Positions excepted from the competitive service by OPM or by law are placed into three categories, Schedule A, B or C.
- Schedule A positions are positions for which it is not practicable to apply the qualification standards and requirements used in the competitive civil service system and which are not of a confidential or policy determining nature. Examples of Schedule A positions are attorneys, intelligence, and faculty members.
- Schedule B positions are positions for which it is not practicle to hold open competitive examinations, and the positions are not of a confidential or policy determining nature. The persons appointed to Schedule B positions do have to meet the OPM qualification standards for the position. Students in student employment programs are Schedule B.
- Schedule C positions are either key policy determining positions or positions which involve a close personal relationship between the incumbent and key officials. No examinations are required and the agency appoints persons who they determine to be qualified. Political appointees at the sub cabinet level are often Schedule C.
Positions that would ordinarily be in the competitive service are in the excepted service while they are occupied by someone who was appointed under an excepted appointing authority that applies to positions "when filled by" particular individuals.
Within the Department of the Army, the term "excepted position" normally includes those positions paid from appropriated funds which are excepted from the competitive service by Section 8.3 of Civil Service Rule VIII, or Part 213 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or by statute.
Employees in the excepted service normally have no reduction in force assignment rights outside their own competitive level.