Accepting A Federal Job

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Hello, as the title states, I was selected to be a CNA for the Veterans Affairs. It's a federal job so the pay is probably the best there is for CNAs. I know many of you may not be familiar with the government pay scale, but they want to start me at gs5 step 1. Should I take the job? 


465 Posts

Has 20 years experience.

They always offer Step 1. If you have any experience you should negotiate for a higher step. 

Specializes in Acute care, Management, Director, Professor. Has 17 years experience.

Go for it!  Best decision I have ever made was starting at the VA as a nursing assistant.  Worked there as a NA, LPN, now a RN.  Inexperienced nursing assistants usually start at Grade 3, more experienced Grade 4, and the maximum is Grade 5 (they offered you Grade 5, Step 1).  Starting at Grade 5, Step 1, you will automatically go up an additional step/get a raise every two years.  The pay is different for every city, so can't tell you how much that would be in your city.  Benefits of working for the VA:

-You will get a pension when you retire.

-There are 11 federal holidays that you get paid double time.  Even if you don't work on the actual day, you will get paid double time on another day.  you can also ask for holiday excused, which gives you the day off with pay instead, if you don't want the double pay.  If it's in a Monday through Friday clinic and the clinic is not open holidays, you'll get the holiday excused (paid for the day off), even if the holiday falls on a weekend

-Shift differential is great.  Weekday nights is 10%, weekend day is 25%, and weekend night is 35%.  It carries over if you work from a Sunday night to a Monday morning.  For example, if you start a shift Sunday night, and end Monday morning, the entire shift is 35% extra pay - it doesn't end at midnight.  Also Friday nights, if you work into Saturday, is considered weekend night differential.

-You are covered by a Union, even if you don't pay dues.

-You get 13 sick days per year, separate from your annual leave/PTO.  You will also start earning 13 annual leave days per year to start.  You will get 4 hours of sick leave and 4 hours of annual leave every two weeks.  After 3 years working, you get 6 hours of annual leave every two weeks.  Once you hit the 15 year mark, you get 5 weeks vacation per year (8 hours every two weeks).  RNs get 5 weeks per year (8 hours every 2 weeks) day one.

-If you plan on going back to school, they offer scholarships to pay for school after you work there for 1 year.  One scholarship they offer for NA to RN: they will pay you your salary 100% as a NA while you are in school, and you DO NOT work while you are in school for RN (you only work during school breaks as a NA).  When you graduate, they give you a job as a RN.

Good luck!