SOC Code: 13-1199.65 (VA Extension Code)

Pay Band(s): 4,5 and 6         (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: There is no standard occupational description for the occupation of Program Specialist as used by the Commonwealth. This occupation will be included in the Business Operations Specialist, All Others. This group is comprised of many different types of business occupations with a wide range of characteristics

Commonwealth of Virginia Description: Develop and implement programs and interpret the program's policies and procedures. Provides advice on policies, procedures, and laws to ensure that program operations meet state and federal requirements and interpretations are consistent.  Prepare operations and procedures manuals to assist management in operating more efficiently and effectively. Perform an array of technical, training, research, planning, policy, program assessment, and administrative activities.

Program Specialist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Program Administration Career Group

Program Administration Specialist I

Program Administration Specialist II

Program Administration Specialist III

While Program Specialists within the Commonwealth are all located within the Program Administration Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

General Administration

Training and Instruction

Policy Analysis and Planning


(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Program Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  2. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  3. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  4. Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  5. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  6. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  7. Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  8. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  9. Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  10. Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Program Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Business and management principles involved in strategic planning, financial management, policy analysis, program evaluation, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  2. Program area and the laws, regulations, policies and procedures relevant to the program.
  3. Programs practices, techniques, methods, instruments, and equipment.
  4. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  5. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  6.  Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  7. Principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  8. Project management processes and techniques.

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Program Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  2. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  3. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  4. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  5. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  6. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  7. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  8. Choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  9. Gather and interpret data, reach logical conclusions and present findings and recommendations.

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Program Specialists.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 


  1. Plan, develop and coordinate program activities to meet organizational objectives and goals.
  2. Conduct studies and research to evaluate and assess the quality of the program's results.
  3. Document findings of study and prepare recommendations for implementation of new systems, procedures, or program changes.
  4. Conduct needs assessment to determine training activities or to determine areas requiring additional resources and new program implementation.
  5. Provide technical training to staff and others.
  6. Make formal presentation relating to program matters.
  7. Provide program consultation in such areas as policy intent and regulatory requirements.
  8. Draft policies and procedures for program implementation.
  9. Interpret policies and procedures to facilitate service delivery and program performance.
  10. Monitor progress of program objectives that affect the quality and level of services provided and the program's success.
  11. Provide guidance and support to programs through research, supervision, and liaison activities.
  12. Research and compile program data and present summary of findings in the form of written narrative and present numerical/statistical data in the form of charts and graphs.
  13.  Serve as a project leader or participant on Federal and/or State program initiatives.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Program Specialist has Investigative, Enterprising and Conventional characteristics as described below:

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


Generally this is not required for Program Specialist positions in state government. However

certification and/or licensure may be required depending upon the specialty of the government program.


Program specialists are responsible for a variety of administrative, business and operational functions necessary to run a government program(s) efficiently. They provide assistance and consultation to other government employees and to clients on government programs that provide services to a target population. The clients served range from those interested in benefits, employment, and other services to those that are actually in-the-care of the government as those with severe disabilities or perpetrators of crimes.

Because of the diversity of programs and levels of responsibility, the educational backgrounds of program specialists vary considerably. College graduates who have majored in a wide range of fields typically fill entry-level jobs. Many employers seek college graduates who have majored in business administration or public administration. Other employers look for college graduates with a technical or specific field of study. In addition to the appropriate formal education, most entrants to this occupation have experience in the program specialties. Previous experience in the program area is often an asset and is required particularly for advanced positions and managers.

The growing diversity of the workforce and the population requires that program specialists work with or supervise people with various cultural backgrounds, levels of education, and experience. They must be able to cope with conflicting points of view, function under pressure, and demonstrate discretion, integrity, fair-mindedness, and a persuasive, congenial personality.

Program Specialists also routinely attend conferences to keep abreast of current developments in their field.

The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) lists Virginia educational institutions offering a variety of educational programs in business management, public administration, political science, and community and social occupations. SCHEV's web site is:

This occupation is found in a variety of State agencies such as the Department of Social Services, Department of Health, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services.


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Program Specialist







Program Administration Specialist I



Program Administration Manager I


Program Administration Specialist II



Program Administration Manager II


Program Administration Specialist III



Program Administration Manager III


Sample Career Path

Program Administration Specialist I

The Program Administration Specialist I role provides a career track for program specialists who provide services in a program area that range from entry level professional to first-line supervisors. Employees' responsibilities require a specialized knowledge of the program area and the laws, regulations, policies and procedures relevant to the program.

Program Administration Specialist II

The Program Administration Specialist II role provides career tracks for program specialists who perform advanced-level responsibilities focusing on intermediate to long-range program issues affecting program activities and services development, planning, delivery, monitoring, and evaluation. Responsibilities may extend to local, state and federal organizations as well as private individuals in order to promote service delivery.

Program Administration Specialist III

The Program Administration Specialist III role provides career tracks for program specialists who serve as a subject matter expert and authority in an assigned area of responsibility. Specialists in this role are assigned the agency's highest programmatic priorities. Responsibilities relate to the development, delivery, and support of statewide program activities and services.

Program Administration Manager I

The Program Administration Manager I role provides a career track for first-level managers who perform day-to-day program administration and service delivery within organizational unit(s). Responsibilities include management of administrative, budgeting, operational and programmatic activities.

Program Administration Manager II

The Program Administration Manager II role provides career tracks for managers who focus on immediate to long-range program issues affecting the management of a program. Typical responsibilities within this role include management of administrative, budgeting, planning, scheduling, operational, and programmatic activities.

Program Administration Manager III

The Program Administration Manager III role provides career tracks for managers who oversee multiple program activities that are long-range in focus. Responsibilities include management of complex programs; identification of target population needs, monitoring programs, evaluation of overall program performance, implementation of policies and procedures, and supervision of all levels of program personnel.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network