A classification specification is the legal description of a classification or series classification, which has been adopted by the five-Member State Personnel Board (SPB). A classification specification includes the classification title; definition; typical tasks performed; minimum qualifications required, including licenses, education and experience; knowledge, skills and abilities; and special personal characteristics. Classification specifications identify and describe all the classifications of positions established in the classification plan. Each is an explicit statement written in a standardized form which identifies the essential characteristics which make the classification described different from other classifications in the plan.

Copies of classification specifications can be obtained on the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) website. A permanent file of specifications for abolished classifications is maintained by General Files for reference at SPB.

The classification specification is the most basic and essential tool in administering the classification plan. It services the following general purposes:

  1. Defines the boundaries of classifications and differentiates each classification from every other classification in terms of type of work, level of responsibility and qualifications required;
  2. Arranges classifications in related occupational groupings and logically progressive series;
  3. Provides a convenient written document, which identifies the basic characteristics of each classification for a variety of personnel management purposes.

The classification specification has a variety of uses including:

  1. Allocating positions to classifications.
  2. Establishing internal relationships for salary administration.
  3. Identifying recruitment sources.
  4. Reviewing examination applications.
  5. Determining the scope of examinations and identifying critical classification requirements for selection purposes.
  6. Making appropriate eligible list determinations.
  7. Determining status rights of incumbents in a classification when a new classification is created by dividing or combining existing classifications.
  8. Making transaction determinations such as transfer, demotion in lieu of layoff, voluntary demotion, and reinstatement.
  9. Identifying in-service training needs.
  10. Facilitating employee performance appraisal and career development programs.
  11. Obtain information from the classification specification to develop an Essential Function Duty Statement.
  12. Providing a source of information for the Legislature, departmental staff, employees, and the general public.

For further information on the standards, revisions and style, please refer to the Personnel Management Policy and Procedures Manual, section 101 administered by SPB, and the Classification and Pay (C&P) Guide, sections 170 and 171 administered by CalHR.


Responsible Control Agency

  • California Department of Human Resources
  • State Personnel Board

Laws and Regulations

  • Government Code section 18800-18807, 19818.6
  • SPB rule 172

Other Resource Materials

  • CalHR Policy Memos 2000-037, 2001-032, 2001-037
  • Classification and Pay Guide section 170-171
  • Classification Specifications
  • Personnel Management Policy and Procedures Manual section 100, 101


Classification and Pay Unit

Department of General Services
Office of Human Resources

707 3rd Street, 7th Floor
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Contact your assigned Classification and Pay Analyst.