Frequently Asked Questions About CDC Jobs and Opportunities Around the World

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How are people hired for overseas assignments with CDC?

US citizens may apply through USA JOBSExternal for either temporary or permanent appointments. Temporary appointments do not provide Federal Civil Service career status but are generally more available. Permanent appointments give the employee Federal career status but are very limited and require that the employee sign a rotational agreement*.

Current CDC employees can apply either externally or internally for overseas positions. CDC employees who apply for an internal announcement at a higher grade than their current position will generally be given a temporary promotion for the term of the overseas assignment. Note that if a current Federal employee applies as an external candidate and accepts a temporary or term overseas position, the employee will not retain the Federal employee status at the end of the temporary overseas assignment and is subject to the terms of the temporary or term appointment. CDC is under no obligation to re-employ the employee at the end of the temporary or term appointment. The employee will be given priority consideration, however, for any vacant positions available at the end of the temporary or term appointment.

Rotational agreements require that you agree to work in an overseas location for a specific period of time and that the agency may require you to move to a different location or you may be terminated from CDC employment.

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What are the qualifications for employment at CDC?

Minimum qualifications vary according to the position and are specified in the vacancy announcement posted in USAJOBS. Each vacancy announcement summarizes the qualification requirements for the position announced.

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Are non-US citizens or US Permanent Residents eligible for Federal employment with CDC?

Non-US Citizens are eligible for employment through fellowship programs, as contract staff with companies with a viable contract with CDC, as individual contractors, and as Title 42 Senior and Associate Fellows. These appointments are generally made for 2 years, with the option to extend in 2-year increments not to exceed a maximum of 10 years.

In most cases, Non-US citizens are not hired as career Federal Civil Service employees. For more information about employment of non-citizens by the federal government, go to: New to the Federal Government – U.S. Citizens and Non-CitizensExternal.

CDC also uses the Senior Service Fellowship Program to hire qualified U.S. Citizens and non-U.S. Citizens for overseas positions. Applicants hired through this program are given a limited Excepted Service appointment*.

Excepted Service Agreement:
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) provides excepted service hiring authorities to fill special jobs or to fill any job in unusual or special circumstances under “Schedules A, B, and C.” These excepted service authorities enable agencies to hire when it is not feasible or not practical to use traditional competitive hiring procedures, and can streamline hiring.

For more information please visit: opm.govExternal

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Does CDC have employment opportunities overseas for students?

CDC does not send students on international assignments; however, CDC does have domestic opportunities. Students have the opportunity to gain valuable experience through summer jobs, internships, and work study programs. Some programs offer benefits for students’ academic career development. CDC student programs include Student Educational Employment programs, The Student Summer Employment Program, volunteer service, and a work/study program.

For more information visit:

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How long are CDC overseas assignments?

Overseas assignments are generally a minimum of 2 years and maximum of 8 years.

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What should I consider when selecting overseas locations on the USAJOBS application form?

To increase the chances of being selected, applicants are encouraged to select all locations where they are willing to accept a position. Applications will not be considered for locations left unchecked.

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Is housing covered during my overseas employment?

Generally, yes. U.S. Government employees are assigned embassy-approved housing or provided a living quarters allowance if no USG housing is available. Exceptions to this policy will be considered on a case-by-case base.

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Will my family be allowed to travel and live overseas with me?

Yes, families are allowed to accompany federal employees to their overseas assignments, except for a few countries where there are security concerns or lack of education or health facilities. Eligible family members must be medically cleared before they accompany a CDC employee on an overseas assignment. If a family member has a serious medical condition or chronic disease that requires special treatment or accommodations, overseas
assignments may not be appropriate.

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Are there overseas employment opportunities for spouses?

Yes. Employment opportunities for spouses or family members vary by country of assignment. The State Department’s Family Liaison Office maintains a list of job opportunities at most posts and may be contacted directly once an employee is selected for a post and all clearances are secured. Employment of the spouse or family member by CDC must be approved by COGH before deployment. Spouses or family members of CDC employees detailed to international organizations, such as WHO or UNICEF, may not be eligible for employment by the embassy.

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What is the GS series and what is the series and grade system?

GS stands for General Schedule. It is the pay system used by most Federal Agencies. Series and grade refer to the Federal government’s system for categorizing and defining jobs. For more information on job classifications and pay visit:

If you have never worked in the Federal government, you do not have to enter a series or grade for previous, non-government jobs. Upon application, however, you will be prompted to pick the highest grade you desire and are eligible for. For more information on the General Schedule (GS) positions visit:

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What are the requirements to qualify for GS jobs?

Each job announcement will include the required experience under Basic Qualifications or Substitution of Graduate Level Education requirements and may include General Experience and/or Specialized Experience*. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) publishes qualification standards for all General Schedule positions in the Qualification Standards Operating Manual. For more information visit:

General experience does not necessarily have to be directly related to the job to be filled; however, it must demonstrate that the employee has the ability to perform the work of the position. This is for a GS-5 and below.

Specialized experience must be closely related to the work to be performed in the job for which you are applying. At least one year of the specialized experience must have been comparable to work at the next lower grade in the Federal service.
If you have an advanced degree, you can qualify for GS-9 positions on the basis of a master’s degree, and for GS-11 on the basis of a doctorate. At these levels, however, the advanced degree must be directly related to the work of the job to be filled.

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What is the Commissioned Corps?

The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is an elite team of more than 6,000 well-trained, highly qualified public health professionals dedicated to delivering the Nation’s public health promotion and disease prevention programs and advancing public health science. Driven by a passion for public service, these men and women serve on the frontlines in the Nation’s fight against disease and poor health conditions. For more information visit:

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Must I have international experience to be considered for an Overseas Assignment?

Although not always required, international experience makes you more competitive.

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How do domestic Federal employees acquire international experience?

You may gain international experience through the International Experience and Technical Assistance Program (IETA)*.

IETA is a developmental training program for Federal public health employees which goal is to increase the number of CDC staff with international training and experience. For more information please visit:

The International Experience and Technical Assistance Program (IETA) is coordinated by the Coordinating Office for Global Health, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. IETA is a developmental training program for Federal public health employees. Established in 1997, the aim of the program is to increase the number of CDC staff with international training and experience. Thirty participants are recruited each year from CDC and other public health service agencies. Participants are sought from throughout the CDC and from Federal Public Health Service (PHS) agencies. IETA combines three classroom training sessions with a three month field assignment to enhance their skills in international public health settings.

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What are the benefits of the IETA program?

The IETA program will build a pool of CDC staff qualified for and interested in long-term assignments in our global programs. IETA provides its participants with a supervised international work experience in the global health sector.

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How can I join IETA?

The application cycle begins September 1st, with the deadline for application submission set during mid-October. To find out more about the program, view eligibility requirements, and access the program application, please visit our website at: 

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How can non-Federal Employees acquire international experience?

Through programs such as the Peace Corps or other international volunteer experiences. For more information visit:

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Do I need a graduate degree to work at CDC?

The educational requirements depend on the grade level and type of desired position where either qualifications or specialized experience will be required. Please read the job announcement requirements carefully to learn more about that specific position.

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What counts as work experience?

Any work experience (including volunteer, summer jobs, etc) counts if it is related to the position for which you are applying. Make sure
the experience is reflected in the submitted resume, as well as in your answers to the USAJOBS questions about the related experience.

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How can I obtain proof of prior Federal employment?

You can obtain proof of prior Federal employment by writing or calling the Federal Records Center, National Archives and Records Administration, 111 Winnebago Street, St. Louis, Missouri 63118, 314-538-5761. Inquiries should include your full name under which formerly employed, social security number, date of birth, and to the extent known, names and addresses of former Federal agencies, and dates of employment. For more information visit:

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What is reinstatement? Am I eligible?

Reinstatement allows you to reenter the Federal competitive service workforce without competing with the general public for civil service positions. You may apply for any open civil service position, but reinstatement eligibility also enables you to apply for Federal jobs open only to status candidates. You must have held a career appointment at the time of your separation or career-conditional appointment within the 3 years preceding your application for reinstatement. There are exceptions to the 3 year requirements. Contact your HR representative for more detailed information.

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What are Competitive Service jobs?

In the Competitive Service, jobs are subject to the civil service laws passed by Congress. These laws ensure that applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. They give selecting officials broad authority to review more than one applicant source before determining the best-qualified candidate based on job-related criteria. A basic principle of Federal employment is that all candidates must meet the qualification requirements for the position for which they receive an appointment.

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What is Veterans’ Preference?

Veterans’ preference recognizes the economic loss suffered by citizens who have served their country in uniform in times of strife, restores veterans to a favorable competitive position for Government employment, and acknowledges the larger obligation owed to disabled veterans. Historically, Congress has reserved preference for those who were either disabled, who served in combat areas or during certain periods of time. For more information visit:

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What are the benefits offered to CDC employees?

As a federal employee, you may be entitled to a range of employee benefits including, but not limited to health insurance, life insurance, long term care insurance, retirement, work-life programs (e.g., child care, elder care, etc.), flexible spending accounts, alternative work schedules, telework, competitive salaries, and a host of other entitlements to make your employment with the federal government rewarding.
For more information on benefits visit: USAJOBS: Pay and BenefitsExternal

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How do US citizens apply for a job with CDC?

Create and save your resume and responses to core questions and the self-assessment on-line at USAJOBSExternal.

Find the desired position and submit your resume by clicking on the apply option. Complete the required sections.

Submit your answers and check for the confirmation e-mail that your application has been completed.

Print your application confirmation and obtain the required documents and fax them to 866-539-4484.

For more information on how to apply visit these websites:

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How can I know the status of my application?

To check the status of your application log in to USAJOBS, select My USAJOBS tab, select the Applications link, you will see a list of all your applications and their status on the Application Status column. For more information visit:

Once your application is complete, you will receive an e-mail notifying the receipt of your application. Only applicants who are selected for future processing are contacted thereafter. For more information visit:

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How will I be evaluated during the selection process?

You will be evaluated on the quality and extent of your experience, education, and training relevant to the duties of this position. The evaluation will be based on information you provide in your on-line resume, your answers to the vacancy specific questions for the announcement, and a review of the documents that are requested as part of the application package. If you are among the best qualified candidates for the position your name will be referred to the selected officials.

The names and applications of the most qualified candidates are referred to the supervisor or selecting official. Selection procedures are subject to Federal Civil Service laws, which ensure that all applicants receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. For more information and tips on interviewing visit:

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If I am selected, will I have to undergo a background investigation?

Overseas employment in the federal government require at a secret or top secret security clearance. The clearance process considers such factors as registration for the Selective Service; failure to repay a U.S. government-guaranteed student loan; past problems with credit or bankruptcy; failure to meet tax obligations; unsatisfactory employment records; violations of the law, drug or alcohol abuse; as well as a less-than-honorable discharge from the armed forces. Investigations, which usually take two to four months, include current and previous neighbors, supervisors and coworkers. Depending on the nature of the job, you may begin work on a provisional basis, pending completion of the clearance process.

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If I am not selected, how can I find out why I was not eligible for the position I applied for?

You may ask the Human Resources number listed on the position announcement for your score and/or the reason you were not selected.

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Will I receive orientation and training?

CDC employees will receive two orientations designed specifically for their first assignment prior to deployment. The focus of orientation is to introduce new employees to the structure and function of the Agency and its role in the development and implementation of Global Health; to develop an understanding of the terms of employment; and to enhance core skills needed by all employees. Additionally, the program which will be sending you overseas will provide its own orientation program.

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What happens if I decline an offer of employment?

If a candidate declines an offer of employment, his/her name will remain on the register until the candidacy period runs out. Yes, if there is an open continuous announcement. If not, the candidate must re-apply for any other positions that interests him/her and must be ranked one of the most qualified candidates to be considered again.

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What is a Term Appointment?

Term Appointments can be identified by a statement in the job announcement such as: “This is a term appointment not to exceed X time”. Also the job announcement number will be identified by a “D”, for example: “HHS-CDC-D3-2008-0028”.

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I accepted a Term Appointment, what happens once the Term Assignment is over?

A Term Appointment will not provide Federal Employee status at the end of the term appointment. Once the Term Appointment is over CDC is under no obligation to provide employment after your overseas assignment; however, CDC will relocate you back to your home of record.

Previous Federal employees who have taken a temp or term appointment may be eligible for reinstatement for future vacancies for a period of time depending on their status when they accepted the temporary position. Priority consideration for reemployment will be given to employees with reinstatement eligibility.

If you are placed in a position upon your return to the U.S., your overseas pay will be used to determine the appropriate step of the grade to which you are appointed

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What is a Temporary Promotion?

A temporary promotion is a temporary assignment for a specified period of time to a position at a higher grade where the employee is paid at the higher grade. Merit promotion procedures must be followed if the temporary promotion is expected to exceed 120 calendar days. 

Upon returning to the U.S. you will be placed back to the lower grade from which you were temporarily promoted. You will be eligible for highest previous rate and your pay at the lower grade will be set at the step that equals or exceeds your temporary promotion salary. For more information on grade and pay retention visit:

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Will my salary be the same overseas as it would be in the U.S.?

No, while you are in the U.S., you receive locality pay based on your U.S. duty station. When you relocate to your overseas duty station, you will no longer receive the U.S. locality pay. However, depending upon your location, you may be eligible allowances authorized at your new duty station. The following link will provide assistance in understanding the allowances:

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Page last reviewed: January 5, 2015
Content source: Global Health