What do the job levels mean? (APS 1-6, EL 1-2, SES)

Jobs in the APS are graded into different classifications, or levels, and paid accordingly. Different classifications need different levels of experience and/or qualifications. You will improve your chances of winning the job if you apply for classifications that align with your existing level of experience and skills.

Most, but not all agencies use the same terminology to classify the level of complexity and responsibility of a position. The descriptions below are general indicators of the level of position to apply for.

The most common classifications used are as follows:

  • APS 1 and 2 - general administrative and service positions, cadetships and traineeships. Often a good place to start if you are a school leaver or have very limited experience.
  • APS 3 and 4 - general, administrative, technical, project and service positions, and graduate positions. Often a starting place for people with a university degree, and/or some experience in similar positions.
  • APS 5 and 6 - senior administrative, technical, project management and service positions, which may have supervisory roles. These are the best place to start if you have experience in similar positions.
  • Executive Level (EL) 1 and 2 - middle management positions responsible for managing day to day operations and influencing strategic direction. Positions at this level have extensive experience and/or technical expertise, with the skill to lead and develop others.  
  • Senior Executive Service (SES) Band 1, 2 and 3 - senior leadership and management positions that set the strategic direction and engage regularly with Ministers. Positions at this level will require significant experience, strong negotiation and problem solving skills, with the ability to drive cultural change.

Some agencies may use different classifications, job titles and terminology to describe their jobs. For example, many agencies will have a separate classification for legal officers. The general rule of thumb, though, is the higher the classification the more complex the role is. This also means that the higher the classification the more skills and experience you will need.

Sometimes it might not be clear which classification your skills align with. A good way to start is to compare the skills and experience you have to a range of positions. Every job advertised will have a range of information about the job whether it be in a recruitment pack or an agency website. It's also a good idea to call the Contact Officer who can provide further information on the job.

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