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General Schedule (GS) Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale


The General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale refer to the structured pay systems used by the U.S. federal government for civilian employees. The General Schedule is applied to salaried employees in professional, technical, administrative, and clerical positions. Meanwhile, the Wage Grade applies to hourly workers in trade, craft, or manual labor positions.

Key Takeaways

  1. The General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) pay scales represent distinct federal pay systems that determine salaries for different categories of civilian government employees. GS applies to white-collar workers, while WG applies to blue-collar employees.
  2. GS pay scale has 15 grades and 10 steps within each grade. Salaries increase within a grade based on years of service and performance, while advancements to a higher grade generally require promotion or a change in job responsibilities. The WG pay scale has 5 levels with 5 steps within each level, taking into account job complexity, responsibilities, and geographic location.
  3. Both GS and WG pay scales are annually adjusted according to changes in living expenses, as determined by the President and Congress. This ensures that the federal government remains competitive in attracting and retaining competent employees, while maintaining fairness in its remuneration practices.


The VA benefits term General Schedule (GS) Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale is important because it directly impacts the compensation and benefits that Veterans Affairs (VA) employees receive.

This systematic classification reflects the roles, responsibilities, and skill levels of the workforce, ensuring equitable payment structures and career progression opportunities.

As a result, it helps in attracting and retaining qualified personnel, thereby sustaining a high-quality service delivery to the veterans and their families.

Furthermore, the GS/WG Pay Scale serves as a benchmark for comparing job positions and wages across various government agencies, promoting transparency and unity within the federal government workforce.


The General Schedule (GS) and Wage Grade (WG) pay scales serve as a crucial pillar in the framework of the VA benefits system, as they aim to provide a standardized and equitable compensation structure for federal employees. The primary purpose of these scales is to establish a consistent and well-regulated salary range for various job positions within the federal government, thereby ensuring that employees are fairly compensated based on their qualifications, skills, and experience.

By providing transparency and predictability in salary determination, the GS and WG pay scales foster a more competitive and merit-based work environment, ultimately attracting top talent to the federal workforce. In addition to fostering a fair and equitable work environment, the GS and WG pay scales are also essential in the overall management and organization of federal employment opportunities.

These pay scales take into account factors such as job responsibilities, education, experience, and competency levels, enabling hiring managers to determine the appropriate level of compensation for potential candidates and current employees. Furthermore, the GS and WG pay scales also contribute to the long-term career growth of federal employees by providing a clear-cut path for promotions and pay raises.

As employees acquire new skills and assume greater job responsibilities, they have the opportunity to advance through the pay scale levels, thereby translating their professional growth into tangible financial benefits.

Examples of General Schedule (GS) Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale

The term “General Schedule (GS) Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale” is used in the United States to determine the salary structure for federal government employees. The GS system classifies white-collar workers, while the WG system applies to blue-collar employees. Here are three real-world examples related to these pay scales:

Veterans Affairs Nurse Salary:A registered nurse working for the Department of Veterans Affairs may be placed under the GS pay scale. As a white-collar position, the nurse’s salary will depend on their GS level and step. For example, a nurse with experience might be classified as a GS-9 level employee, which in 2021 has a base salary range of $46,083 to $59,907 per year, depending on the employee’s step within that level.

Veterans Affairs Police Officer Salary:A police officer serving within the Veterans Affairs Police and Security Service could be classified under the GS pay scale, as it is considered a white-collar job. Their salary would be determined by their GS level and step. An experienced VA police officer may be a GS-6, which in 2021 has a base salary range of $34,956 to $45,444 per year, depending on the step.

Veterans Affairs Maintenance Worker Salary:A maintenance worker employed by the Veterans Affairs department might belong to the WG wage grade pay scale, as their job is typically blue-collar. The worker’s pay will depend on their WG level and step. An experienced maintenance worker may be placed in WG-9, with annual base salaries ranging from $27,397 to $40,538 in 2021, based on their step within that level.

FAQ Section: General Schedule (GS) Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale

What is the General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale?

The General Schedule (GS) Pay Scale is a system used by the federal government to determine the salaries of white-collar workers in the United States. It is comprised of 15 grades, each with 10 steps. Employees are assigned a grade based on the level of their job and advance through the steps according to their performance and years of service.

What is the Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale?

The Wage Grade (WG) Pay Scale is a classification system used by the federal government to determine salaries for blue-collar employees, such as trades and labor workers. The WG scale is divided into 5 levels, each with 5 steps. Employees are assigned a level based on their job duties and advance through the steps according to their performance and years of service.

How are GS and WG Pay Scales calculated?

GS and WG Pay Scales are calculated using a combination of factors, including the employee’s location, duty station, and the prevailing market rates for comparable positions. Each grade and level has a range of salaries, with steps indicating the pay increases an employee can receive as they gain experience and perform well in their position.

How can I determine my GS or WG Pay Scale?

To determine your GS or WG Pay Scale, first identify your grade or level based on your job duties. Then, consider your years of experience and the assigned step within that grade or level. Finally, consult the current GS or WG pay scale tables, which are updated annually, to find the corresponding salary range for your grade, level, and step.

When can employees expect a pay increase within the GS and WG Pay Scales?

Employees can expect a pay increase within the GS and WG Pay Scales based on a combination of factors such as time-in-service, promotions, step increases, and base annual pay adjustments. Generally, employees move up one step for every 1-3 years of service, depending on their current step and satisfactory performance. Base annual pay adjustments, which are determined by the government, are applied to both the GS and WG Pay Scales.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • General Schedule (GS) Base Pay
  • Locality Pay Adjustments
  • GS Pay Grade and Steps
  • WG Pay Scale for Blue-Collar Workers
  • FLSA Exempt and Non-Exempt Status

Sources for More Information