How To: Obtain a Contracting Job in the Federal Government (GS-1102 series)

Times have never been worse, yet never better for obtaining a position in the Federal Government as a “contract specialist” commonly referred to as a GS-1102.

My name is Robert Knauer. I am a certified professional contracts manager, certified professional purchasing official, and federally certified at the highest level (Level III) in contracts. I retired after 32 years with the FEDS at the rip old age of 54, and have been working ever since I left the Federal Government teaching young and old alike acquisition courses, and how to get a job in the government as a contracting specialist (or contracting officer). As lucky as I was after leaving the U.S. Navy, and joing civil service, I worked all over the United States, did all kinds of government contracting, and even taught for the Defense Acquisition University, and many other organizations. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities given me working for our great government.

People down-talk beinig a CO, and say all kinds of disparaging things about being a contracting officer for the FEDS, but the one thing I can tell anyone that asks is “Working for the FEDS is a great profession. It’s challenging, requires lots of education and OJT, and places great demands on your ability for proper time management. Granted all of that–the pay and benefits are very good. You make the job you have as good as you want to…and there is always ample opportunity in other agencies–especially today with the retirements and brain drain ongoing.”

So, you are unemployed and say you need a job, right? It is very easy if you are willing to follow the simple steps required. First, make up a good resume, broken out into the tasks of each job that you have held. Break it down by the timeframe you held a job. Do this in a MS Word document that you save somewhere. You’ll need it later to post and repost as needed to different government job websites.

The most basic government website for all Federal Jobs is USAJobs.com or USAJobs.gov at www.USAJobs.gov (they are both the same). There, you will need to register, obtain a basic ID and Password that you will use time and again to enter the site, post your job resume to (you may do so from scratch or upload one you already have read), fill out all the required information, and then you are ready to start job hunting.

Once you have your ID and PW uploaded your resume. It most cases government managers and personnel will NOT contact you. You have to be smart and contact them. Since my focus is ONLY for acquisition professionals this Blog is not geared for HR, Engineers, etc….just contracting people (called contract specialists or 1102s). An 1102 means you are in the contracting field or WANT to be in the contracting field. Each time you search for a contracting job, be it an Intern position (for young college grads), or a more senior position, for unemployed professionals, you will want to emphasize your knowledge, skills, abilities in that field. Take the time to do this RIGHT. Too short a synopsis…not a good thing. Too long–nobody will read it.

If you are a Veteran, just back from the War, you get points for that (and preference) in hiring over others that are not veterans. Same is true if your husband or wife was killed in the war, or received a superior medal. But if your only a college grade (must have at least 24 semester hours in business core), you CAN get a position starting out as a GS-7 or GS-9. That’s nothing to sneeze at. A GS-7 makes upwards of $45K, while a GS-9 makes upwards of $60K. If you have the guts and ability to move yourself to Washington, DC like many smart people do, you can go from a GS-9 to GS-14 in as little as 5 years! A GS-14 (GS-1102-14) makes about $120,000 with cola and pay hikes.

Now that you are job hunting on USA JOB’s site…do a search for all GS-11, or GS-12 jobs in the 1102 series and see how many jobs pop up. You will be astounded!! THE GOVERNMENT IS HIRING

If you have considered the federal government for a career in contracting–Do so today.

If you need help, send me an email to [email protected] with where you live, your background and what you want to do in contracting. Maybe I can help you.

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The Acquisition Institute Inc.

Recently I received a few emails and calls for help to which I responded, but I forgot to add that even though NCMA and NIGP exist as professional organizations, they don’t help you get a job. That’s something you must do yourself which is why I offered my assistance to those that may want to become a GS-1102 contract specialist. It’s nice I think when someone with experience will take the time to help a novice or new person try to “learn the system.” The system of getting a job is difficult. Some 12 plus years ago, Constance Horner, a Bush appointee to OPM said that she would by the time she left office as head of OPM ensure that it took no longer than 30 days to get anyone hired into the federal government. What I say to that some 13 years later is HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA….and the laughing continues. If there EVER was an organization that deserved to be gotten rid of by the taxpayers, our President and Congress it is OPM! Yes, they do, do some things well, but when it comes to driving the hiring process they have always fallen flat on their face, and are deserving of ridicule. At least by me. God help the poor man or woman trying to use USAJobs and all the many portals they must go through to upload their resumes, and just try to get it into the hands of a selecting official. The system is not working, regardless what some bureaucratic OPM old timers think. Yes, bureaucrats like to pat themselves on their back for doing their work, but for God sake new OPM director, get the system working for the people that need a job and want to go to work for government–that is YOUR job.


I am interested in a Contract Specialist position. I have applied for several positions on USA jobs over the past few years but my attempts have been unsuccessful. I figured it has something to do with my resume format or the fact that I have not properly correlated my work experience to the qualifications required for the position. I have a B.S. in Business Administration and an MBA with a concentration in Project Management. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Hello, on usajobs.gov there were many vacancies for GSA Contract Spec and the salary ranges from 50,000.00 – 150,000.00
I do not meet the quatlification, but I do want to take courses so that I can meet the qualifications and then apply. In the job posting it mention the FAI where courses can be taken, however, it is not a regular school where someone like me can attend. Any sugestions?


greetings! I am currently in school for contract management in Alabama area. I have applied yo several job postings attempting to get my foot in the door, I would love some guidance.

Aurelio Garcia

Great, but how do I obtain a contractors licence or credentials. I used to be my units CO but was never trained. Marine Officer

Johnathan Patrick

I recently ran across you article concerning the entry level contracting specialist position with the Federal Government. I’ve been interested in this particular position for a while but so far haven’t been able to move forward in the process. I welcome any assistance you could provide.

Best Regards,

Johnathan Patrick

Bill McFadden

The 1102 (Contracting) job series isn’t for everybody, although one could say that about nearly all jobs and careers. That being said it is a good series to be in for the reason being that there are a number of things one can do in the series. There are opportunities both on the operations side and the policy side. There are advancement opportunities on both sides to higher graded jobs with greater responsibilities. Contracting has become more complex in recent years with more and more contracts being awarded for services at higher dollar values. If one has a business or legal background there will be opportunities in the coming years as the older members of the workforce retire leading to job openings from the entry level up to the senior level.

James Watson

My name is James Watson, I have a Class A contractors license with 5 certifications…including Comercial Build, Residential Build, Roofing,Painting, and Residential Improvements. I looking to find government contract work.. Can you help me find the way? I currently have a company tailored to meet the care needs of the aging in place and physically challenged.


Hi I would like to know that what all courses i can do before applying for contract specialist job as i have been working as project manager and now want to look for this Contract specialist role

Christian J Chartier

Please contact me via PM. I’m interested in selling to the gov, and you may be who I need. Combat veteran looking to crack open federal contracting

Debra. Kannn

Yes would love to work in this field with the federal government Is there a fund or just fill outs documents and wait to be contacted is there training need more info.