Frequently Asked Questions about Employment in Local Government

I am looking for a position in local government. Whom do I need to contact?
Positions in local government fall under the jurisdiction of a local Civil Service Commission or a Personnel Officer. Each county is responsible for administering civil service for the county and all civil divisions within the county including: towns, villages, school districts, special districts and cities, except in certain cities or suburban towns, which have elected to administer civil service. Depending on where you wish to seek public employment, you may wish to contact either the County, City or Town Civil Service Office. For a complete listing of all the municipal civil service agencies, check out
I am interested in possibly taking this study course if it is of any value in preparing for upcoming exam. Can you shed some light on this or perhaps recommend a course of study or study guides that will assist in the preparation of taking these examinations?
This department has a long history of not endorsing or recommending civil service examination preparation courses. Although the interest of candidates of preparing for civil service examinations is certainly understandable, no tutorial service has direct contact with this department or its examiners; we are therefore not in a position to judge the value of one program over another. Since our department is responsible for the development of the examinations, our staff cannot be involved in the development or even an endorsement of such programs. It has always been our opinion that the most important document to review in preparing for any written test is the examination announcement itself. Candidates should pay careful attention to the subjects of examination and the descriptions provided on the announcements to determine what will and what will not likely be covered in the exam. Depending upon the individual, some may benefit from participation in such courses and others may not.
Where can I find examination announcements for positions in local government?
Information about upcoming examinations and applications for positions in local government may be obtained from the municipal civil service agency which is responsible for administering civil service for that jurisdiction. The municipal service agency also distributes announcements to other agencies and institutions including: New York State Employment Service, post offices, libraries, schools, colleges, community centers, community action agencies and community organizations. Some agencies' post their announcements on the internet. To view municipal civil service agencies examination announcements that are offered on-line check out:
I will be taking an examination for a position in local government. Are there study guides/ exam materials available?
Test Guides published by the New York State Department of Civil Service are usually targeted to specific, entry-level titles. Test Guides are not provided for every examination. If a Test Guide is provided for an examination, information about the guide will appear on the examination announcement. Test Guides are designed to familiarize candidates with the format of the test. Test Guides provide a description of the subject areas that will be tested and present samples of the types of test material that will appear on the test. The sample test material is similar to what the candidates will see on the actual test. If sample questions are provided, the solution and correct answer will be provided after each sample question. Candidates should pay close attention to the "Subjects of Examination" listed on the examination announcement for information on the test type and content of the examination. Candidates should focus their examination preparation upon the information given in the examination announcement. All available test guides can be found at:
Why are test guides not available for promotion examinations?
As a general rule, the Test Guides developed by this Department are targeted to the "entry- level" occupations, e.g., Police Officer, Correction Officer, Fire Fighter, Clerical, etc. This effort is done to provide candidates who are not familiar with civil service testing an opportunity to become somewhat familiar with civil service examinations generally and thereby minimize the amount of test confusion that can affect candidate scores and interfere with the accurate assessment of the areas being tested. There are relatively few exceptions to this "entry-level" (open-competitive) level of candidate preparation offered by this department. These exceptions are related to examinations where there is an unusual test format, e.g., Written Incident Simulation Exercise, In-Basket Exercise, etc. In these instances, the test guides are designed more to familiarize candidates with the format of the test than to assist the candidate to prepare for the test content. An example of this type of Test Guide in the police service would be for some of the Police Chief examinations in the larger municipalities that have both Written Simulation and In-Basket exercises.
What information, other than Test Guides, would be helpful to review before my examination?
When preparing for any examination, the most important document that you should carefully read and consider is the announcement itself.   Pay close attention to the "Subjects of Examination" section of the announcements where you can be informed about the test type and content and focus your examination preparation upon the information described in this portion of the announcement. In addition, you may find general examination information at the following New York State Department of Civil Service web site:  This web site has some general exam-related information, including "How to Take a Written Test" and "Questions and Answers about Municipal Civil Service Exams" that you may find useful.
When will I receive the results from the examination I took?
Typically, examination results are generated from this department to the local civil service agency within 60 days. It is the local civil service agency who will send you your results. To inquire about your results, we recommend you contact the local civil service agency who was responsible for the administration of your examination. A listing of local civil service agencies can be found on our web site at:
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unavailable to take my examination on the scheduled test date. What can I do?
You should contact the local civil service agency responsible for your examination and inquire about an Alternate Test Date. Based on your situation and the civil service agency's Alternate Test Date policy, you may be eligible to take the examination on a different date.
What do I do in order to participate in examinations which are being held on the same date for two different civil service agencies?
You are referring to something known as cross-filing. In order to cross-file, you would need to contact both civil service agencies to which you applied and let each agency know where you intend on taking both examinations and, additionally, which examinations you have signed up for. The civil service agencies will make the arrangements with our office to ensure that all your exam material will be at the selected site.However, if one of the examinations you signed up for is a State examination, then you will have no option to take the exam at the local civil service agency test site.  You must cross-file at the State site in this instance.
What does a Municipal Civil Service Commission or Personnel Officer do?
The local civil service commission or personnel officer has many duties and responsibilities including: adopting and enforcing local civil service rules, the authority to investigate the enforcement of the Civil Service Law and Rules, authority to approve applications for competitive examinations, non-competitive appointment and labor class positions, the sole authority to classify positions and title positions, the sole authority to establish minimum qualifications for examination purposes, the authority to establish open-competitive and promotion eligible lists for a period of one to four years, the responsibility for keeping the official civil service records regarding an employee's employment history, civil service status and salary, the authority to approve temporary appointments, provisional appointments and transfers, the authority to administer the procedures of disciplinary actions and serve in an appellate capacity for disciplinary actions, the authority to administer layoff procedures and establish preferred eligible lists in the event of layoff and the authority to certify payrolls on at least an annual basis to ensure that persons on the payroll are properly employed in accordance with Civil Service Law and Rules.
I have concerns over the job classification I am currently in. What do I do?

The proper classification of positions in local government is the responsibility of the Municipal Civil Service Commission or Personnel Officer. The Commission or Personnel Officer has the sole authority, pursuant to State Civil Service Law and local Rules, to ensure the classification of positions are accurate and appropriate.You can request the Commission or Personnel Officer review the duties you are performing to ensure the classification is appropriate.
I would like to transfer from one County to another? What should
Transfers between positions in local government are governed by Civil Service Law and local Civil Service Rules. In general, in order to effectuate the transfer, the examination for the position held must have involved essential tests and qualifications the same as or greater than those of the position to which appointment is sought. You should contact the municipal civil service agency having jurisdiction over the agency you are seeking to transfer to for additional information on whether you are able to transfer.
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