Federal Hiring Advantages

Your edge for employment at the Peace Corps and other federal agencies

Upon successful completion of Peace Corps service, you gain two special hiring advantages: non-competitive eligibility (NCE) throughout the federal government and the Peace Corps Hiring Benefit (PCHB).

NCE and PCHB basics


What is NCE?

Non-competitive eligibility (NCE) is granted to eligible Peace Corps employees under the Peace Corps Act and granted to eligible Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), including Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs) when applicable, by an Executive Order signed by President Kennedy. (See below for these legal authorities.)

Specifically, NCE provides an authority for Peace Corps employees and RPCVs to apply for “competitive service” positions at other U.S. government agencies for which they would not otherwise be eligible to compete. When a federal agency posts a vacancy announcement on USAJOBS for a competitive service position (i.e., for “federal employees only”) and that vacancy announcement includes the Peace Corps icon in the “Hiring Path” portion of the announcement, Peace Corps employees and RPCVs with NCE are eligible to apply as if they are currently in the competitive service, although they also must meet the qualifications listed in the announcement. The decision whether to hire those granted NCE status who meet the minimum qualifications for a position is at the discretion of the hiring agency. NCE does not entitle an individual to federal employment, and it is not a selection “preference” (e.g., Veterans’ Preference).

After reviewing the application, if the employing agency selects a Peace Corps employee or RPCV granted NCE for the position, that individual will then be appointed as a career-conditional employee in the competitive service and will automatically acquire career competitive service status upon completion of a probationary period. (See below for the distinction between competitive service and excepted service in federal government employment.)


NCE eligibility

Returned Volunteers

In accordance with Executive Order 11103, the granting of NCE status to RPCVs is limited to those who have served satisfactorily for at least 24 consecutive months.

Response Volunteers

PCRVs who serve satisfactorily and for a total of at least 24 consecutive months with Peace Corps Response are eligible to be granted NCE. Because PCRVs generally serve shorter periods of time, they are rarely eligible for NCE. However, they are generally eligible for the Peace Corps Hiring Benefit (PCHB).

Peace Corps employees

Peace Corps employees who have completed 36 months of continuous employment at the Peace Corps may also be granted NCE status.


What are the competitive service and excepted service?

Most jobs in the federal government are considered part of the competitive service, which is governed by the civil service laws established by Congress and regulations established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

There are a smaller number of federal government jobs that are not part of the competitive service and are excepted from many civil service laws and regulations. These jobs are part of the excepted service. The Peace Corps is an excepted service agency.

Employment in the excepted service does not establish eligibility to apply for positions in the competitive service. If a federal job is only open to competitive service employees, excepted service employees normally may not apply. However, NCE is a mechanism that may, under certain circumstances, open this hiring opportunity to RPCVs and Peace Corps employees.


What authorities provide NCE for Peace Corps Volunteers and Peace Corps staff?


How does NCE work?

A federal agency considers candidates granted NCE status for competitive service jobs on a case-by-case basis. If an agency is willing to accept such candidates, it will be made clear on the “Hiring Path” portion of the announcement on USAJOBS. Agencies accepting both competitive service candidates and those granted NCE status will generally create two separate lists for consideration – a list of competitive service candidates, who have been scored and ranked, and a list of those with NCE status who may be appointed by the agency into the competitive service.

The hiring official has the option to interview candidates from the ranked list and also from the list of candidates with NCE status. The hiring official interviews and decides whom to hire based on its determination of who is most qualified to carry out the duties of the position.

To answer specific questions regarding NCE, reach out to the human resources contact identified in the job announcement.


Is NCE a preference?

No, NCE is not a preference. Veterans, on the other hand, do receive preference in federal hiring and, depending on their particular status (i.e., whether or not they have a disability), generally are placed at the top of the list for consideration.

Federal employees who are displaced through layoffs (e.g., CTAP, ICTAP, RPL) are granted a hiring priority and in some cases must be selected before other candidates.

It is best to think of NCE as a “hiring option" that the hiring agency has. Hiring officials have the option of hiring from a list of candidates with NCE status.


How do I demonstrate NCE?

For Peace Corps Volunteers

The Description of Service (DOS) document, which Volunteers and PCRVs receive upon successful completion of their service, must include a certification of NCE.

If a Volunteer does not have their DOS, a request can be made through the RPCV Portal. For detailed procedures, please see Certifications of Service.

If the DOS is on file, the Volunteer will receive the document through the RPCV Portal. If the document is not on file, they can request it directly from their country of service. Contact information for individual Peace Corps Posts can be found at www.peacecorps.gov/countries.

For Peace Corps employees

Peace Corps employees who have completed 36 months of continuous employment at the agency may contact the Office of Human Resources at [email protected] to receive their NCE letter, which confirms their NCE eligibility.


How do I find NCE jobs?

Visit USAJOBS.gov:

  • Start a job search (click search).
  • On the right-hand menu scroll down and click the "Peace Corps & AmeriCorps Vista" box.
  • This will provide a list of job announcements open to applicants with NCE status.
  • When submitting applications, certification of NCE eligibility (i.e., a Volunteer DOS or employee NCE letter) should be included to confirm an applicant’s NCE status.

Visit the RPCV Career Link to view job vacancies that accept NCE:

  • Click on the box that reads “ONLY SHOW NONCOMPETITIVE ELIGIBILITY JOBS”.
  • A list of NCE vacancies will then appear for applicants to review and apply for.

When does NCE expire?

For an eligible RPCV, NCE status lasts for one year (i.e., 12 months from their service completion date). For a Peace Corps employee, NCE is valid for three years after separation from qualifying employment with the Peace Corps.


May NCE be extended beyond 12 months?

Term of NCE for eligible RPCVs

Executive Order 11103 Sec. 4. provides that the 12 months of NCE status granted to eligible RPCVs may be extended at the discretion of the hiring agency to not more than three years from service completion date in the case of persons who, following such service, are engaged in military service, in the pursuit of studies at a government-accredited institution of higher learning, or engaged in other activities which, in the view of the hiring agency, warrant an extension.

To establish eligibility for an extension due to engagement in military service, be prepared to provide a DD Form 214. (Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website to learn how to request your DD Form 214.) To establish eligibility for an extension due to the pursuit of studies at an accredited institution of higher learning, be prepared to provide a transcript from the institution. To meet the third extension (“other activities”) criteria, be prepared to provide documentation showing that the activity warrants an extension. It is up to the hiring agency to determine whether to grant the extension.

Term of NCE for eligible Peace Corps employees

NCE status for qualifying Peace Corps employees is valid for three years and may not be extended.


What is the Peace Corps Hiring Benefit (PCHB)?

The Peace Corps is an excepted service agency outside of the competitive service. (Click here to learn about the distinction between competitive service and excepted service in federal government employment.) The Peace Corps Hiring Benefit (PCHB) is a hiring mechanism offered by the Peace Corps only to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), including Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteers (RPCRVs), who have satisfactorily completed their term of service. (This benefit is referred to internally as “Peace Corps Eligibility [PCE].”) This benefit is not offered to Peace Corps employees.

The PCHB is limited to domestic positions within the Peace Corps and does not relate to employment at other federal agencies. The decision whether to hire a candidate with PCHB status is at the discretion of the Peace Corps hiring official.

The PCHB permits, but does not require, the agency to:

(a) hire a RPCV from a list of applicants who are eligible and meet the minimum qualifications for an entry level position (i.e., positions at the Foreign Pay (FP) grades 5/6/7); and

(b) limit competition for non-entry level positions (i.e., FP 4 and above) only to RPCVs eligible for the PCHB and internal Peace Corps candidates.


When does PCHB expire?

The PCHB commences immediately upon the satisfactory completion of a Peace Corps Volunteer’s, or PCRV’s, term of Peace Corps service and lasts for three years. There is currently no provision to extend that period beyond three years.


How do I utilize my PCHB?

The Description of Service (DOS) document, which a Volunteer or PCRV receives upon successful completion of their service, must be provided to determine eligibility for the PCHB.

If a RPCV does not have their DOS, a request may be made through the RPCV Portal to retrieve it. For detailed procedures, please see “Certifications of Service.”

If the DOS is on file with the agency, the RPCV will receive the document through the RPCV Portal. If the document is not on file, they may request it directly from their country of service. Contact information for individual Peace Corps Posts can be found at www.peacecorps.gov/countries.

Entry level positions

Those who are eligible for the PCHB may apply to the Peace Corps Eligibility (PCE) Roster announcement on USAJOBS to be considered for Peace Corps employee entry level positions (i.e., positions at the FP grades 5/6/7). Applications should be updated every three months. To do so, applicants should log in to USAJOBS, make any necessary updates to their applications, and resubmit them for consideration. The PCE Roster announcement is posted annually on USAJOBS, so those with PCHB status should re-apply at the beginning of each year to remain on the PCE Roster.

Non-entry level positions

Those with eligibility for the PCHB may also apply directly for Peace Corps non-entry level domestic positions (i.e., positions at FP 4 and above) posted on USAJOBS. The Office of Human Resources will review their applications alongside candidates who are internal to the agency.

Volunteers considering Peace Corps employment prior to completion of service

Volunteers and PCRVs who will complete their service within 90 days may apply to the PCE Roster or other Peace Corps domestic positions announced on USAJOBS using a provisional letter of PCHB eligibility signed by their Country Director. (Internally, this letter is called the “Pre-Close of Service Consideration of Peace Corps Eligibility Letter.”) Appointment to such a position is subject to their satisfactory completion of service and submission of their signed DOS.