What is Civil Service?
The majority of the positions within the Department of Human Services are covered by the civil service merit system of employment, which requires job candidates to participate in competitive examinations in order to qualify for employment. The State Civil Service Commission (SCSC) is responsible for conducting examination programs for civil service positions when there is an anticipated hiring need.
Exploring Job Opportunities
Each month, the Commission publishes a "Summary of Civil Service Examinations," which lists examination programs that are open for testing to fill jobs in DHS and other state agencies. Some job titles are open continuously for testing, while others may only open for a window period each year or two. A copy of the "Summary of Civil Service Examinations" is available by accessing the SCSC website and selecting "Job Opportunities," or by obtaining a paper copy from any SCSC or agency recruitment office. For each open exam program, there is an exam announcement. Exam announcements can be obtained from the SCSC website or any SCSC office. Exam announcements provide information about the job duties, requirements, job opportunities, and testing.
Civil service employment opportunities are available for unskilled and skilled workers, high school graduates and college graduates with associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. In many cases, there are multiple ways to qualify for civil service job titles, such as experience, training or a combination of experience and training. For a complete listing of job titles by college degree, visit the SCSC website and select "Jobs for College Graduates." There are also listings of "Jobs for Skillful Hands" and "Jobs for High School Graduates."
How to Apply
Applicants interested in civil service positions must take the appropriate civil service exam in order to be considered for vacancies. To apply, applicants must complete a civil service application and any other materials pertinent to the specific job title. Your qualifications may not be reviewed until after you have taken the exam, so be certain you meet all of the requirements.
Applicants are encouraged to apply online by accessing the SCSC website and selecting "Apply for Jobs." You will be prompted to create a profile to use when applying for a civil service job title. Paper applications are also available, and should be mailed upon completion to the Harrisburg State Civil Service Commission at the address listed below. Profiles/applications are used by the Commission to determine whether you meet the minimum experience and training requirements for a given job title. The qualifying requirements must be met in order for your exam to be scored. Therefore, it is important that you tailor each application to address the qualifying requirements for the job title you wish to test for rather than submit the same profile/application for different job titles.
DHS oversees facilities and offices across the commonwealth. When submitting an application, only list counties where you will accept employment. If you are applying for job titles specific to certain types of facilities (for instance, a Registered Nurse job title used in state hospitals, state mental retardation centers, and youth development centers), ensure that you list counties where state hospitals, state mental retardation centers and/or youth development centers exist and where you would be willing to accept employment.
When applying for job titles within County Assistance Offices, keep in mind that many counties give preference to county residents when filling vacancies. Furthermore, please note that for most job titles, Pennsylvania residency is required at the time of application.
There are several types of civil service exams: written, performance, oral and an assessment of experience and training. If you apply for a job title that requires a written exam (administered on a computer at a designated testing site), you may select the location and date for your exam. If the job title for which you applied involves an assessment of experience and training, your application will be rated based on the information you report on your application supplement. Most applications that require an application supplement cannot be completed online. They should be mailed to the Harrisburg State Civil Service Commission with your general civil service application.
After you complete the exam and assuming you meet the minimum experience and training requirements, the SCSC will send you the results based upon your score. You will be placed on the civil service eligible list for that job title with all other candidates who participated in that exam in test score order. Your results will specify how many applicants scored higher than you, lower than you, and the same as you for each county in which you made yourself available to work. Judging from these figures, if you feel that you can increase your score and improve your standing on the list, you may choose to take the examination again. Most job titles require candidates to wait for a certain time period (for example, six months) before they can take the examination again. Your most recent score will be used.
As vacancies occur, civil service lists are used to contact candidates for interviews. The highest ranking available candidates are typically interviewed. The SCSC is a central referral center of qualified individuals: they do not interview candidates. Please keep in mind that when you take a civil service test, it is for a job title, not a specific vacancy. As vacancies occur, DHS and other state agencies may ask the commission for a list of eligible candidates who have made themselves available for the location of the position. The agency surveys the availability of candidates for the specific position and typically interviews the highest ranking available candidate. Once you are on the eligible list, your name may be referred to any state agency that requests an eligible list for that job title and location.
Each eligible list has a list life, typically one to three years. The list life is the amount of time you can be considered for a job title before it will be necessary for you to take the examination again.
Bidding on Vacancies
Only individuals who hold or formerly held appropriate state civil service status may bid on posted civil service vacancies. Everyone can be considered for civil service positions when their names appear on applicable civil service employment lists.
You may obtain examination announcements and other information on employment opportunities from the SCSC or from your nearest PA Job Center. Civil service information, procedures, Summaries of Examinations, and individual test announcements are also available online on the SCSC website.
To apply for a civil service job title, apply online at the SCSC website or submit a civil service application to the Harrisburg State Civil Service Commission at the following address:
Strawberry Square Complex
320 Market Street, P.O. Box 569
Harrisburg, PA 17108
Inquiries concerning regional positions may also be referred to one of the SCSC regional offices listed below; however, only send paper applications to the Harrisburg office. Sending applications to a regional office will delay the application and hiring process.
110 N. 8th Street, Suite 503
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2412
411 7th Ave., Room 410
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1925