HR: Employment Opportunities
 Job posting 11-21
Opening date: January 24, 2011
Closing date: Open Until Filled

TITLE: IT Specialist, IS-2210, Grades 7, 9; $46,891 to $71,857/yr
TYPE OF POSITION: Trust Fund (non-federal) Indefinite
DIVISION: - High Energy Astrophysics Division
LOCATION: Cambridge, Massachusetts
AREA OF CONSIDERATION: All qualified U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents

First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date. Selection may be made at the grade 7 or 9 level. This is a career ladder opportunity with promotion potential to grade 11. Employee may be non-competitively promoted to the next higher grade, up to grade 11, upon the recommendation of his/her supervisor, based on the position classification as well as his/her qualifications and satisfactory performance.

DUTIES: As an IT Specialist the employee will provide computer-related support of X-ray astronomy research and space observatory operations using the Chandra X-ray observatory. The employee will be involved in planning Chandra science observations; coding, modifying, testing and maintaining software for mission planning; developing and maintaining documentation; drafting and maintain materials for website; and participating in the daily operation of Chandra X-ray Observatory.

At the grade 7 the individual is at the developmental trainee level, where assignments combine performance of productive work with orientation and supervised on-the-job training in areas such as computer programming, developing and analyzing algorithms, data reduction and analysis, and documenting and organizing results. Assignments are expected to allow the trainee to carry out progressively more difficult and responsible tasks.

At the grade 9 the individual would receive less supervision and guidance.


Basic Qualifications: Must possess IT related experience demonstrating each of the four competencies listed below.

1. Attention to Detail - Is thorough when performing work and conscientious about attending to detail.

2. Customer Service - Works with clients and customers (that is, any individuals who use or receive the services or products that your work unit produces, including the general public, individuals who work in the agency, other agencies, or organizations outside the Government) to assess their needs, provide information or assistance, resolve their problems, or satisfy their expectations; knows about available products and services; is committed to providing quality products and services.

3. Oral Communication - Expresses information (for example, ideas or facts) to individuals or groups effectively, taking into account the audience and nature of the information (for example, technical, sensitive, controversial); makes clear and convincing oral presentations; listens to others, attends to nonverbal cues, and responds appropriately.

4. Problem Solving - Identifies problems; determines accuracy and relevance of information; uses sound judgment to generate and evaluate alternatives, and to make recommendations.


Candidates must possess the qualifications required for the specific grade level for which they are applying as noted below.

Candidates for grade 7 must possess a minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 5 in the normal line of progression for this occupation which should demonstrate knowledge of programming techniques and computer equipment and systems software; knowledge of Unix or Linux; knowledge of a higher –level programming language such as FORTRAN or C; and knowledge of HTML

Candidates for grade 9 must possess a minimum of one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the grade 7 in the normal line of progression for this occupation which should demonstrate knowledge of a scripting language such as Perl, Python, or Unix shell scripting; knowledge of mathematics to be able to develop and analyze algorithms and perform the necessary calculations to develop code; knowledge of physics and astronomy to be able to understand the basic scientific concepts pertaining to Chandra mission; skill in analyzing problems and developing solutions; and skill in oral and written communication.


All academic degrees and coursework must be from accredited or pre-accredited institutions

Undergraduate or Graduate Education: Degree in computer science, engineering, information science, information systems management, mathematics, operations research, statistics, or technology management or degree that provided a minimum of 24 semester hours in one or more of the fields identified above and required the development or adaptation of applications, systems or networks.

Grade 7: 1 full year of graduate level education or superior academic achievement

Grade 9: master's degree or equivalent graduate degree or 2 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to a master's degree or equivalent graduate degree

Note: Appointment will be subject to the applicant’s successful/satisfactory completion of a pre-appointment background check and subsequent background investigation, including fingerprinting. Applicants who have experience in a research environment are encouraged to augment their resumes by elaborating on their software and research experience by 1) briefly relating research projects and their objectives, and 2) describing how specific software was applied to the scientific research being conducted. A transcript must be submitted with your application if you are basing all or part of your qualifications on education.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: We will only accept applications on line for this position. For complete information and online application procedures, please visit USAJOBS

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace.

Visit our SAO website.


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