Become part of Hawaii’s conservation story


This position is located in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC), Honolulu, Hawaii.

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

The full performance level of this posItion is ZP-04. 

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of 11.32% is paid for locations in Hawaii. COLA is exempt from Federal income taxes.The COLA is not reflected in the locality salary shown in this vacancy announcement.

This position is also announced under vacancy number NMFS-PIC-2017-0009, which is open to all US Citizens or Nationals. You must apply to both announcements if you want to be considered for both.

* A three year probationary/trial period may be required.
* Payment of relocation expenses is not authorized.
* This position is not in the bargaining unit


This vacancy may be used to fill other Research Ecologist, ZP-408-03, positions throughout NOAA. The position must be alike (e.g.: within the same geographic locations, same grade/band requires the same qualifications as indicated in this vacancy announcement)

Conditions of Employment:

  • Possess a valid driver’s license to use a federal vehicle to travel to research sites.
  • Ability to lift up to 50 pounds.
  • Ability to perform work on a sea-going vessel for up to 60 days per year.
  • Ability to work on small boats daily.
  • Must be able to conduct work on uneven surfaces, ascend and descend on ladders.
  • Incumbent is required to work outdoors, in potential harsh and/or hazardous weather conditions.
  • Diver’s certification is required. Must be able to become a NOAA-certified diver.


The individual selected for this position will:

  • Coordinate efforts to monitor the biodiversity, abundance, distribution, size/age frequency, condition/health, and other demographic characteristics of coral reefs of the U.S. Pacific Islands.
  • Conduct advanced quantitative and statistical techniques/approaches to conduct spatial and time series multivariate analyses to robustly detect temporal changes in benthic community structure and population dynamics.
  • Participate and serve as Chief Scientist on ship and shore-based research cruises to examine benthic community structure and ecological relationships with environmental and human drivers.
  • Prepare research proposals to fund and support research of the Ecosystems Sciences Division.
  • Draft manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications and reports of research findings for scientific or management needs.

Travel Required

  • Occasional Travel
  • Estimated 10% travel domestic and foreign

Relocation Authorized

  • No

Who May Apply

This job is open to…

* Current Federal employees serving under a career or career-conditional appointment in the competitive service;
* Former Federal employees with reinstatement eligibility;
* CTAP/ICTAP eligibles;
* Applicants eligible under special hiring authorities; and
* Veterans who are preference eligible, or separated from the U.S. Armed Forces under honorable conditions after 3 years or more of continuous active service, may apply under the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA).

Questions? This job is open to 3 groups.

Job Requirements

Job Requirements

Key Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or National to apply.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be suitable for Federal employment.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • Time-in-grade/band must be met by closing date of announcement.


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 substitution of education for 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:


Degree: biology, or a related field of science underlying ecological research that included at least 30 semester hours in basic and applied biological sciences. These hours must have included at least 9 semester hours in ecology, and 12 semester hours in physical and mathematical sciences.



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 ZP-03:

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE: One full year (52 weeks) of specialized experience equivalent to the ZP-2 or GS-09 in the Federal service. Specialized experience MUST include all of the following: 

  • Conducting benthic surveys of coral reef communities using SCUBA.
  • Conducting extended field-based ecological research at sea from research vessels and small boats for extended periods greater than 3 weeks.
  • Conducting multivariate statistical analyses of interdisciplinary ecological data of marine ecosystems.
  • Developing and presenting research information at scientific conferences.
  • Publishing ecological research findings in peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Substitution of Education: Master's or equivalent graduate degree OR a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in biology, or a related field of science underlying ecological research.


Combination of education and experience: Combinations of successfully completed graduate level education and specialized experience may be used to meet total experience requirements. Only graduate level education in excess of the amount required for the next lower grade level may be combined with experience.

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.


For more information about Conservation Connections Job Manager and this opportunity please visit our website at, contact us at (571) 414-3492 or via email at

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