International Relations Specialist

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US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Position description

As an International Relations Specialist, you will perform the following duties:

  • Advise on, administer, and perform analysis in the planning, development, and implementation of foreign policy and international and bilateral programs undertaken by NOAA.
  • Coordinate within NOAA and other agencies on cooperative activities with foreign government partners or organizations and represent the agency as an active participant at national and international meetings and/or conferences.
  • Develop options and alternatives providing in-depth technical analyses and coordinate findings with other specialists and technical experts.
  • Prepare U.S. position papers, reports, correspondence, briefing materials on international programs/policy, including providing recommendations, guidance, and support to office Director and Deputy, agency policy makers and NOAA senior leadership.

Note: The duties are at the full ZA-4 performance level and the ZA-3 is the developmental grade level leading to such performance.


Conditions of Employment


This position will be filled under the DOC Alternative Personnel Systems (CAPS). This system replace the Federal GS pay plan and structure. Under CAPS, positions are classified by career, pay plan, and pay band.

The ZA-3 is equivalent to the GS-11/12.
The ZA-4 is equivalent to the GS-13/14.

* A one year probationary period may be required.
* Payment of relocation expenses is not authorized.
* This position requires a Secret Security Clearance.
This position is not in the bargaining unit.

Key Requirements:

  1. Must be a U.S. Citizen.
  2. More requirements are listed under Qualification and Other Information.
  3. Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • A background investigation will be required for this position. Continued employment will be subject to the applicant’s successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination.
  • Throughout the recruitment and hiring process we will be communicating with you via email; therefore, it is imperative that the email address you provide when applying for this vacancy remains active. Should your email address change, please notify the point of contact identified in the vacancy announcement as soon as possible so that we can update our system.



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 has a positive Education Requirement in addition to at least one year of Specialized Experience OR combination (if applicable) in order to be found minimally qualified. Transcripts must be submitted with your application package. You MUST meet the following requirements:

To qualify for the 0131 Series:
A. Degree: major or equivalent, or a combination of courses totaling at least 24 semester hours in international law and international relations, political science, economics, history, sociology, geography, social or cultural anthropology, law, statistics, or in the humanities; or 12 semester hours in one of the above disciplines and 12 semester hours in statistics/quantitative methods.


B. Combination of education and experience: courses equivalent to a major, or a combination of related courses totaling at least 24 semester hours, in one or more of the social sciences, or in the humanities, as shown in A above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.


C. Experience: four years of appropriate experience in one or more of the fields listed above in work associated with international organizations, problems, or other aspects of foreign affairs.

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: Applicants must possess one year of specialized experience equivalent in difficulty and responsibility to the next lower grade level in the Federal Service. Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position. This experience need not have been in the federal government.

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 ZA-3 (GS-11/12) grade level:
Specialized experience: Applicants must possess one full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZA-2 (GS-9) in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

  • Assisting in development and implementation of international partnerships, including supporting negotiations, and drafting reports;
  • Monitoring international policies;
  • Supporting planning for international meetings including foreign visits and travel; and
  • Assisting in the development of policy positions and briefing materials.


Substitution of education: 3 full years of progressively higher-level graduate education leading to a Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. equivalent doctoral degree


Combination of education and experience: A combination of education and experience as described above.

To qualify at the ZA-4 (GS-13/14) grade level:
Specialized experience: Applicants must possess one full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZA-3 (GS-12) in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following:

  • Implementing and maintaining international partnerships, including supporting negotiations, and drafting reports;
  • Monitoring international policies and tracking any changes to senior management;
  • Planning for international meetings including foreign visits and travel; and
  • Evaluating policy positions and briefing materials for improvements and recommendations.



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.

Special Instructions for Foreign Education: Education completed in foreign colleges or universities must be evaluated in terms of equivalency to that acquired in U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants educated in whole or in part in foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree. A listing of these accredited organizations can be found on the Department of Education’s website. You MUST provide a copy of the letter containing the results of the equivalency evaluation with a course by course listing along with your application. Failure to provide such documentation by the closing date of the announcement will result in lost consideration. For more information on how foreign education is evaluated visit: OPM Foreign Education Evaluation

Application instructions

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