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Career Structure

Victorian Public Service career structure

In 2004 a new career structure set the work value of many of the jobs within the Victorian Public Service (VPS). Salaries are aligned to the work value of jobs.

The VPS career structure provides for six graded levels and a senior technical specialist level. The classification of each grade is based on the level of the work undertaken, and encompasses the elements of decision-making, communication, knowledge and proficiency.

The grade and value range descriptors group generic functions under the categories of: policy and projects, administrative and corporate support, operational service delivery and technical/specialist roles.

The value range descriptors then provide further detail on the value within each grade. In assessing the grade or value range for a job, a whole-of-job assessment is required. Not all elements of each value range are required, but they should be considered on the basis of best-fit to describe the work. In grades with a number of value ranges, the first provides the base, and the relevant elements from the second value range must be added for the purposes of advancement to this next level.

The following grade level descriptors give an indicative summary of the entry point for each grade. They provide a quick guide to the key work elements, and will help you understand how the VPS career structure works.

Scroll down to Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or senior technical specialist to learn more

Grade 1

Work environment:

  • undertake specific and defined tasks within established rules under close supervision
  • communication is mainly focused on routine issues that may require an understanding of the operational context
  • focus is on learning, developing and refining work skills at career structure entry level.

Typical functions:

  • perform routine administrative tasks
  • provide routine information, such as standard information and explanations, to clients and members of the public
  • perform routine service delivery functions
  • operate and maintain tools and equipment, appropriate to the function and level of qualification
  • assist technicians, scientists and specialists in straightforward tasks.

Grade 2

Work environment:

  • applies rules, processes and standards under general supervision
  • judgement is required to solve problems arising in own work program
  • explains rules, procedures and operational policies, to individual clients or colleagues
  • understands and applies theoretical principles, under supervision, to achieve defined outcomes.

Typical functions:

  • collect data, undertake basic analysis and prepare simple reports
  • provide office support through activities such as using and maintaining standard office equipment and software
  • provide standard services, under general supervision, and within a defined service delivery framework appropriate to the career structure
  • conduct routine scientific, technical or specialist procedures, and data collection, collation and analysis
  • deliver information services to the general public or clients, including initial advice and referral
  • draft routine internal reports and correspondence.

Grade 3

Work environment:

  • exercise professional judgement about the application of rules, or the selection of choices within guidelines
  • initiate improvements to procedures within the work area
  • contribute analysis and advice for decision making by others
  • explain concepts and policies to clients, stakeholders and staff
  • use persuasion, advocacy, negotiation and motivation skills with clients, providers, staff, peers and managers
  • use theoretical knowledge to achieve agreed outcomes in moderately complex work situations.

Typical functions:

  • conduct projects of defined scope, under direction
  • lead a team appropriate to the role and career structure
  • maintain corporate databases and complete analysis
  • investigate and assess actions by individuals or organisations, against legislation, rules, regulations and service agreements
  • assess client needs and deliver a range of services in complex situations
  • conduct small-to-medium sized scientific, technical or specialist projects defined by others
  • prepare briefs on sensitive issues for consideration by others.

Grade 4

Work environment:

  • think innovatively
  • apply negotiation, persuasion and motivation skills to manage staff and stakeholders
  • apply sound theoretical and practical expertise in the development of policy options
  • interpret and apply business plans and policies to own area of responsibility
  • resolve operational service delivery problems, consistent with program objectives.

Typical functions:

  • research and develop recommendations in a specific field of expertise
  • contribute to strategic policy development within a specific field of expertise
  • manage multi-disciplinary project teams
  • lead a larger or complex, corporate support work unit
  • provide specialist administrative and corporate support expertise
  • determine operational service delivery plans based on accepted standards
  • undertake complex or technical investigations and make recommendations for action
  • manage a scientific, technical or specialist team and/or projects
  • prepare reports, briefs and correspondence on complex issues that impact at a program or organisational level.

Grade 5

Work environment:

  • make decisions that often impact upon staff, peers and clients outside the immediate work area
  • provide advice and analysis that influences policy development
  • accountable for work organisation including the allocation of resources within, and the outputs required of, the work area
  • innovative thinking and analysis influences developments within their area of responsibility
  • specialises in an area of their profession, and at career structure level where they are relied on for advice in this field.

Typical functions:

  • formulate policy options and advice
  • manage and lead projects
  • provide high level expertise for more complex issues in a specialised corporate support function
  • manage cross-functional delivery within a defined service
  • provide specialist professional services or advice
  • initiate research and analysis, within an area of expertise, consistent with organisational objectives
  • negotiate with stakeholders and peers.

Grade 6

Work environment:

  • has knowledge of structures, processes and culture of government, the sector and the department, to help develop policies and new programs or project initiatives
  • high level expertise in the field or discipline
  • able to identify and respond to new and emerging strategic issues that impact on the operating environment
  • a subject matter expert who conceptualises, initiates, implements, promotes and evaluates complex and innovative technical programs
  • participates in strategic planning and contributes to strategic decision making processes.

Typical functions:

  • responsible for operational policy or service development that impact on a major functional area
  • routinely advise senior stakeholders on policy issues and solutions within a functional area
  • manage an area with significant budget, staff responsibilities or strategic importance, as appropriate to this peak career structure level
  • manage a large scale organisational service or regional delivery function
  • develop briefs on highly complex issues that provide options for decision at the highest level within an organisation
  • initiate and manage negotiations with peers (internal and external to the work unit), to gain commitment to projects and delivery of activities to meet timelines.

Senior technical specialist

Work environment:

The senior technical specialist (STS) category covers only those jobs that require the highest level of specialist professional expertise within the VPS career structure. Senior technical specialists can be distinguished from other classifications or categories as follows:

Executive officers

In contrast to executive officers, senior technical specialists are not expected to take a broad, ongoing leadership role in the agency; they work within a particular field of expertise. Senior technical specialists achieve their goals by using their specific academic knowledge, as well as extensive industry and subject matter expertise. They inspire and stimulate others through exercising these professional skills.

While many executive roles require qualifications and experience in a particular field or discipline, in contrast with senior technical specialists, executives do not utilise these attributes as a vocation - rather, their experience informs their management of others in achieving organisational goals.

Other staff

There may be other staff within an agency who work in the same field or discipline as the senior technical specialist. However, the STS tends to be the VPS expert or 'head of discipline' within their area of expertise.

Senior technical specialists undertake projects and endeavours of significantly greater complexity than other non-executives. These projects are major Government initiatives and carry a far greater risk to Government than a non-executive would typically be expected to manage. The nature of the required expertise means that the recruitment market is often very limited.

Typical functions:

While some VPS jobs will have one or more of the specialist professional category qualities, jobs only meet the senior technical specialist standard if they are consistent with the following:

  • the role is commonly recognised as a profession
  • the primary focus of the role is practising the profession at the expert level
  • where the role includes managing others, the focus is on providing leadership, guidance and inspiration within the profession or discipline
  • the job represents the highest level of expertise in the agency career structure within the specific field
  • the job requires recognition as an expert within the particular field
  • the level of expertise and specialisation is rare within the agency and, as a general rule, the field.

These positions are unique within the VPS. A Department Secretary must approve any offer of a position at the senior technical specialist grade.

For further detail about the expectations of each grade, please refer to the VPS Enterprise Agreement 2016 (Schedule E).