Number:  III.3
Date Issued: Nov. 15, 1990
Date Revised:

PURPOSE: To define the content, use and format of the class specification. 

LEGAL BASIS: County Code Section 4.10.030; 3.16 - Class Specifications; 3.28.010 - Appointment Procedures Civil Service Rules 130.III.E. - Class Specifications 


  1. Defined:


    1. A class specification contains a formalized summary of the duties and responsibilities of the positions in a class, followed by examples of work performed and documentation of the minimum knowledge and ability requirements of the positions in the class.  Class specifications identify and describe the classes of positions established in a classification plan. Each is an explicit statement written in a standardized form designed to emphasize the essential facts which mark the class described as uniquely different from other classes in the plan.

    2. A class specification should be clear and understandable. The results of the analysis of positions should be so preserved and the differentiating factors among the classes should be so emphasized that the reader does not have to engage in a new analytical process to discover them or dig them out of a mass of purely descriptive phrases.


  2. Uses of the Class Specification:


    1. Serves as the basis for allocating positions.

    2. Provides a basis for recruiting and selection including recruiting sources, application review and test construction.

    3. Provides the basis for establishing the compensation program allowing for the comparison of external and internal data.

    4. Establishes the framework for performance appraisal and employee development programs.

    5. Provides a basis for determining changes in status such as transfer, demotion in lieu of layoff, voluntary demotion, and reinstatement.


  3. Content of the Class Specification:


    1. Title: The class title is descriptive, brief, appropriate to the level of work and is consistent with other titles in the classification plan.

    2. Definition:

      1. A brief, concise definition and over-all identification of the kind and level of work.

      2. Description of supervision received, and sometimes organization setting. Standard terminology used includes:

        1. Under close supervision - is used for entry level classes in which employee receives training.

        2. Under supervision - the positions in the classes are subject to continuous and direct control or fixed guidelines with little or no room for deviation in procedure. This level of supervision pertains to trainees.

        3. Under general supervision - the positions in such a class are subject to a minimum of continuous and direct control within defined procedural limits. The employees may or may not work within proximity to their supervisor. This level of supervision pertains to journey level and advanced journey level classes in a series.

        4. Under direction - indicates that supervision consists of general instructions regarding the scope of and approach to projects or assignments but procedures and techniques are left to the discretion of the employee; guidance is provided at the request of the employee and upon completion of assignments. The level is used with technical, supervisory and professional positions where the employees are expected to operate with a reasonable degree of independence.

        5. Under general direction - refers to classes at the division level which are responsible for specific functions or programs. The guidance is usually set forth in broad goals and general rules of the organization.

        6. Under administrative direction - refers to a class with broad top level administrative responsibility in which guidance is received in terms and goals and reviewed in terms of results. This category is reserved for Department Head level positions.


      3. An indication of whether duties described are found in all positions of the class or found only in some.

      4. Includes the statement "and to do other work as required", to emphasize the fact that the specification are generally descriptive, not restrictive, and do not cover the details of all positions assigned to the class.

    3. Distinguishing Characteristics:


      1. Clearly characterizes different levels in a series or related classes in terms of job elements or allocation factors.

      2. Defines boundaries of the class including areas of accountability and responsibility.

      3. Describes any special training, location or working conditions such as 7 days per week, 24 hours per day locked facility or on-call requirements.

    4. Typical Tasks:


      1. Task listed reflect the nature, difficulty and responsibility of the work. Tasks listed amplify, expand and illustrate the definition of the class.

      2. The list is descriptive but not limiting.

      3. The tasks are listed in order of importance. Occasionally tasks are listed in the order of the work process. Class specifications developed prior to 1980 will often contain the order of work.

      4. All duties of the class are not reflected in the task listing.

      5. Not every position allocated to a class will perform all tasks listed in the class specification.

    5. Employment Standards:


      1. The Employment Standards reflect the minimum qualifications for entry into the class. Minimum qualifications are directly related to the typical tasks. All qualifications listed must be related to tasks unless State law mandates the requirement.

      2. Minimum qualifications are stated in terms of job related knowledges and abilities which are directly related to the typical tasks.

      3. Statements are in keeping with good personnel practices, court decisions, and EEOC, DFEH, and U.S. Civil Service Commission guidelines.

      4. Job related employment standards are necessary to:

        1. predict high job performance more accurately

        2. assure quality in the selection process

        3. assure that there are no artificial barriers which prevent the hiring of qualified applicants.

      5. All requirements will be the minimum for entry into the class and apply to all positions in that class unless:

        1. Positions in the class differ in one or more duties necessitating the use of a qualification statement- "...may be required for some positions", 


        2. the class includes assignments in several sub-specialties. In these cases, duties are included in each specialty and then the Minimum Qualifications are identified for each significantly different specialty as a "Selective Certification" option.

      6. Subsections of Employment Standards:

        1. Knowledges and Abilities:

          1. This is the most important section of the minimum qualifications. Special care is taken to insure that the knowledges and abilities are related to the tasks. In all cases the appropriate knowledges are developed before the other requirements so that the other requirements can be directly related to them.

          2. Statements are included for all significant knowledges and abilities but statements such as "ability to work under supervision" that are required in virtually all working situations are not included in the class specification.

          3. Knowledge and ability requirements satisfactorily describe the type of background needed for many classes without also using an education or experience requirement. However, some classes require that job related education and experience be stated to satisfactorily indicate the needed level of expertise.

          4. Knowledges and abilities are ranked in order of importance. Information easily and quickly acquired (guideline: within the first six weeks of employment) is omitted.

          5. Knowledges are the range of information or understanding of a subject or a variety of subjects necessary to successfully perform the work at the time of appointment to the position. Knowledges are viewed as the combined result of formal education, training and/or experience. Knowledge requirements are prefixed by a standard modifier to indicate relative level:

            1. Some knowledge:

              1. Sufficient familiarity with the subject to know elementary principles and terminology and to understand and solve simple problems.

              2. Knowledges at this level can be acquired through study or work experience.

              3. Knowledges at this level are NOT used for application screening criteria for establishing applicant's minimum qualifications.

              4. Knowledges at this level are sometimes tested in the pre-employment testing process.

            2. Working knowledge:

              1. Sufficient knowledge of a field to perform most work as assigned with little direct supervision. It means that the work calls for comprehension of standard work situations and should include knowledge of most significant aspects of the subject.

              2. Knowledges at this level can be acquired through formal educational programs that include internships, work study, etc., or actual work experience.

              3. Knowledges at this level are evaluated for application screening purposes.

              4. Knowledges at this level are tested in the pre-employment testing process.

            3. Thorough knowledge:

              1. Wide coverage of the subject matter area. It means that the work calls for comprehension of the subject matter to solve unusual as well as commonplace work problems, to advise on technical and policy questions and to plan work programs.

              2. Knowledges at this level indicate an "in house expert" and are acquired through formal courses of study PLUS work experience OR extensive work experience.

              3. Knowledges at this level are evaluated for application screening purposes.

              4. Knowledges at this level are tested in the pre-employment testing process.

          6. Abilities are NOT used for application screening purposes but MAY be tested in the pre-employment testing process.

          7. Abilities are generally measured during the probationary period after appointment to the position.

          8. Ability statements include PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS e.g. "perform manual labor which entails frequent lifting and carrying of heavy or bulky items in excess of  75 pounds".

        2. Training and Experience:

          1. The statement "Any combination of training and experience which would provide the required knowledges and abilities is qualifying" is used for all classes.

          2. The statement "A typical way to obtain these knowledges and abilities would be:" is used for all classes followed by one or more typical ways of obtaining the knowledges and abilities.

          3. The overriding master qualifier is demonstrated possession of the knowledges and abilities.

          4. Training Guidelines:

            1. General education achievement (high school graduation, college degree) are not used unless mandated by law or other authority.

            2. If a degree or other level of education is determined to be job related, other alternatives (i.e. experience) are also listed.

            3. Since maturity, intelligence, tenacity, learning ability, and other personal qualities are neither guaranteed to all college graduates nor the exclusive possession of college graduates, these qualities will not be accepted as job relevant reasons for requiring a degree.

            4. Specific college courses that directly relate to a knowledge may be required as one option for appropriate (i.e. trainee/entry) classes.

            5. Standard phrases used in describing coursework are:

              1. "core coursework in the following areas:" - list specific disciplines

              2. "or closely related discipline" - if other disciplines are appropriate but an all inclusive list is not needed.

              3. "coursework as follows:" - list specific titles of courses.

          5. Experience Guidelines:

            1. When experience requirements are used, consideration is given to using descriptive modifiers of the length or level of experience that are more flexible rather than specific lengths which can tend to be arbitrary.  However, experience requirements with specific lengths are appropriate to establish progression requirements within an occupational series (especially in administrative, professional or technical classes).

            2. The experience statements are related back to the knowledges and abilities already identified and are broadly stated.
    6. Special Requirements:

      1. The special requirement section states the specific licenses, certificates, credentials, professional memberships, performance requirements, probationary period, background check requirements, and pre-employment medical requirements.  These requirements must be met by an incumbent in the position and are not optional unless stated.

        1. Licenses, Certificate, Credentials Membership in Professional Organization:

          1. This qualification is used when required by law or other authorities.

          2. The requirements for obtaining the license or certificate are NOT listed in the class specification.

          3. Knowledges and abilities guaranteed by possession of the license are NOT listed if a license is required.

          4. In some cases a license is listed as an alternative to education or experience even when the license is not a legal requirement. In these cases a reasonable alternative to the license is also listed.

          5. Membership in Professional Organizations is limited to Membership in the California State Bar.

        2. Performance Requirements:

          1. A list of performance requirements, directly related to tasks and abilities e.g. "type at a corrected rate of 45 WPM from clear copy or pass an equivalent performance test".

        3. Probationary Requirements:

          1. A probationary period equivalent to six months as required by Civil Service Rule VI.E.1. is presumed and is not noted in the class specification.

          2. A probationary period equivalent to 12 months may be approved for a class by the Civil Service Commission and will be noted under the Special Qualifications section of the class specification.

          3. A 12 month probationary period requirement must be job related and based on the scope of the duties and responsibilities of the class.

        4. Background Investigation Requirements:

          1. Civil Service Rules 130.V.M. - Investigations-provides for the establishment of rules and procedures for investigating and verifying the applicant's training, experience, character, and fitness.
          2. Refer to Personnel Administrative Policy IV.8. Background Investigations for criteria to require a background investigation for a class.
          3. Background Investigations Requirements will be stated on the class specification where:
            1. it is required of all positions in the class.
            2. it is required of some positions in the class.
          4. Types of Background Investigations are
            1. Fingerprint and records check
            2. Partial Background Investigations (applies to criminal justice employees)
            3. Full Background Investigation (peace officers)
          5. Authority for Background Investigations:
            1. By class due to state law
            2. By department due to state law - general classes
            3. Pre-employment Medical Requirements:
              1. Civil Service Rules 130.IV - Standards and Qualifications of Employment - provides for establishment standards of physical abilities necessary to perform the duties of the position.
              2. Physical ability requirements of a position/class are determined through medical standards job analysis. (See Personnel Procedure on Establishing Medical Standards).
              3. Physical abilities are determined through a pre-employment medical exam. The type of exam is documented in the class specification and is cross referenced to the Personnel Procedure on Pre-employment Medical Exam Requirements.

    7. Other Information: 

      1. Class code: A 3 digit code which uniquely identifies the job class. 

        1. The 1st 2 digits are alpha characters and generally refer to the class series, although there has been some non-standard assignment of those letters.
        2. Beginning in January of 1990 an attempt is being made to follow this coding schematic. The last digit is numeric and generally refers to the level of the class although there has been some non-standard assignment of those numbers. Beginning in January of 1991, these codes will be reviewed for standardization. 

          01 Entry/Trainee 
          02 Journey 
          03 Advanced Journey 
          04 Leadworker 
          05 Complex Assignment
          06 1st Level Supervisor 
          07 Full Supervisor 
          08 Management 
          09 Administration 

      2. Analyst: Initials of the analyst creating the specification first and the initials of the analyst revising the specification 2nd (e.g. JD/CE) 

      3. Date Originated: The date that the class was first established if known. 

      4. Date Revised: The date the class was last revised.

      5. Bargaining Unit: a grouping of classes represented by a union or association for purposes of contract negotiation on working conditions. This is reflected in the first digit of the Benefit Status code. The 2nd digit of the code represents the benefit structure for the class/position. All benefit status options are listed on the specification. The chart that follows lists codes in effect 7/1/90. 

        01  Board of Supervisors members AA1 AA4 
        02  Elected department heads CG9 DB9 JH9 UA9 UE9 
        Benefit Status Code 11/90
        03  Elected department heads, Safety RG9 
        04  Appointed department heads AC8 CB7 EE9 GE9 GV9 JF9 PT8 SP8 SX9 TG9 TS9 UP9 UT9 VB9 VG9WA9 
        05  Other executive Mgt, mgt trainees Autoload: UR3 VE4 UY1 cash overtime only 
        06  Assistant department heads* CB6 CG9 EE5 GC7 GD8 JF7 JH7 PJ9 PR8 PR9 PT7 SP6 TS7 UA7 UE7 UT7 UV7 VB7 
        07  Assistant dept head, Safety* RG5 
        08  Other executive management* SP2 SP4 SP7 TK9 UR5 UR7 UT4 UT5 UT6 UX1 VA9 VE6 VE8 VF2 VG7 VG8 UY3 UX2 
        09  Other executive Mgt*, no overtime JD1 JD3 JD5 JD7 * eligible for compensatory time 
        11  Eligible for compensatory (all others not listed)
        12  Not eligible for comp time/overtime JC8 JC9 
        13  Eligible-straight time overtime only PT5 PT6 
        14  Management trainee-cash overtime only Auto load: US1 
        21  5 day/8 hr work/vacation/holiday sched, Autoload: RG3 Safety members, Sheriff's Office 
        21  22 4 day/10 hr work/vacation/holiday sched May also apply to RG3 Safety members, Sheriff's Office 
        26  Other employees, Safety members RH8 
        31  5 day/8 hr work/vacation/holiday sched, Autoload: RH5 RH7 Safety members May apply to RE5 RE7 32 4 day/10 hr work/vacation/holiday sched Autoload: RE5 RE7 Safety members 
        33  33 7 day/12 hr work/vacation/holiday sched May apply to RE7 
        34  5 day/8 hr work/vacation/holiday sched Autoload: RE3 Miscellaneous Members
        41  Not in other B/S category for this unit May apply to CY2 CY4 CY6 
        42  Communications Dispatchers assigned to Autoload: CY2 CY4 CY6 4 day/10 hr schedule 
        42  Communications Dispatchers assigned to Autoload: CY2 CY4 CY6 4 day/10 hr schedule 
        43  All paid time counts towards overtime MR1 MR3 MR5 MR7 MR9 MS7 
        44  9/80 schedule MU3 MU5 MU7 MU9 MV4 MW5 All paid time counts towards overtime 
        47  Same as 41 except on 9/80 schedule ME1 ME2 ME4 MF5 CY7 MK3 MK7 MN1 MN3 MN7 MP5 
        51  5 day/80 hr work/vacation/holiday sched May apply to RC6 RC8 52 7 day/12 hr work/vacation/holiday sched Autoload: RC6 RC8 
        61  Not eligible for overtime/comp time JD2 JD4 JD6 JD8 
        90-99 OTHERS 
        91  Superior & Municipal Ct Judges(elected) AB3 AB5 
        92  Visiting Judges XX1 93 Commissioners (paid) XX2 XX3 XX4 XX5 
        97  Extra-help with FICA RG3 RG5 RH5 RH7 RE5 RE7 position # 999 
        98 Extra-help with FICA Autoload: position# (999) 

      6. Occupational Grouping: a grouping of classes and series of classes represented by a 2 digit code: 

        1. that are sufficiently similar in respect to a broad definition of the same kind of work e.g. engineering, clerical; that require similar types of training; and that require similar types of experience. 
        2. The occupational groupings are reported in the Classification Schematic Listing that is produced on a quarterly basis. The listing presents all class titles and associates them with an occupational grouping. The chart that follows defines the groupings.

        OCCUPATIONAL GROUPINGS (As of 7/90) 
        01  General Clerical 
        02  Typing Clerical 
        03  Data Entry Operator 
        06  Secretarial
        07  Misc. Clerical Specialist 
        08  Municipal Court Clerical 
        09  Superior Court Clerical 
        10  Accounting Clerical 
        12  Storekeeping 
        15  Reproduction 
        16  Court Reporters 
        18  Radio Dispatching 
        20  Tax Appraisal 21 Real Property Agent 
        24  Engineering - Professional 
        25   Engineering - Technical 
        26   Custodial 
        27  Food Service
         28  Planning
        30    Recreation 
         32  Legal 
        35  Grounds and Park Maintenance 
        35  Grounds and Park Maintenance 
        36  Building Maintenance
        37  Automotive Maintenance 
        38   Heavy Equipment Maintenance 
        39  Sanitation Operations
        41  Public Works Maintenance
        42  Communications Technicians
         44  Human Services Aides
        45  Lab Technicians and Aides
        46  Public Health Microbiologists
        47   X-Ray Technicians
        48  Health Education 
        49  Pharmacy
        50  Mental Health Clinicians
        55  Licensed Vocational Nursing
        56  Detention Registered Nursing
        57  Public Health Nursing
        58  Clinic Registered Nursing
        59  Occupational Therapy
        59  Occupational Therapy
        60  Therapists - Physically Handicapped 
        60  61 Physicians
        62  Law Enforcement and Related 
        64  Eligibility Work
         65  Social Work
        66  Social Work Practitioners
        67  Veteran Services
        68  Probation Services
        69  Juvenile Supervision
        70  Psychological Services

        Weights and Measures


        Agricultural Inspection 

        74  Public Health Sanitation 
        75  Water Pollution Inspection
        76  Building Inspection
        77  Civil Defense
         78  Fire Protection 
        80  Accounting
        81  Audit
        82  Audit Appraisal
        83  Data Processing Operations
        84  Data Processing Systems and Programming
        85  Admin Analysis and Dept Admin Specialists
        86  Purchasing
        87  Personnel Management 
        88  Student Worker
        90  Other Temporary 
        91  Admin Support Services - General 
        98  Reserved
        99  Elected


      7. EEOC Job Category: 

        Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission definitions of occupational data for the purposes of reporting workforce composition of race/sex data is represented by a 2 digit numeric code. 

        01 Officials and Administrators:

        Occupations in which employees set broad policies, exercise overall responsibility for execution of these policies, or direct individual departments or special phases of the agency's operations, or provide specialized consultation on a regional, district or area basis. Includes: department heads, bureau chiefs, division chiefs, directors, deputy directors, controllers, wardens, superintendents, sheriffs, police and fire chiefs and inspectors, examiners (bank, hearing, motor vehicle, warehouse), inspectors (construction, building, safety, rent-and- housing, fire, A.B.C. Board, license, dairy, livestock, transportation), assessors, tax appraisers and investi- gators, coroners, farm managers, and kindred workers. 

        02 Professionals:

        Occupations which require specialized and theoretical knowledge which is usually acquired through college training or through work experience and other training which provides comparable knowledge. Includes: Personnel and labor relations workers, so- cial workers, doctors, psychologists, registered nurs- es, economists, dieticians, lawyers, system analysts, accountants, engineers employment and vocational reha- bilitation counselors, teachers or instructors, police and fire captains and lieutenants, librarians, manage- ment analysts, airplane pilots and navigators, and kindred workers. 

        03 Technicians:

        Occupations which require a combination of basic scientific or technical knowledge and manual skill which can be obtained through specialized post- secondary school education or through equivalent on- the-job training. Includes: computer programmers, drafters, surveyors, licensed practical nurses, photog- raphers, radio operators, technical illustrators, high- way technicians, technicians (medical, dental, elec- tronic, physical sciences), police and fire sergeants, inspectors (production or processing inspectors, test- ers and weighers), and kindred workers.

        04 Protective Service Workers:

        Occupations in which workers are entrusted with public safety, security and protection from destructive forces. Includes: police patrol officers, fire fighters, guards, deputy sher- iffs, bailiffs, correctional officers, detectives, marshals, harbor patrol officers, game and fish wardens, park rangers (except maintenance), and kindred workers. 

        05 Paraprofessionals: 

        Occupations in which workers per- form some of the duties of a professional or technician in a supportive role, which usually require less formal training and/or experience normally required for pro- fessional or technical status. Such positions may fall within an identified pattern of staff development and promotion under a "New Careers" concept. Included: research assistants, medical aids, child support work- ers, police auxiliary, welfare service aids, recreation assistants, homemakers aides, home health aides, li- brary assistants and clerks, ambulance drivers and attendants, and kindred workers. 

        06 Administrative Support (Including Clerical and Sales):

        Occupations in which workers are responsible for inter- nal and external communication, recording and retrieval of data and/or information and other paperwork required in an office. Includes bookkeepers, messengers, clerk-typists, stenographers, court transcribers, hear- ing reporters, statistical clerks, dispatchers, license distributors, payroll clerks, office machine and com- puter operators, telephone operators, legal assistants, sales workers, cashiers, toll collectors, and kindred workers. 

        07 Skilled Craft Workers:

        Occupations in which workers perform jobs which require special manual skill and a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the processes involved in the work which is acquired through on-the- job training and experience or through apprenticeship or other formal training programs. Includes: mechanics and repairers, electricians, heavy equipment operators, stationary engineers, skilled machining occupations, carpenters, compositors and typesetters, power plant operators, water and sewage treatment plant operators, and kindred workers. 

        08 Service-Maintenance:

        Occupations in which workers perform duties which result in or contribute to the comfort, convenience, hygiene or safety of the general public or which contribute to the upkeep and care of buildings, facilities or grounds of public property. Workers in this group may operate machinery. Includes: chauffeurs, laundry and dry cleaning operatives, truck drivers, bus drivers, garage laborers, custodial em- ployees, gardeners and groundkeepers, refuse collec- tors, construction laborers, park rangers (mainte- nance), farm workers (except managers), craft appren- tices/trainees/helpers, and kindred workers.

      8. Worker's Compensation Manual Rate Code: A 4 digit code that identifies the job class for Worker's Compensation rating categories. Ratings of job element exposures affect the rates charged departments in the exposure element of the Worker's Compensation rate allocation. (Note: codes used in the payroll system reflect actural percentages for computa- tion purposes.) 


      7720  Sheriff* 
      8810  Clerical and Office 
      9043  Health Svcs Agency specific 
      9410  Field Personnel 
      9420  Manual - Non-roads 
      9422  Roads 
      * Deputy staff, Rehabilitation Officers, DA Inspector series 

    8. Format of the Class Specification:


(Brief, appropriate to the level of work) 

Class Code:                                                                                                                         Date Originated: 
Analyst:                                                                                                                                 Date Revised: 



Brief, concise definition of KIND and LEVEL of work. Indicate supervision received. Close with "and to do other work as required." 


Differentiate levels - allocation factors for the class. Compare the class above and below in the series. Indicate special training, loca- tion or working conditions. 


(Listed in order of importance) 


Knowledges (Listed in order of importance - Thorough knowledge of ..., Working knowledge of ..., Some knowledge of ....) Abilities (Listed in order of importance. Include Physical Requirements which will require performance testing.) Training and Experience "Any combination of training and experience which would provide the required knowledges and abilities is qualifying. A typical way to obtain these knowledges and abilities would be".................... 


(Licenses, certificates, credentials or membership in professional organizations; performance requirements; 12 month probationary re- quirement where appropriate; background investigation requirements; pre-employment medical requirements) 

Bargaining Unit: EEOC 
Job Category: 
Occupational Grouping: 
Worker's Comp Code: I