Getting A State Job

In order to gain employment with the California Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice (DOJ), you must follow several steps, in accordance with the California State Civil Service process. These steps are as follows:

  1. Examination
  2. Becoming reachable on a list
  3. Locating a vacant position
  4. Participating in a hiring interview
  5. Passing Medical Examinations (if required)
  6. Pass a pre-employment drug test (if required)
  7. Pass a background clearance
  8. Complete probationary period

Each of these steps are explained in more detail below. Obtaining employment with DOJ through methods other than the examination process (e.g., transfers or reinstatements), may require steps not identified in this section.

  1. Take the examination – To enter state service you must first pass an open competitive examination. Your score on the exam will be ranked compared to how others did on the same exam. Permanent hires are made from the eligible lists created through the examination process (see Step 2). To participate in this process, follow these steps:
    • Exam Bulletins. Obtain an exam bulletin which specifies 1) how, where, and when to file for an exam for a particular classification, and 2) the minimum qualifications (requirements) you must meet to participate in the exam. If you wish to find out more about a particular classification, go to the State Personnel Board (SPB) website.

      Exam bulletins for some classifications used by DOJ are available from this website in the Examinations section. The DOJ maintains a listing of exam bulletins at its Personnel Office located at 1300 I Street, 7th Floor in Sacramento. Please note that not all classes are tested for by the DOJ and may be offered by other state departments, including the State Personnel Board. Information about all examinations and copies of exam bulletins are available from the State Personnel Board at 801 Capitol Mall in Sacramento or from the State Personnel Board website.

      To enter state service you must take an open exam, available to people outside of state civil service. A promotional exam is offered to current state employees only.

    • State applications are available online at If required by the exam bulletin, complete the application and send or take it in person to the appropriate location listed on the exam bulletin by the final filing date. If your application meets the minimum qualifications, an announcement that the application was accepted and notice of a test date will be sent to you. If your application is rejected based on a determination that you do not meet the minimum qualifications, you will be notified as well; after you have accrued additional experience or education, you may be eligible to apply for the exam at a later date.
    • Take the test. Civil service exams may include any of the following depending upon the classification: written tests, oral interviews, supplemental written exams, performance tests, or education and experience evaluations. In order to move forward in the process, you must successfully pass the exam enabling placement on an eligible list. Notification of your exam results will be mailed to you.
  2. Become "reachable" on an eligible list – Most exams create eligible lists with more successful candidates than are needed for immediate vacancies. State eligible lists are divided into ranks by score. All candidates achieving the same score are placed together in the same rank. For most classifications, only those candidates in the top three ranks are "reachable," i.e., may be considered for appointment or employment. However, if a rank is "cleared" (i.e., all candidates in the rank are either hired or no longer available for employment), the next lowest rank is then considered reachable, and candidates in that particular rank may be offered jobs.
  3. Locate a vacant position – Taking an exam and becoming reachable is only part of the employment process. To begin employment with the state you must be offered and placed into a particular position (job opening). There are several ways of finding out about openings that currently exist, including the following:
    • Contact letters – These letters are sent to those in reachable ranks for current vacancies. The contact letter is a standard form which lists information including the classification, location, and an address to respond to by a specific date. Please note that candidates in the same rank may not receive a contact letter for the same position. If there are several names in a particular rank, in some cases only a limited number will be contacted, with the names chosen randomly.

      If you decline or fail to reply to one contact letter, your name will be designated "inactive"for that eligible list. If you decline or do not respond to three contact letters, your name will be removed from the list.
    • WVPOS – Vacant Positions Database on the Web (WVPOS, often referred to as "vee-pos") is a service provided by the State Personnel Board. This WVPOS contains information on current vacancies such as classification, salary range, time base (e.g., full or part-time), tenure (e.g., permanent or limited term), location, final filing date, and a brief job description. You may apply for any position advertised in this database for which you have taken and passed the appropriate exam and are in a reachable rank. When applying, please include the name of the exam, the administering department, and your score.
    • Departmental Vacancy Listings – Available vacancies with DOJ can be accessed through this website in the Job Vacancies section. Copies of job announcements for vacant positions are also available from the DOJ Personnel Office located at 1300 I Street, 7th Floor in Sacramento.
    • Students may apply for "Student Assistant" or "Graduate Student Assistant" positions without taking an examination. You may search WVPOS for these positions. Information about internship opportunities may be obtained from the Internships section or from the State Personnel Board website.
  4. Participate in a hiring interview – Once you have applied for a job opening you may be offered an interview. The interview is designed to identify the best job/person match for that specific position. Please be aware that you may be asked to bring particular documents depending on the position, e.g., typing certificate. Unless you are offered and appointed to the position, your name remains on the eligible list to be considered for other vacancies.
  5. Passing medical examinations (if required) – It is the policy of the DOJ that each applicant have the physical ability to safely and effectively perform the essential functions of the position. To determine whether an applicant can perform the essential functions of a position, the Department will require physical and/or psychological testing for specific job classes (see below). This medical examination will be tailored to reflect any special characteristics of the position, such as the need for hearing specific sounds, heavy lifting , working in high places, etc. For all other job classes, the DOJ will ask you to verify that you can perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation. This will be done in writing, after a conditional job offer has been made.

    Classes requiring medical exam:
    • Aircraft pilot
    • Latent Print Analyst Series
    • Property Controller Series
    • Industrial Hygienist Series
    • Laboratory Assistant
    • Warehouse Worker
    • Laboratory Technician (Criminalistics)
    • Criminalist Series
    • Forensic Scientist Toxicologist Series
    • Security Officer Series
    • Special Agent Series
    • Questioned Documents Examiner Series
  6. Pass a pre-employment drug test (if required) – Specific classifications have been designated as positions requiring pre-employment drug screening due to the nature of the job, e.g., Special Agents, Security Officers, etc. This entails taking and successfully passing a drug test prior to commencing employment. If there is such a requirement, the exam bulletin will specify the nature of the drug test and consequences of failure.
  7. Pass a background clearance – The background clearance requires that all prospective employees applying for positions with the DOJ, must submit to a fingerprint clearance process. In addition to the fingerprint process, some positions within the department also require a more extensive background process due to the nature of the job.
  8. Completion of a probationary period – If you've made it this far, congratulations! Only one step remains before you become a permanent civil service employee: passing the probationary period. All newly appointed state employees complete a six (6) month or twelve (12) month probationary period, depending on the classification. During this time you will receive training related to your position, as well as regular evaluations describing how well you are performing your new job. Most employees successfully pass the probationary period and obtain permanent status. However, unsuccessful performance may lead to rejection during probation and failure to attain permanent status.

If you are interested in the Welfare to Work program, contact the local county welfare department listed under the County Government section of the telephone book. In Sacramento, contact the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance. Information may also be available through the Employment Development Department.

For more information about the examination and civil service process you may wish to visit the following Internet pages maintained by the State Personnel Board:

If you have any questions, please contact the:

DOJ Personnel Programs Office (916) 323-5580