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Competencies Proficiency Scale

The NIH Proficiency Scale is an instrument used to measure one’s ability to demonstrate a competency on the job. The scale captures a wide range of ability levels and organizes them into five steps; from “Fundamental Awareness” to “Expert”.

In combination with the Proficiency Map for a specific occupation, an individual can compare their current level of proficiency to top performers in the same occupation. This scale serves as the guide to understanding the expected proficiency level of top performers at each grade level.

Score

Proficiency Level

Description

N/A

Not Applicable

You are not required to apply or demonstrate this competency. This competency is not applicable to your position.

1

Fundamental Awareness
(basic knowledge)

You have a common knowledge or an understanding of basic techniques and concepts.

  • Focus is on learning.

2

Novice
(limited experience)

You have the level of experience gained in a classroom and/or experimental scenarios or as a trainee on-the-job. You are expected to need help when performing this skill.

  • Focus is on developing through on-the-job experience;
  • You understand and can discuss terminology, concepts, principles, and issues related to this competency;
  • You utilize the full range of reference and resource materials in this competency.

3

Intermediate
(practical application)

You are able to successfully complete tasks in this competency as requested. Help from an expert may be required from time to time, but you can usually perform the skill independently.

  • Focus is on applying and enhancing knowledge or skill;
  • You have applied this competency to situations occasionally while needing minimal guidance to perform successfully;
  • You understand and can discuss the application and implications of changes to processes, policies, and procedures in this area.

4

Advanced
(applied theory)

You can perform the actions associated with this skill without assistance. You are certainly recognized within your immediate organization as "a person to ask" when difficult questions arise regarding this skill.

  • Focus is on broad organizational/professional issues;
  • You have consistently provided practical/relevant ideas and perspectives on process or practice improvements which may easily be implemented;
  • You are capable of coaching others in the application of this competency by translating complex nuances relating to this competency into easy to understand terms;
  • You participate in senior level discussions regarding this competency;
  • You assist in the development of reference and resource materials in this competency.

5

Expert
(recognized authority)

You are known as an expert in this area. You can provide guidance, troubleshoot and answer questions related to this area of expertise and the field where the skill is used.

  • Focus is strategic;
  • You have demonstrated consistent excellence in applying this competency across multiple projects and/or organizations;
  • You are considered the “go to” person in this area within NIH and/or outside organizations;
  • You create new applications for and/or lead the development of reference and resource materials for this competency;
  • You are able to diagram or explain the relevant process elements and issues in relation to organizational issues and trends in sufficient detail during discussions and presentations, to foster a greater understanding among internal and external colleagues and constituents.

Note: The NIH Proficiency Scale was updated to facilitate the migration to the HHS Learning Management System. (Updated January 12, 2009)

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