In New York State, competitive civil service examinations provide a mechanism to ensure that appointments to local public service jobs are based on merit and fitness. Typically, individuals interested in public service employment must demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the duties of a position by taking a civil service examination.

Examinations for positions in State government are separate from examinations for positions in local government. Details on opportunities for employment in State agencies can be found here.

The Department of Civil Service provides examination services to more than 90 local civil service agencies across the State. Most information about examinations for positions in local government can be found by contacting the respective local civil service agencies directly.

There are many civil service jobs in local government that do not require a competitive civil service examination. Positions that do not require civil service examinations prior to appointment are found in the non-competitive class, labor class, exempt class or the unclassified service. To find out about job opportunities in these positions, contact your local civil service agency.

The examination for Director of Facilities positions in local school districts is a hybrid examination program that involves both State and local government responsibilities. Information regarding the Director of Facilities examination process can be found here.

Local Civil Service Administration  

Appointments and promotions in all civil divisions of the State shall be made according to merit and fitness, including counties, towns, villages, school districts, special districts and cities. The Department of Civil Service does not administer civil service for local governments. There are over 90 local Civil Service Commissions/Personnel Officers who are responsible for administering the merit system in local government as provided for in Section 17 of the Civil Service Law.

Each county is responsible for administering civil service for the county and all civil divisions within the county, including towns, villages, school districts, BOCES, special districts and cities. Some cities and suburban towns also administer civil service for their local government. The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services is the entity responsible of civil service administration for the City of New York.

Local Civil Service Commissions in the State perform legislative, executive and judicial functions:

Decisions made by local civil service agencies may not be appealed to the State Department of Civil Service or State Civil Service Commission.

The following outlines some of the statutory duties of a municipal civil service commission, with citations to the sections of the Civil Service Law which apply. Each municipal civil service commission shall:

For a better understanding of how civil service is administered at a local level, including the responsibilities of hiring authorities and the roles of local civil service agencies, please review the following three presentations. These presentations are designed to help local employers understand how civil service works.

The information in these presentations is for advisory purposes only, and is accurate as of October 11, 2022. Any changes in the Law subsequent to that date are not reflected in these presentations.

Each local civil service agency also adopts civil service rules to help them follow the requirements of the Civil Service Law. To view a copy of a local civil service agency's rules, contact the local civil service agency.

Workers with Disabilities Program (Civil Service Law Section 55-a) 

Section 55-a of Civil Service Law provides for the employment of persons with disabilities by municipalities.

Local Government Examinations (Administered by Local Civil Service Agencies) 

Examinations are generally given by local civil service agencies for specific job titles under their jurisdiction and include a multiple-choice test. They are offered based on the duties to be performed by individuals in the titles for which the examinations are announced. Every examination has minimum qualifications that must be met and may also have residency requirements to participate in it. Minimum qualifications and the subjects of examinations for the same or similar titles may vary from one civil service agency to another based on individual program needs. Most civil service agencies charge an application fee to participate in an examination. Information regarding deadlines, requirements and fees for taking an examination will be found on the examination announcement.

Please note that the application and examination process may vary for positions in local government and for positions in State government. You are encouraged to keep a record of examination numbers, examination announcements, position titles and the agency you applied to so that you can contact the appropriate agency if you have additional questions.

You can find out about examinations being offered and where examination announcements are posted by contacting the civil service agency for the locality in which you are interested in being employed. You can also watch for postings of examination announcements in your local library or other public locations. Examination announcements provide information on the title, minimum qualifications, typical job duties and the type and subjects of the examination that will be given.

Most local civil service examinations outside of New York City are prepared by the Department of Civil Service.

For frequently asked questions regarding examination related information, visit the FAQs page.

Medical & Physical Fitness Standards for Local Law Enforcement Officers  

Examinations for employment as a law enforcement officer employed by a county, city, town, or village are administered by local civil service agencies.

In addition to passing the local civil service examination, employment in these positions is conditioned upon meeting the medical and physical fitness standards established by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Those standards (accurate as of 11/2/22022) may be found here.

Any questions about these regulations should be directed to the DCJS Office of Public Safety(External Link).

Online Examinations for Local Government Positions 

Some training and experience examinations for local government positions such as Correction Officer, Librarian, Network Specialist, Athletic Trainer, and others, can be completed online as directed by the local civil service agency holding the examination.

Contact a Local Civil Service Agency 

Nearly all questions regarding examinations for positions in local government, (e.g., examination schedules, announcements, test scores, computational reviews, appeals for disqualification, and issues with online training and experience examinations), can be answered directly by contacting the local civil service agency with jurisdiction over that position.


State Civil Service

Civil Service Publications

Civil Service Examination & Appointments

Resources Across the State