occasional Travel
  • Must be able to travel to remote field locations for up to two weeks at a time.
Relocation Authorized
  • No
Job Requirements
Key Requirements
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or National to apply.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be suitable for Federal employment.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • Qualifications requirements must be met by closing date of announcement.

Qualification requirements in the vacancy announcements are based on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualification Standards Handbook, which contains federal qualification standards. This handbook is available on the Office of Personnel Management's website located at:

BASIC REQUIREMENTS: This position requires applicants to meet a Basic Education Requirement in addition to at least one year of specialized experience or a substitution of education for experience in order to be found minimally qualified. You MUST meet the following basic education requirements:

  • Degree: biology, or a related field of science underlying ecological research that included at least 30 semester hours in basic and applied biological sciences. These hours must have included at least 9 semester hours in ecology, and 12 semester hours in physical and mathematical sciences. Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations e.g., professional; philanthropic, religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies; knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

To qualify at the ZP-3 or GS-11 level:

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: In addition to meeting the Basic Requirement listed above, applicants must also possess one full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZP-2 or GS-09 in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

  • Conducting research on the ecology of terrestrial or aquatic organisms using advanced quantitative methods;
  • Writing scientific research proposals; and
  • Authoring peer-reviewed scientific research publications. OR

EDUCATION: Two (2) years of progressively higher graduate level education leading to a Master's degree, or a Master’s or equivalent graduate degree in ecology, restoration ecology, aquatic ecology or other field directly related to the position.


COMBINATION: An equivalent combination of graduate level education and specialized experience is qualifying.

Note: Only graduate education in excess of one year is qualifying for combination.

CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT: The incumbent must possess a valid driver's license to use federal motor vehicle to attend interagency meetings twice a month, meetings with partners once a week, and for access to and from research sites on a regular and recurring basis.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: Must be able to lift items greater than 25lbs.

*College Transcript:If you are qualifying based on education, submit a copy of your college transcript that lists college courses detailing each course by the number and department (i.e., bio 101, math 210, etc.), course title, number of credit hours and grade earned. You must submit evidence that any education completed in a foreign institution is equivalent to U.S. education standards with your resume. You may submit an unofficial copy of the transcript at the initial phase of the application process. If course content cannot be easily identified from the title of the course as listed on your transcript, you must submit an official course description from the college/university that reflects the content at the time the course was taken.*

Note: Your college transcript is used to verify successful completion of degree, or college course work. An official college transcript will be required before you can report to duty.**

Applicants must meet ALL application requirements, to include a complete online resume, by 11:59 p.m. EASTERN TIME (ET) on the closing date of this announcement.

Security Clearance

Public Trust - Background Investigation

Additional Information
What To Expect Next

You will be notified of your application status through USAJOBS at four points during the hiring process, as applicable. You can check the status of your application by accessing the USAJOBS website at and clicking on “Track Your Online Application.” The four points of notification are:

  1. Application Received or Application Incomplete
  2. Minimum Qualification Requirement Met or Minimum Qualification Not Met;
  3. Eligible (Application Referred to the Selecting Official) or Eligible (Application Not Referred to the Selecting Official); and
  4. Selected or Not Selected.

Review our benefits

Other Information

ICTAP candidates will be eligible if it is determined that they have exceeded the minimum qualifications for the position by attaining at least a rating of Silver (Well Qualified). Information about ICTAP eligibility is on the Office of Personnel Management’s Career Transition Resources website at: Employee Guide to Career Transition

ICTAP applicants MUST submit the following documents:

  1. A copy of your RIF separation notice; notice of proposed removal for failure to relocate; notice of disability annuity termination; certification from your former agency that it cannot place you after your recovery from a compensable injury; or certification from the National Guard Bureau or Military Department that you are eligible for disability retirement;
  2. A copy of your SF-50 “Notification of Personnel Action” documenting your RIF separation, noting your positions, grade level, and duty location, and/or Agency certification of inability to place you through RPL, etc;
  3. A copy of your latest performance appraisal including your rating; and
  4. Any documentation from your agency that shows your current promotion potential. NOAA participates in e-Verify. E-Verify is an Internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that enables participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

Salary Range: $70,333.00 to $109,592.00 / Per Year

Series & Grade: ZP-0408-3/3

Promotion Potential: 3

Supervisory Status: No

Who May Apply: All qualified United States Citizens or Nationals.

Control Number: 453528000

Job Announcement Number: NMFS-SWC-2017-0002