This page explains the structure of Penn State's competencies program. With this program, job titles, levels, and pay structures are determined.

Structure and Terminology

Job Family - is a group of jobs that serve a similar overall function. (ex: Information Technology, Human Resources, etc)

Job Category - is a further delineation of a job family that allows similar job functions to be combined for purposes of evaluation and management of that function (ex: Applications within the IT Job Family)

Job Title - is associated with a job based upon the required competencies and responsibilities of that position (ex: Systems Administrator)

Level - represents the knowledge and skills required for each job (not all jobs have five levels)

  • Level 1 - Baseline
  • Level 2 - Intermediate
  • Level 3 - Proficient
  • Level 4 - Advanced
  • Level 5 - Mastery


Competencies are a combination of the knowledge and skills needed to effectively perform a role in an organization.

The five key competencies are:

Effective Knowledge is the sum total of education, training, skill and experience required to perform the job to the normally expected standard. This encompasses the depth, scope, integration, and application of skills within and outside the body of knowledge or specialty applicable to an individual job category.

Accountability and Self Management is the degree to which a position requires self direction and the degree of personal accountability required for the work accomplished. It involves responsibility for oversight and providing reports of actions, causes, and results.

Teamwork and Leadership is the degree to which a position must function in a group and the degree of leadership exercised.

Communication is the nature and scope of the communication activity required by a position on a regular basis.

Innovation and Problem Solving is the type of problem resolution, quality improvement activity and/or process and procedure development undertaken in the position.

Additional Resources