Technical Career Field Program

General Program Information

The Technical Career Field (TCF) program offers two years of training in critically identified positions within specific career fields in accordance with VHA’s Succession Workforce Plan. Program participants receive paid salary/benefits, training/travel stipend, access to a preceptor/mentor and hands-on training.

The core curriculum is a career specific training plan developed by subject matter experts and used as the foundation for every trainee's technical program learning requirements. Specific developmental needs are assessed and added to the plan to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP is the trainee's two-year roadmap to successful completion of the program. Trainees are coached, mentored and most times supervised by a local preceptor. Preceptors are selected through a rigorous application process, and are subject matter experts, currently employed within the specific VHA career field.

There are several career fields to choose from. Qualifications for the individual positions are listed on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website or the Job Opportunity Announcements (JOA) for each location. Depending on the hiring authority used to announce TCF positions, Pathways Recent Graduate educational requirements may apply to these positions, including recent qualifying education within the past two years/six years for Veterans with intervening military service. Any moving expenses associated with the initial acceptance of a TCF position are the responsibility of the individual applicant.

How to Find Job Announcements and Apply

Career fields began trainee recruitment as early as March. Individuals selected for positions may start working as early as the last pay period in May, and no later than the last pay period in September. Training site locations are reflected on JOA that are posted on annually, as early as mid-February. Open positions change each year and may not be offered at the VA facility of your choice, therefore, look for job postings listed on USA Jobs using the VA Careers link below. Every JOA listed on the VA Careers website is advertised nationally by the career field for all locations or by the local facility. Therefore, there is not one application process for all locations; announcements vary by location and are posted as VA internal opportunities, VA external opportunities or both. After determining the job(s) and location(s) you are interested in, you will need to apply to each advertised position separately.

VHA offers a designated number of TCF Program positions every year. Job opportunities are posted at various times for various locations from March-August. There is not one set date for job announcements at all locations. Review the VA Careers website for specific job postings and instructions on how to apply online for individual positions, and search by the following keywords (i.e., TCF, Pathways Recent Graduate), occupation or location.

Selection of trainees follows the federal government’s OPM hiring standards. Applicants can be hired at the 5 or 7 level (GS-9/11 only for the leadership level trainees); salary tables are available on the OPM website. Beginning grades vary across the country and are typically dependent on education level and experience within the field of interest. Each TCF position requires employment for one year at the hiring grade level before being promoted, even if the individual meets qualifications/Time in Grade (TIG) requirements for a higher grade prior to reaching one year.

All selected trainees are required to sign a training agreement and continued service agreement. Once the two-year training program is complete, trainees are expected to be placed at their training site. In accordance with the Continued Service Agreement (CSA), after completion of the two-year training program, the trainee has an obligation of working three additional years for the VA. If not, the hosting site will initiate a bill of collection for the training/travel funds expended during the two-year training program.

Trainees may be placed non-competitively up to the appropriate target level position once the training is successfully completed, and job qualifications at the higher-grade level are fully achieved. Promotions and permanent placement are not entitlements and are dependent on trainee conduct and performance. A final placement grade depends on the hiring grade, TIG restrictions, and trainee performance.

For more information about TCF contact

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