Biological Science Laboratory Technician (Microbiology)
Department Of Agriculture - Ames, IA

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Relocation expenses will not be paid

This position is located in the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory (DVL), National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL). The incumbent is responsible for organizing and managing a wide variety of standard techniques in performing diagnostic tests, reagent production, developmental studies, and training assignments related to animal viruses.

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APHIS is an emergency response agency. This means that all Agency employees may be asked or assigned to participate in rotating temporary duty assignments to support emergency programs at some time during their careers with APHIS. For details click: APHIS Emergency Response


U.S. Citizenship

The duties described are for the full-performance level. At developmental grade levels, assignments will be of more limited scope, performed with less independence and limited complexity.

The duties may include, but are not limited to:
Receives diagnostic specimens for virologic or serologic examination, selects appropriate test or viral identification procedure.

Reports unusual findings or difficult situations to microbiologist or veterinarian in the Section for special instructions.

Performs tasks needed to prepare diagnostic reagents which include inoculation of cell cultures, animals, and embryonating chicken eggs; collection of animal tissues, cell culture fluid, and egg fluid.

Plans working details, makes measurements, and observes results of tests, such as complement fixation, immunodiffusion, enzyme immunoassay, immunofluorescence, etc.; maintains accurate records of tests and experimental results.

Prepares titrates and makes standard aliquots of antigens, viruses, antiserums, and conjugates; develops or adapts diagnostic test methods for use in NVSL; participates in diagnostic assay validation and application of assays to external research projects.

Takes references such as laboratory protocols, journal articles, or rough outlines from a professional and conducts virologic techniques making modifications to the procedure as required, documenting outcomes, and assessing procedure performance.

Recognizes problems in assignments and procedures, makes pertinent observations, draws conclusions, and makes suggestions for improvement of diagnostic and developmental procedures.

Prepares accurate written reports describing test procedures and results and summarizes findings.

Conducts bench training for technicians from DVL and other laboratories and assists in training courses with demonstrations and brief presentations.

To qualify, you MUST meet all qualification requirements by the closing date of the announcement.

Applicants can qualify by meeting the EDUCATION requirements specified below and/or the SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE requirements.


GS-5: Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study leading to a bachelor's degree with major study, or at least 24 semester hours, in any combination of scientific or technical courses such as biology, chemistry, statistics, entomology, animal husbandry, botany, physics, agriculture, or mathematics, with at least 6 semester hours in microbiology, biology or chemistry. OR The successful completion of a full course of study of at least 12 months in a school for clinical laboratory technicians may be substituted for the 1 year of specialized experience required.

GS-6: Successful completion of 9 semester hours of graduate level education in microbiology, biology, or chemistry.

GS-7: Successful completion of 18 semester hours of graduate level education in microbiology, biology, or chemistry.

TRANSCRIPTS are required if:
  • You are qualifying for the position based on education.
  • You are qualifying for this position based on a combination of experience and education.
This education must have been successfully completed and obtained from an accredited school, college, or university. For more information on submitting transcripts, click: Transcripts

SPECIALIZED EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-5/6/7 GRADE LEVELS: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience equivalent in level of difficulty and responsibility to the next lower level in the Federal Service. This experience may have been obtained in the private or public (local, county, state, Federal) sectors.

Examples of qualifying experience at the GS-5/6 levels include, but are not limited to:

Experience working in a Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and performing virological and serological procedures such as virus propagation, hemagglutionation and hemagglutination inhibition and animal inoculation.

Experience working in computerized systems for tracking and reporting test results.

Experience using laboratory equipment and laboratory procedures to prevent laboratory contamination and ensure sample integrity.

Examples of qualifying experience at the GS-7 level include, but are not limited to:

Experience in molecular techniques such as PCR and nucleic acid sequencing.

Experience working with viruses of Avian origin.

COMBINATION OF EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE AT THE GS-5/6/7 GRADE LEVELS: Applicants may have combinations of successfully completed education and specialized experience to meet total qualification requirements. The total percentages must equal at least 100 percent to qualify for that grade level.

To learn more about combining education and experience for this series, click the following: Combining Education and Experience for Technical and Medical Support Positions

Special Conditions:
Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered with the Selective Service.

DD214 (Member 4 copy) or other veterans' documents required to receive veterans' preference.

As a condition of employment, a background investigation may be required for this position.

Subject to satisfactory completion of one year probationary period.

We understand that accepting a position with Veterinary Services may require the need for spousal career placement assistance. To help you and your family make a successful career transition, Veterinary Services is dedicated to providing information on career placement assistance. Please visit the following web links for more information: .

This position is subject to unscheduled overnight details of undetermined lengths in the event of animal health emergencies or other conditions requiring immediate response, as required by the Agency. (Extensive periods of time may be designated for overnight details.).

When working with animals, physical exertion is required in restraint, administering inoculations, performing clinical tests, killing humanely, and collecting tissue samples.

The work requires good hand dexterity and eye-hand coordination.

There is some lifting up to 25 pounds.

Periodically, the diagnostic workload during a disease outbreak requires considerable overtime.

The work involves the risk of exposure to viruses and bacteria that are human pathogens; requires all clothing is changed and a complete shower is taken on leaving the area.

There is a high noise level due to the air exhaust system and laboratory equipment used almost continuously.

Protective devices such as face masks and latex or nitrile gloves are used.

Restrictions on contact with birds, sheep, goats, cattle, and swine outside of the laboratory.

Immunizations may be required.

Your application will be rated on the extent and quality of your experience, education and training relevant to the position. Your resume must support that you meet the specialized experience requirements described above and are proficient in the following skills or competencies below. Please note you are not required to provide specific narrative responses to the skills and competencies described in this section.

General administrative and technical skills

Communication skills - interpersonal, oral, written

Ability to prioritize work, meet deadlines, lead others, and supervise staff

Skill at performing laboratory diagnostics, biologics, and research testing

Knowledge of general laboratory functions, procedures, techniques, equipment, and professional practices

Category rating procedures will be used to rank and select eligible candidates. The following quality categories will be used: Best Qualified, Well Qualified, and Qualified. Within each quality category, veterans' preference eligibles will receive selection priority over non-veterans.

Your final category placement will be based on your responses to the assessment questionnaire. Please ensure your resume provides enough detail to support your responses.

If, after reviewing your resume and / or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, your score can / will be adjusted to more accurately reflect your abilities. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your rating. Deliberate attempts to falsify information may be grounds for not selecting you.

To preview questions please click here .

Eligibility for employee benefits depends on your type of appointment and your tour of duty (work schedule). Generally, you must be hired on a permanent basis and have a regular full or part-time work schedule. For more information on potential benefits, go to: Federal Employee Benefits

Range for GS-5: $31,315 to $40,706 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

Range for GS-6: $34,907 to $45,376 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

Range for GS-7: $38,790 to $50,431 (incl. 14.16% locality pay)

This salary range does not reflect the general pay increase scheduled for April 2013.

For information regarding CTAP eligibility for displaced Federal employees click: Career Transition Assistance Programs

More than one selection may be made if another vacancy occurs within 90 days of the issuance of the certification of eligibles.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact: USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

For information on filing a complaint of discrimination, click: Filing a Complaint

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