Salary Level for a Federal Executive

Presidential appointees receive salaries from the Executive Schedule.
Presidential appointees receive salaries from the Executive Schedule. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

To ensure that all federal government employees are paid equally for equal work, no matter where they work in the U.S., the Office of Personnel Management administers compensation from the same set of tables. It uses the Executive Schedule for federal executives, which are positions appointed by the President, and specified by Congress. As of 2011, rates on this schedule have been frozen at 2010 levels.

Levels V and IV

Levels V and IV are the lowest on the executive schedule with yearly salaries of $145,700 and $155,500, respectively. Level V positions include commissioners such as of the Indian Claims Commission; and directors, such as of the Bureau of Mines. Level IV positions cover assistant secretaries, such as of Defense, Army, the Interior; members of boards, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission; and chief financial officers of several departments such as Justice, Transportation and Labor. The President can appoint up to 34 additional positions that are not currently listed at Levels V and IV.

Levels III and II

Level III executives earn $165,300 per year. This level covers undersecretaries of Agriculture and Defense; chairmen, such as those of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; and administrators such as those of the Maritime Administration and the Office of Electronic Government. Level II pays $179,700 per year and covers deputy secretaries of such departments as State, Defense, Treasury and Transportation; secretaries of the Air Foce, Army and Navy; and directors of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Office of Science and Technology.

Level I

Level I covers the highest appointed cabinet positions and grants compensation at $199,700 per year. They include the secretaries of State, Treasury, Labor, Energy, Education, Transportation, Homeland Security and Defense; the Attorney General; the Commissioner of Social Security; the U.S. Trade Representative; the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; and the Director of National Intelligence.


It is possible for employees paid from other government pay tables, such as the General Schedule or Law Enforcement Schedule, to earn more than those of higher-ranking federal executives. To avoid this situation, federal law puts a maximum limit on this pay from other schedules. This limit is generally Level III of the Executive Schedule. However, those agencies having a certified performance appraisal system may pay up to a maximum limit of Level II of the Executive Schedule.

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