It takes a year, but it’s worth a lifetime!
We want you to work for the City of Los Angeles. However, the process involved in getting a City Job can be a bit confusing. This site exists to help explain the process and help make it easier to pursue a public service career.
Currently, there are three different types of city jobs; Civil Service, Exempt, and Contractor.
Civil Service Jobs (also called "regular" or "non-exempt") are the majority of jobs in the City. To get hired into one of these jobs: Take a test specific to that job, get a score, interview in structured panel interviews. Once you're hired, there's a lot more job security. If you're interested in checking out Regular opportunities, here's the list of current exams that are open.
Exempt Jobs are listed at the Personnel Department Site. Applying for them is as simple as submitting a resume. Be aware that they are often somewhat political. For example, if you work for a councilmember, when he loses an election, you're probably out of a job. But that wouldn't be the case with a "regular" job.)
Contractor Jobs are for IT Contract Professionals within the City. (Think DevOps, Database Administrator, Data Scientist among a few examples). The Information Technology Agency maintains a contract with 7 Professional Contract Firms. You have to contract them to apply for the jobs that are typically annual contract jobs. However, the process for getting hired as a contractor is much shorter than getting hired as regular/civil service employee.
This FAQ lists a bunch of common questions for folks applying for regular/civil service jobs.
- What happens after I submit my application?
Your application will be reviewed to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications. If so, you will be invited to take a civil service exam.
- What happens when I pass an exam?
Congrats on taking your first real step towards getting an LA City Job! Once you pass an exam, you will receive a score. When a department needs to hire a specific position (for example, Management Assistant), they will request a list from Personnel, and you will get a notification to call the department if you’re interested in applying for that specific job. The list is ranked by score, so the department will typically interview the top 6 (or so) applicants on the list.
- How do I find my class/career path/etc?
The Personal Department lists career ladders and classes on their website. Find a class that meets your interests and background. From there, set an alert on Government Jobs for the relevant class for the next opening.
- What Benefits does the City offer Regular Employees?
All full-time employees receive health insurance. For many positions, salaries are competitive with the private sector.
Employees receive two weeks of vacation each year. Workers Comp. Sick days.
Annual raises as well as cost-of-living adjustments. Transit bonuses. Pension.
The City is very generous when it comes to benefits, job stability is unmatched in the private sector, and you get to work on problems that matter.
- What are civil service exams?
They are tests that determine whether you meet the qualifications necessary to succeed in the role. The exams differ depending on the type of role you’re applying for (e.g. a Management Assistant exam differs from a Systems Analyst exam). They often include math and verbal skills, similar to an SAT.
If you would like to have a regular/civil service job, you must take an exam unless it is an emergency appointment.
- What are emergency appointments?
An “emergency appointment” means that it’s technically a civil service job, but no one could be found to fill it. (Maybe the list of test-takers has expired, maybe they’re looking for a special skill set). Since it’s an emergency appointment, you can apply in a normal way (send application, do interview, etc.) without taking a civil service exam. Emergency appointments usually last for one year. If you got hired, during that year, you would take the Public Relations civil service exam. Then, at the end of the year, City Planning would open the job to people everyone who took that exam, so you would interview to become a “regular” for that same job (and compete against a handful of other folks who took the exam). Hypothetically, you might not get it (for example, if you didn’t score well enough on the test, or if someone did better than you on the interview), and then you would be out of a job. But since you will be interviewing for a job that you’ve literally been doing for a year, you’ll probably get it.
- Do I have to study for exams? / How difficult are exams?
It varies from exam to exam. The specific expectations are outlined on the exam bulletins. In general, for entry-level exams, you don’t need to study, but it couldn’t hurt to brush up on your math skills.
- Why is this so complicated?
The civil service process was designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace. By providing standardized tests, the idea is that everyone (regardless of gender, age, race, etc.) would compete on equal footing. The other reason for the civil service was to make it harder to politicians to politicize government. A lot of the services government provides (cleaning streets, mailing mail) need to happen regardless of who’s in office.
- So, how much do you get paid?
Each class has its own pay scale. Generally, when you start in the class, you start at Step 1 (the lowest salary), then go up the scale after each successive year.
This is, with rare exception, non-negotiable. Additionally, DWP has a different pay scale than the City of LA, but the same class structure.
- Are there specific qualifications for an exam?
Yes, you can see the qualifications in the exam notices on governmentjobs.com. For example, some classes require a college degree – or even a degree in a specific subject area. Others don’t require one at all.
- How long will this take?
It depends on the position, on the class, how well you score on the exam, etc. It will take months. If you need a job RIGHT NOW, this is not the best route to get one. If you’re interested in potentially changing employers down the road, then you should definitely sign up for a test. Maybe a year? Hopefully less.
Still confused? Email us at WorkForLA@googlegroups.com and we'll do our best to get back to you.
- Keaton Boyle
- Leonard Hyman
- Hunter Owens
- Danny Prikaz
- Chelsea Ursaner
- Dana Vanderford