#ASTD2014 Presentation: Web-based Career Pathing at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Having spent time in the military, I have an idea of career pathing. The folks at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) took it another level. With a public accessible site, GFSC created a user-friendly career path site for its employees.

The site provides information about all of the positions available in NASA GSFC to include training, position description information, education, competencies, skills, transition, and training activities. The site is arranged in three sections: management, technical, and administrative.

Three career tracks


Each career path is arranged in a “swim lane” making it easy to identify skills and knowledge needed for the next level.

Career path "Swim lanes"
Career path “swim lanes”


For employees, the benefits are significant. With this transparent tool, employees will be able to

  • Plan their career by understanding what is needed for training and development.
  • Better understand how to manage their own career (self-responsibility).

For managers, the tool assists with succession planning, and assists supervisors with employee career development discussions.

The tool also provides information for lateral position moves within the organization.

How the site works

Each of the items on the “swim lane” screen allows an individual to drill down. By selecting an item in the far left column, you can see what is required for a specific career field.

Selecting a career field
Selecting a career field

Within each career field description, there is also a competency wheel which lists the various competencies needed.

Competency Wheel
Competency Wheel

When you select a grade within a swim lane, you are presented information about that specific career field grade. This information includes a description, in grade transition information, required education, skills, and competencies. It also provides a link to current job opportunities.

Grade description
Grade description

Here is an example of a competency:

3.2.7. Mishap Investigation (MISHAPINV) [149]
NASA employee who understands NASA mishap investigation policy, and requirements, and has the skills to perform all
aspects of mishap investigation including preserving, collecting, and impounding evidence, interviewing, conducting
analyses, drawing conclusions, generating recommendations, and writing NASA mishap reports.

Competencies are listed in a special dictionary of skills.

Selecting the View In Grade Transition option provides a picture of what is required to transition to a new career. In this case the transition is from a Junior Project Safety Engineer to Reliability Engineer.

In Grade Transition recommendations
In Grade Transition recommendations

Selecting the line between grades in a single swim lane provides information on what is needed for a promotion.

Career track promotion information
Career track promotion information

I thought this was an extremely well thought out and designed career management tool. Everything was very easy to access and clearly displayed. Additionally, everything could be printed. Higher education could learn a lot from the structure provided by a government system. I personally like a clear road map, this is in large part due to my experiences with the military and Civil Air Patrol. Each of those systems was a competency-based system.

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