Excepted appointments are exempt by law, regulation or Executive Order from the competitive service and, thus, are in the excepted service. These positions are generally grouped under three "schedules":
- Schedule A is for positions for which it is not practical to hold competitive examinations, such as attorney, dentist, chaplain, and pre-approved, agency-specific positions. These are also reserved for critical hiring needs and for appointment of severely disabled individuals.
- Schedule B positions include appointments through the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP), federal fellowships, student internships, and bank examiners.
- Schedule C positions are of a policy-determining nature or involve a close personal relationship between the incumbent and an agency's head or key officials. They are almost always political appointments.
Some agencies –such as the Central Intelligence Agency, Government Accountability Office, and U.S. Postal Service –are staffed entirely through excepted service appointments. These agencies have their own hiring systems, with criteria and processes that are often comparable to those used for the competitive service.
Excepted appointments can be permanent, temporary, or time-limited. Employees appointed to a permanent excepted appointment typically must complete a one-year trial period.
Excepted employees may be eligible for federal insurance and other benefits. However, the terms and conditions of each appointment, as well as the individual's work schedule, will determine benefits eligibility.