Certain jobs on board an ISTO vessel require long term dedication, a regular helping of speaking truth to power, and a need to be kept free of social climbers. These positions are known as Civil Service, and the system has a Martial ranking system. Like the military.

Different jobs around the ship are handled by different Orders of the Civil Service. To become a member is to answer a calling. While none stipulate a vow of poverty or chastity, virtually every Order has laws and customs that prevent self-enrichment as part of fulfilling your normal job.

Every member of the order begins at the bottom. To advance requires the competence and respect of one's peers.

The names of the ranks may vary by order, but the rough progression is as follows:

  1. Apprentice - One who is learning the ways and requires supervision and training
  2. Journeyman - One who has a proven grasp of the fundamentals and can be tasked with the completion tasks
  3. Master - One who has a proven grasp of the esoteric, and can be tasked with the safety and long term planning
  4. Doctor - One who has a proven grasp of the theoretical, and can recommend new techniques and evaluate the efficacy of existing techniques
  5. Elder - One who has retired from active service, and who still participates as a mentor

Unlike military organizations, one advances in rank depending on individual merit. If one has proven they are operating at a Master level, they progress to Master level, regardless of how many Masters may already be at that level. Likewise, just because the ship needs a Doctor doesn't mean the highest scoring Master gets the job.

Elders are revered for their personal experience, not their technical prowess. They often serve as teachers for the Apprentices. Their final rank while working does not matter, one is bestowed the rank of Elder after 30 years of meritorious service. Those who are still actively working past 30 years of service may elect to go by "Master" or "Doctor" until they actually do retire. It is not uncommon for an elderly member of an order to be called Elder by her Apprentice students and Doctor by upper echelon members of the Order.

Civil Service Orders exist for the following ongoing roles on board the ship:

  1. Auditing and Enforcement
  2. Education
  3. Emergency Responders
  4. Engineering
  5. Human Services
  6. Fabrication
  7. Research and Development
  8. Spaceraft Operations and Maintenance