Applying for a federal role may seem daunting at first. But you’re in the right place for help. is designed to ensure your success.

Here you’ll find information on:

  • USAJOBS: This is the website for finding and applying for federal positions.
  • Federal resumes: You’ll see that in most cases federal resumes call for more detail than a standard resume.
  • The federal pay scale: Use it to apply for jobs that fit your experience level and learn what salary to expect.
  • Student, Internship and scholarship programs: These are specific to the U.S. Forest Service.

Most federal agencies use USAJOBS to post available positions. To apply for Forest Service jobs, you’ll need to create an account and learn how to use the USAJOBS site.

  • Create a USAJOBS profile.
    • This enables you to save searches and job postings, and track the status of your application.
  • Use filters and preferences to narrow down job opportunities.
    • You can narrow your searches by agency, type of job (also known as a “job series”), location and other categories., location and other categories.
  • Read job postings carefully.
    • Pay close attention to all the details in a job announcement to make sure you’re eligible and qualified for the position—and that you’ve completed the entire application properly.
    • Read each position description carefully, no matter how long it is. Pay attention to key information, including the eligibility requirements, required documents and how to apply.
  • Apply!
    • Click on the “Apply” button and follow the steps from there. You will automatically be sent to the agency’s hiring site. Complete the questionnaire, review your information carefully, and submit. You should receive an email from USAJOBS confirming your application.


USAJOBS has effective filtering tools. You can use them to quickly find early career job openings in forestry and science roles:

For more information on getting started with USAJOBS, click here.

Federal resumes

USAJOBS will ask you to upload a resume as part of the application process. The good news is the site has a feature to guide you through building a federal resume. The main thing to note about federal resumes is that they’re longer and more detailed than traditional ones.

Pay careful attention to the job posting. It often has information about what your resume should include and how you’ll be evaluated.

  • DON’T worry about limiting your resume to a single page.
  • DO be sure to include any experience relevant to the job posting and tailor it to the job requirements.

Tips for building your federal resume:

  1. Include roles outside of paid work that highlight your experience. Have you done volunteer work? Are you involved in a student group?
  2. Describe your achievements using numbers. Can you use percentages, dollar amounts, etc., to illustrate your achievements?
  3. Tailor your resume for each open position. Your knowledge, skills and experience should reflect the duties listed in each specific job announcement.
  4. Include skills you have that are listed in the qualifications section, using the same words the announcement uses. The government doesn’t give points for original writing—it scores resumes based on skills and experience that match the job requirements.
  5. Be clear, concise and organized.

For more information on federal resumes, visit the U.S. Forest Service or GoGovernment.

The Forest Service also hosts regular webinars on building a federal resume. Find and register for the next one here.

Federal pay scales

Jobs in the federal government are organized according to the General Schedule, which is unique to the federal government. Information about a job’s “GS” level is listed in job postings.

GS levels go from 1 to 15. GS-2 roles require a high school diploma; GS-5 roles require a bachelor’s degree; GS-9 roles require a master’s degree.

Each GS level has 10 steps, each representing a salary increase. Employees advance based on time on the job, their performance and other factors.

Federal salaries are based on GS level and location. Base pay is calculated using an area’s cost of living. Employees in some areas may receive additional pay, known as a locality adjustment. Here is a breakdown in pay for each region.

For more information on the General Schedule and pay, click here.

Student, internship and scholarship programs

In addition to the Forest Service positions you apply for directly through USAJOBS, there are internships that nonprofit organizations can help you secure. Students at specific colleges and universities have access to other scholarships.

The Partnership for Public Service’s Federal Internship Finder is the internet’s best source for federal government internships! To find opportunities at the Forest Service, select “Department of Agriculture (USDA)” in the agency filter. This will show you internships at all USDA agencies, including the Forest Service, so be sure to look for programs that say “U.S. Forest Service” specifically.

  • Click here to view USDA internships on the Federal Internship Finder
  • Click here to visit the Federal Internship Finder homepage – feel free to share with friends interested in interning at any federal agency!

Internships through nonprofit partners


More resources

  • For more tips and resources on applying for a Forest Service job, click here.
  • For more resources on applying for other federal job opportunities, visit GoGovernment.
    • TIP: On GoGovernment, click on the top left-hand menu and review the links in the Application Process dropdown. You’ll find useful information to help you with interviewing, negotiation and background checks if you advance beyond the application stage. And we know you will!
  • For information on the types of documentation the Forest Service may ask for in addition to your resume, click here.
  • To subscribe to the Forest Service’s Job Seeker Database, click here.