A Comprehensive Guide To Title 38 Pay Schedules

Understanding Title 38 pay schedules is crucial for federal employees working under this employment system. With multiple pay grades and locality pay adjustments, Title 38 pay can seem complex at first glance.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Title 38 pay schedules are special salary structures used by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to compensate physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, chiropractors, and other healthcare workers.

There are multiple Title 38 pay scales that take into account factors like years of experience, board certifications, and geographic location.

In this comprehensive 3000 word guide, we will explore what exactly Title 38 pay is, who it applies to, how the various Title 38 pay scales and grades work, how salaries are calculated based on location, how to advance within Title 38 grades, and more.

With detailed examples and insights from VA pay experts, you’ll gain a full understanding of how Title 38 pay structures operate.

What is Title 38 Pay?

Title 38 pay refers to a specific pay system used in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for certain healthcare professionals. It is named after Title 38 of the United States Code, which governs the VA’s personnel system.

This pay system is designed to attract and retain high-quality healthcare professionals by offering competitive salaries and benefits.

Definition and overview of Title 38 pay system

The Title 38 pay system is unique because it allows the VA to establish its own pay rates for healthcare professionals, rather than following the General Schedule (GS) pay system used by most federal agencies.

This flexibility enables the VA to offer higher salaries and additional benefits to healthcare professionals, making it more competitive with the private sector.

Under the Title 38 pay system, healthcare professionals are classified into various occupational series, such as physicians, nurses, and psychologists. Each occupational series has its own pay structure, which takes into account factors such as education, experience, and specialized skills.

Brief background on creation of Title 38 employment system

The Title 38 employment system was established in 1991 as a result of the Veterans Health Care Personnel Act. This act aimed to address the recruitment and retention challenges faced by the VA in attracting and retaining healthcare professionals.

The creation of the Title 38 employment system allowed the VA to offer more competitive salaries and benefits to healthcare professionals, helping to improve the quality of care provided to veterans.

Prior to the implementation of the Title 38 employment system, the VA relied on the General Schedule (GS) pay system, which often made it difficult to recruit and retain healthcare professionals due to lower salaries compared to the private sector.

How Title 38 pay differs from General Schedule pay system

There are several key differences between the Title 38 pay system and the General Schedule (GS) pay system. One of the main differences is that the Title 38 pay system allows the VA to establish its own pay rates for healthcare professionals, whereas the GS pay system follows a standardized pay scale set by the Office of Personnel Management.

Additionally, the Title 38 pay system offers more flexibility in setting salaries and benefits, allowing the VA to be more competitive in attracting and retaining healthcare professionals. This flexibility enables the VA to tailor compensation packages to the unique needs and demands of healthcare professions, ensuring that they are fairly compensated for their work.

Furthermore, the Title 38 pay system often provides higher salaries and additional benefits compared to the GS pay system, making it an attractive option for healthcare professionals seeking employment within the VA.

Who is Covered Under the Title 38 Pay System?

The Title 38 Pay System covers a wide range of healthcare professionals who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This system is designed to attract and retain high-quality medical staff by offering competitive salaries and benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at who is covered under the Title 38 Pay System.

Physicians and Dentists

One of the key groups covered under the Title 38 Pay System are physicians and dentists. These highly skilled professionals play a crucial role in providing medical care to our nation’s veterans. The VA recognizes the importance of attracting and retaining top talent in these fields, which is why they offer competitive pay and benefits to physicians and dentists who work within the VA system.


In addition to physicians and dentists, nurses are also covered under the Title 38 Pay System. Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare team, providing essential care to patients. The VA recognizes the value of nurses and offers competitive salaries to attract and retain top nursing talent.

This helps ensure that veterans receive the highest quality of care possible.

Other Medical Professionals

The Title 38 Pay System also covers other medical professionals, such as podiatrists and optometrists. These specialized healthcare providers offer unique services that are essential for the well-being of veterans.

By including these professionals under the Title 38 Pay System, the VA can attract and retain the best talent in these fields, ensuring that veterans have access to the specialized care they need.

Healthcare Trainees and Interns

Lastly, the Title 38 Pay System also applies to healthcare trainees and interns who work within the VA system. These individuals are in the early stages of their medical careers and play a vital role in providing care to veterans.

By offering competitive pay and benefits, the VA can attract and retain these trainees and interns, helping to shape the next generation of healthcare professionals.

It’s important to note that the specific pay and benefits offered under the Title 38 Pay System may vary depending on factors such as experience, education, and location. For more detailed information on the Title 38 Pay System and how it applies to specific healthcare professions, you can visit the official Department of Veterans Affairs website at www.va.gov.

Explaining the Various Title 38 Pay Scales and Grades

Physician and dentist pay scale – how the grades work

The Title 38 pay scale for physicians and dentists is structured based on a grading system that determines their salary. The grades in this pay scale range from GS-12 to GS-15, with GS-12 being the entry-level grade and GS-15 being the highest.

Each grade corresponds to a specific level of experience and expertise. As physicians and dentists gain more experience and demonstrate proficiency in their field, they can advance to higher grades, which come with increased pay and benefits.

The pay scale for physicians and dentists is designed to attract and retain highly skilled professionals in the healthcare sector.

Nurse pay scale overview

The Title 38 pay scale for nurses is also based on a grading system. Nurses are classified into different grades, ranging from GS-5 to GS-12. The grade at which a nurse is placed depends on factors such as education, experience, and level of responsibility.

Nurses with higher levels of education and experience are typically placed in higher grades, which offer higher salaries and additional benefits. This pay scale recognizes the importance of nurses in providing quality healthcare and rewards them for their dedication and expertise.

Clinical vs. non-clinical pay scales

The Title 38 pay scales distinguish between clinical and non-clinical positions. Clinical positions refer to roles that involve direct patient care, such as physicians, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

Non-clinical positions, on the other hand, are administrative or support roles that do not involve direct patient care, such as medical coders, health information technicians, and human resources personnel.

The pay scales for clinical and non-clinical positions may differ due to the nature of the work and the level of responsibility associated with each role.

Differences between full-time and part-time pay

The Title 38 pay scales also account for the difference between full-time and part-time employment. Full-time employees work a standard 40-hour workweek, while part-time employees work fewer hours. The pay scale for part-time employees is prorated based on the number of hours worked.

This means that part-time employees receive a proportionate salary and benefits based on their hours worked. The pay scale ensures that both full-time and part-time employees are compensated fairly and in accordance with their work schedules.

How Geographic Location Impacts Title 38 Salaries

When it comes to Title 38 salaries, the geographic location plays a significant role in determining the amount an employee will earn. Understanding how geographic location impacts pay is essential for those working under the Title 38 pay schedules.

Understanding locality pay and geographic adjustments

Locality pay is an additional compensation given to federal employees to offset the differences in the cost of living across different areas. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) determines the locality pay rates based on the price differences for goods and services in different geographic areas.

These adjustments help to ensure that employees are paid adequately based on the costs they incur in their respective locations.

Geographic adjustments are made to the basic salary to account for differences in labor markets, availability of skilled professionals, and other factors specific to a particular area. These adjustments can vary from one location to another, and they are usually reflected in the Title 38 salary tables.

Reviewing national and regional Title 38 salary tables

For Title 38 employees, it is crucial to review the national and regional salary tables to determine how their salaries will be affected by their geographic location. The OPM provides comprehensive tables that outline the base pay, locality pay, and geographic adjustments for different areas.

By referring to these salary tables, Title 38 employees can get an accurate estimate of the compensation they can expect based on their geographic location. This information can be useful when considering relocation or comparing job opportunities in different areas.

Most and least expensive areas for Title 38 employees

Some areas in the United States are known for being more expensive to live in, which is reflected in the Title 38 salary tables. For example, cities like San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu often have higher locality pay rates due to their high costs of living.

On the other hand, areas with lower costs of living may have lower locality pay rates.

It is important for Title 38 employees to take into account the expenses they will incur when considering job opportunities in different areas. By understanding the most and least expensive areas for Title 38 employees, individuals can make informed decisions about their career and financial goals.

For more information on Title 38 pay schedules and how geographic location impacts salaries, you can visit the official website of the Office of Personnel Management at www.opm.gov.

Advancing Your Career Within Title 38 Grades

Advancing your career within Title 38 grades is an important goal for many professionals in the field. It not only allows for personal growth and development, but also offers increased opportunities for higher salaries and job satisfaction.

Here are some key strategies to help you advance your career within the Title 38 pay schedule:

Gaining Experience to Reach the Next Level

One of the first steps to advancing within the Title 38 grades is gaining relevant experience in your field. This can be achieved through on-the-job training, attending workshops and conferences, or pursuing advanced degrees or certifications.

By continually seeking opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills, you’ll be better equipped to take on more challenging roles and responsibilities.

It’s also important to actively seek out projects or assignments that allow you to demonstrate your abilities and showcase your potential for growth. Taking on new responsibilities and stepping outside of your comfort zone can be a great way to gain valuable experience and catch the attention of supervisors and higher-level management.

Getting Promotions and Certification

Securing promotions within the Title 38 pay schedule often requires a combination of experience, education, and performance. It’s important to stay proactive and engaged in your career by seeking out opportunities for growth and advancement.

This may involve pursuing additional certifications or specialized training that aligns with your career goals.

Regularly reviewing the qualification requirements for higher grade levels can also provide valuable insights into what skills and experiences are necessary for promotion. By aligning your professional development with these requirements, you can position yourself as a strong candidate for advancement.

Salary Bonuses and Incentive Pays

Another way to advance your career within the Title 38 pay schedule is by taking advantage of salary bonuses and incentive pays. Many positions within Title 38 offer various forms of performance-based compensation, such as bonuses for meeting specific goals or incentives for exceeding expectations.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the policies and guidelines surrounding these types of compensation and actively work towards meeting the criteria. By consistently exceeding expectations and demonstrating exceptional performance, you may be eligible for additional financial rewards that can help accelerate your career progression.


Title 38 pay provides attractive salary structures and advancement opportunities for VA physicians, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare workers. While complex on the surface, the various pay grades and locality adjustments ultimately help attract talent and compensate them fairly based on experience, specialization, and geographic differences.

With this comprehensive guide, you should now have a detailed understanding of how Title 38 pay schedules operate – from coverage criteria to locality adjustments to promotions within grades. Armed with this knowledge, you can better navigate your Title 38 employment and take steps to continue advancing your VA career and salary over time.

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