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hiring flier image which contains a graphic of data assimilation modeled and observed data uncertainty distributions as well as large text 'We are hiring' and additional details about the job openings, all of which are included in the text below. In brief, there are multiple positions for machine learning specialists, data scientists, and water information product managers. Email jread@usgs.gov with question and/or attend informational Session 1: March 12th at 1pm EST on MS Teams. Join at: http://bit.ly/3uWjqt9 or informational Session 2: March 15th at 1:30pm EST on MS Teams. Join at: http://bit.ly/3kLVsfz. Image credit E Bechtel

USGS Water Mission Area 2021 Cluster Hires (updated 3/15)

The U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area is hiring multiple Data Scientists, Machine Learning Specialists, and Water Information Product Managers. Apply online at USA Jobs, where the positions will open and applications will be accepted March 15-19th. For all positions, an unofficial transcript and detailed resume summarizing job qualifications and relevant skills is needed. We will continue to update this page with information, including direct links to the vacancies as soon as they are available.

For additional information, please follow the USGS Data Science Twitter feed or attend the following informational sessions:

** JOBS ARE NOW ACTIVE ** USAjobs Job links and announcement numbers:

Our Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Transparency

The federal hiring process is complex, but we don’t want that to be the reason you don’t apply. We are committed to inclusive hiring practices that build a healthy workplace where diversity is our strength and everyone has the support they need to succeed. That starts right now, with us lifting the veil on the confusing process of applying for federal jobs. We especially encourage you to apply if you are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, have a disability, or are of any marginalized identity. Please read below for details on how the application process works.

New hire positions

Data Scientist

We are seeking Data Scientist to help us build out new work on advanced modeling of water availability, water quality, and water hazards. Our new Integrated Water Prediction program involves a mix of process-based and data-driven modeling approaches and will rely on strong data infrastructure and workflows. Projects are designed to use a collaborative team of teams approach. Positions will be in the Analysis and Prediction Branch (hiring manager Julie Kiang; jkiang@usgs.gov) and the Data Science Branch (hiring manager Jordan Read; jread@usgs.gov). Specific duties will be related to projects in the following:

  • Data assimilation forecasting of water conditions
  • Observing system simulation experiments which will be used to inform future monitoring locations
  • Building publicly useable data releases for sharing model outputs, inputs, parameters, and derivative metrics
  • Building workflows for data access, analysis, visualization, and modeling

There will be two job announcements – one for Tuscaloosa, Alabama and one with the location negotiable. Both announcements will be for GS11 or GS12 Term positions, which are renewable annually for up to 4 years. These jobs will be advertised as Biologist, Physical Scientist, and Mathematical Statistician job series.

Machine Learning Specialist

We are seeking Machine Learning Specialists to help us build out new work on advanced modeling of water availability, water quality, and water hazards. Our new Integrated Water Prediction program involves a mix of process-based and data-driven modeling approaches to improve hydrologic understanding and provide information on current and historical conditions. Positions will be in the Analysis and Prediction Branch (hiring manager Julie Kiang; jkiang@usgs.gov) and the Data Science Branch (hiring manager Jordan Read; jread@usgs.gov). Projects are designed to use a collaborative team of teams approach. Specific tasks may include:

  • Integration of machine learning and deep learning approaches with existing process-based modeling
  • Use of machine learning methods to distill large model outputs into useful information
  • Using machine learning to create emulators (models that attempt to produce the same outputs when given the same inputs) of other models
  • Finding efficiencies in data processing workflows and feature extraction with machine learning

There will be two job announcements each with multiple openings – one announcement for Tuscaloosa, Alabama and one announcement with the location negotiable. Both announcements will be for GS11 or GS12 Term positions, which are renewable annually for up to 4 years. These jobs will be advertised as Biologist, Physical Scientist, and Mathematical Statistician job series.

Water Information Product Managers

Three GS 12 Term Product Managers positions are opening up in the USGS Water Web Communications Branch. These positions will work on a cross functional team that includes water scientists, software engineers, and design experts. The team makes high quality water information discoverable, accessible, and usable for everyone through web applications and APIs. Our team is committed to government tech innovation, working in the open, user-centered design, and agile methodology. The location of the duty station for the employees is negotiable upon selection of a candidate. Positions will be in the Web Communication Branch (hiring manager Emily Read; eread@usgs.gov). The Term positions are renewable annually for up to 4 years. These jobs will be advertised under the Physical Scientist job series.

Additional Information

Why Tuscaloosa?

USGS is building a new advanced hydrologic instrumentation facility and modeling center on the campus of the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, AL. This new building will open in 2023 and host dozens of USGS staff focused on innovating how we monitor and model water in the U.S. Until the doors open on this new USGS facility, staff will be stationed at the NOAA National Water Center (also located on campus in Tuscaloosa) and begin to forge cross-agency collaborations with NOAA on the mutual priority of advancing water prediction. Several of the positions closely tied to modeling will be advertised with Tuscaloosa duty stations in order to bring new modeling talent into this innovative work.

The Process

We’re here to answer any questions you have about what we do and how to navigate the application process. HR’s application window will be tight – only 5 days between March 15th and March 19th – which is why we’re letting you know now. Plus, we have some information that will hopefully help you navigate the process of applying to a federal job. It can get confusing, but you’re awesome and we want to get to know you!

Calculating the value of the job

General Schedule Grades – The pay and responsibilities of these Federal jobs are defined by general schedule (GS) Grades, which are roughly equivalent to the levels concept used elsewhere. These positions will be advertised at both GS 11 or 12 (for data scientists and machine learning specialists), or only at GS 12 (in the case of the product manager roles).

Pay – Salary bands are started at the Nation-wide GS Base Pay Scale and then adjusted for location. To find what salary band you’d be looking at, search “GS 2021 Salary Table + {{ Your location }}" and look at Grades 11 and 12. The “steps” in each grade are intermediate performance-based pay increases between grades.

Benefits – These positions include health and life insurance, 5% retirement match, 10 federal holidays, 13 sick days + 13 vacation days per year, paid parental leave, and accrual of federal service to count towards a pension (typically an additive 1% of the average of your highest 3 years of salary for each year of service). See USGS human resources pay and benefits page here for more details.

Intangibles - If the mission of public service towards advancing environmental science and data delivery resonates with you, there will be no shortage of energy and motivation available when working with great colleagues on these challenges. Likewise, a flexible schedule and emphasis on work life balance are important components to work at the USGS.

Applying for the job

Creating a USA Jobs account - All of these federal positions will be posted and filled using public vacancy announcements on usajobs.gov. If you are remotely interested in applying to any of the positions mentioned here or elsewhere, get ahead by creating an account as soon as you can. Having an active account will allow you to set up job filters and get a jump start on getting your application materials together.

Qualifying for GS 11 or 12 - These grades are a high bar, requiring a PhD or three or more years of graduate coursework or a masters degree and work experience or multiple years of experience with a Bachelor’s degree. We recognize that people with lots of different experiences will be able to excel at these jobs. That said, federal pay grades have requirements that applicants must meet for the system to pass you on to the pool that we can then review. We CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH: see USGS tips for combining graduate education and experience and spell out how you meet the grade and job series qualifications. I’ve seen people attach an additional document to the hiring package that makes this math clear to HR. We will be advertising a combination of Biologist, Physical Scientist, and Mathematical Statistician job series.

Specialized experience - We’re using USGS’s direct hire authory (DHA) to post public positions and see a wide candidate pool. We expect a lot of applications and are planning on interviewing lots of people. By using DHA we will be able to consider any candidate who meets the minimum educational and work experience for the job series (see above) and the Specialized Experience that we’ve defined for the role. Specialized Experience includes the demonstration of specific skills for a minimum of one year, so make sure to be explicit about how you’ve met these requirements on your resume.

  • Required specialized experience for GS-11 Data Scientist: Performs data processing workflows that use data analysis and reproducibility techniques to analyze model results or create model-ready scientific datasets. Experience will include the use of formal version control for code (e.g., git or similar), proficiency accessing and analyzing large or diverse environmental datasets, and intermediate skills with one or more data science programming languages (e.g., python and R).
  • Required specialized experience for GS-12 Data Scientist: Plans, designs and conducts data science projects to analyze, model, or curate large scientific data sets. Experience will include advanced skills with one or more data science programming languages (e.g., python and R), experience capturing the access, manipulation, and analysis of large or diverse environmental datasets in reproducible/repeatable scripts or workflows.
  • Required specialized experience for GS-11 Machine Learning Specialist: Experience designing testing and training datasets for machine learning model building, using formal version control for code (e.g., git or similar), applying intermediate skills in various machine learning libraries or algorithms (e.g., TensorFlow, pyTorch, Keras, scikitlearn) to make predictions, and conducting analysis on modeled results
  • Required specialized experience for GS-12 Machine Learning Specialist: Experience selecting appropriate approaches from various machine learning methods (e.g., artificial neural networks, clustering tools, tree-based methods, regression methods), advanced skills in applying machine learning libraries to build predictive models, and experience interpreting modeled results.
  • Required specialized experience for GS-12 Product Manager: Experience planning and executing complex projects involving physical science, water or biological data and/or information delivery, which usually involved intensive investigations into data collection methods, data/information delivery pipelines, and/or data users’ workflows.

Materials – You’ll need a resume and educational transcripts (unofficial are OK). Again, to make sure HR can see that you’re qualified, make sure your resume explicitly ties your experience to each of the qualifications listed for the grades you are applying for and also the Specialized Experience section.

Application Window – The application window will be open on USA Jobs for ONLY 5 DAYS, from Monday March 15th at 12:00am ET to Friday March 19th at 11:59pm ET. That window is really, really short. It’s unfortunately out of our control. We’re telling you this now so you can ask questions and prepare your materials in time so that you can apply while the window is open.

Timeline – After the application window closes, HR combs through applications and filters for candidates who meet the GS Grade qualifications and specialized experience. Then they’ll pass on that entire list to the hiring managers – in this case, Jordan Read, Emily Read, and Julie Kiang. The hiring managers will contact all the qualified candidates for additional information and will set up interviews, visits, or writing/code requests. From there, they will refer a selected candidate to HR, and HR will extend an offer. After HR makes an offer, that is your chance to negotiate the offer and ultimately accept or reject it. Once negotiations are done and you accept the offer, HR will perform a background check. Then you agree to a start date and at that time your employment at the USGS begins!