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The Average Salary of GS 13

Employees who work for the federal government are paid according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management salary scales, and most of the nearly 2 million federal workers are considered General Schedule, or GS, employees. GS grades range from GS-1 to GS-15. Based on the 2018 U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) government pay scale tables, the annual base earnings of employees at the GS-13 federal pay scale range from $75,628 to $98,317. Depending on the region where a federal employee works, locality pay may increase the base earnings.


Federal pay scale GS-13 ranges from $75,628 to $98,317 annually in 2018.

What is a GS-13 Employee?

Pay grade 13 is called a GS-13 ranking on the federal government pay scale and is the first grade at which supervisory responsibilities typically begin. GS-13 employees may supervise employees who are at the GS-1 through the GS-12 level; the GS-13 grade would likely be the equivalent of a supervisor or front-line manager in the private sector. That said, all GS-13’s are not supervisors – some may be high-level technical specialists or professionals with advanced degrees, such as lawyers or public health specials with Ph.D.’s or professionals with credentials that qualify them for the higher grade. GS-13’s usually report to a GS-14 and above, which means there could be two management levels above their grade, GS-14 through the Senior Executive Service (SES) level.

GS Step Increases for GS-13 Pay Grade

Like all positions on the General Schedule, there are 10 steps within each grade. Those 10 steps account for the $22,689 range in the GS-13 federal pay scale for base earnings. Newly hired federal government employees typically start at Step 1 in their grade and advance one step each year, based on satisfactory performance for each within-grade step. For example, an employee at the GS-13 grade Step 1 can expect a promotion to GS-13 Step 2 after completing one year as a GS-13 Step 1.

Within-grade step increases, as they are referred to by OPM, can occur annually for Step 1 through Step 4. For Step 4 through Step 7, the employee must have performed his job duties satisfactorily for two years before receiving another within-grade step increase. Once the employee reaches Step 7, each increase up until Step 10 requires satisfactory performance for three consecutive years. Federal employees who perform at the “Outstanding” level on their performance appraisals – often referred to as the Performance Management Appraisal Program, or PMAP – may receive quality step increases, but these types of increases are limited to one within-grade step increase per year.

Locality Pay

The GS pay scale also varies according to location, which is called federal locality pay. According to an employee’s location, she might be paid more than counterparts in other localities. For example, a GS-13 employee who works in the Harrisburg-Lebanon, PA area may earn from $87,842 at Step 1 to $114,195 at Step 10, while a GS-13 employee in the New York, NY locality may earn from $99,927 at Step 1 to $129,906 at Step 10. The locality pay differences reflect that area’s cost of living basis.

GS Federal Pay Scale Classification and Basis

The federal government has one of the most structured pay systems, and approximately 1.5 million of the nearly 2 million employees are covered under the GS classification system. Practically all white-collar employees are classified and paid under the GS federal pay scale and classification system. This includes a broad range of positions including technical, professional, clerical or administrative jobs. For the GS-13 classification, incumbents typically must have an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, law degree or MBA.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she earned both the SHRM-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), through the Society for Human Resource Management, and certification as a Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ruth also is certified as a facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.