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Hiring Paths

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make before applying for an IHS position is choosing the hiring path you wish to pursue. Each path offers outstanding career rewards, competitive compensation and a comprehensive benefits package based on your level of training and experience.

One perk for IHS dental health professional s is the option to pursue one of two Loan Repayment Programs: the IHS Loan Repayment Program (LRP) and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program (LRP). Each program allows you to reduce your debt on a set timetable and requires a multi-year initial employment commitment.

Federal Path

Your first option is to become a federal employee. There are two types of federal positions within IHS.

Civil Service

Civil service is direct federal employment that offers great career flexibility.

  • No multi-year commitment.
  • No age requirement.
  • Great for those with prior federal employment experience.

Visit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [Link to] for more information on employment and benefits as a federal civil servant.

Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS)

Although the USPHS is one of the United States uniformed services, it is not a military service. However, pay and benefits are similar to the military and allow those with active-duty time to maintain their uniform service benefits.

  • Requires a minimum two-year service commitment. You must be under 44 at the time of commission. An exception may be made for those with active-duty time in any uniformed service.
  • Offers eligibility to receive a $150,000 signing bonus with a four-year Commissioned Corps commitment; specialists may receive up to $300,000.

To become a Commissioned Corps officer, you must apply for your commission through the USPHS in addition to applying for a position at IHS. Visit USPHS or contact an IHS dental recruiter for any questions about applying to the USPHS Commissioned Corps.

Note: The USPHS is currently only recruiting dentists. Dental hygienists and dental assistants should apply for civil service or through direct Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program hire at this time.

Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program Hire

Working directly for a Tribe or Urban Indian Health Program offers you close integration with the community you serve. Positions listed as a Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program hire are not part of the federal personnel system; instead, your compensation, benefits and advancement are negotiated directly with the program’s human resources department. Tribal or Urban Indian Health Program positions offer comparable benefits and pay to federal positions, and there may be more flexibility and salary incentives in high-cost areas.

Ready to start a career with IHS?

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Civil Service vs Commissioned Corps

View a detailed chart (PDF- 45KB) comparing the two federal hiring paths.

Hear from three IHS Dentists who followed different Hiring Paths