How to get a job at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta

The CDC is the first line of defense for potential public health emergencies

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The CDC is the first line of defense for potential public health emergencies

Credit: Unsplash

Credit: Unsplash

With the popularity of AMC's television show "The Walking Dead," it's really no big surprise that interest has grown in working for the Centers for Disease Control. While you may not find yourself combating a zombie virus, if you're looking for a job that provides an opportunity to do something meaningful, working for the agency could provide you with a perfect fit.

Headquartered in Atlanta, the CDC employs more than 14,000 employees in 170 different occupations and has workers in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Among its many priorities, the CDC works to stop the spread of infectious diseases, such as Ebola and the Zika virus, yet also has the task of keeping the nation prepared for bioterrorism and other types of potential public health emergencies.

While most of the CDC's job opportunities are for those with a medical or scientific background, they do also employ other types of workers, such as accountants, finance/budget administrators and even secretaries in other types of mission support positions. If you are thinking of applying with the CDC, here's some information you should know.

Salary and Benefits

Although the CDC is part of the United States Health and Human Services, most of its employees are considered civil servants. Salaries vary depending on the job you are hired for and the rating the job is given on the government's General Schedule pay scale. As an example, if you were hired for a position that is rated GS-12, you could expect to earn a salary of approximately $62,101 to $80,731 as of January 2016. While employees at the CDC may not make as much as they could if working in the private sector, they do receive federal benefits and tend to have better job security.

Getting a leg up

There are many different ways that employees come to work for the CDC. If you are currently a high school or college student, you might be able to get a jump on the competition by working as an intern through the CDC's Pathways Program. In addition, if you are a recent college graduate, the Pathways Program could offer you a chance to gain work experience in the public health field or other related support occupation. Students in the program do receive a salary, but are not entitled to federal benefits.

The application process

If you do not qualify for the Pathways Program, there are two ways to seek employment by accessing the current job openings for the CDC. The first is by going to the Employment Home page on the agency's website and clicking on the appropriate link that best describes your situation (i.e. General Public, Current or Former Federal Employees, etc.). The second way is to bypass the CDC page and go directly to where the links on that page will carry you anyway, which is to the government website USA Jobs. Either way, once you are there, you will fill in CDC for the keyword and Atlanta for the location that you are interested in.

Before you apply for a job, however, it is important to note that some positions are initially offered first to current CDC employees or to those who have previously or are currently working as a federal employee. You can determine whether you are eligible for the position by looking at the field "Who May Apply" on each job position. Once you have determined you are eligible, click on the job title and you'll be routed to an online application.

The interview process

The interview process for CDC job candidates varies depending on the position that is applied for and the department it is in. Some interviews are initially conducted by telephone, and candidates who successfully pass the initial phone interview are then invited for either a one-on-one interview with a selecting official or by a group panel of three to five individuals who are knowledgeable about the job.

You're Hired!

Job candidates who have successfully navigated through the interview process can expect to receive a "tentative" offer of employment. This offer is then followed by a formal letter that provides the terms and conditions of employment. New hires typically can expect to start their position in two to four weeks.


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