Government jobs exist at three levels: federal, state, and local. Each level has various executive departments under it, each of which is tasked with administering some part of the government’s responsibilities. In essence, civil servants are administrators of government policies and the law.
This doesn’t necessarily mean civil servants are exclusively located in executive departments; civil servants also administer policies in legislative and judicial institutions. However, they don’t play a legislative nor judicial role (the legislature and judiciary are tasked with formulating and interpreting, respectively, laws and policies).
Given the litany of government responsibilities, civil services refer to an overwhelmingly large number of jobs. From public teachers to law enforcement officers, all are employed by governments and considered civil servants. Besides administering policies and laws, another unique feature of civil servants is how they’re selected. People applying for government jobs have to give a competitive exam for their preferred job.
The system didn’t begin like this, as the US initially had a spoils system (filling government jobs with relatives, friends, and supporters). This system was eventually reformed, beginning with the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883 and culminating with the Hatch Act of 1939. Since then, the civil services have remained a competitive employment area at the federal, state, and local level. If you’re preparing for an NYS Civil Service Exam, here are some tips to help you out.
The NYS Civil Service Exams
Before studying, you should know that there isn’t a single kind of NYS Civil Service exam. The exam’s content depends on the job you’re applying for, the municipality in which you’re applying, etc. Here are the different civil service exams in New York:
Police: To become a law enforcement officer, you need to sit for a written exam. Though there are some common subjects (such as law), the content of the exam is largely dependent on your municipality.
Firefighter: To become a firefighter, applicants need to give a written exam and often need to partake in a job simulation exam. The former tests an applicant’s situational awareness, ability to learn and apply information, reading skills, and arithmetic. The latter tests the examined skills, like poise, ability to act on information, and situational awareness, in a practical context.
Court: There are different civil service jobs in the court, such as clerks, officers, and law librarians. Applying for any of them requires sitting for a written exam.
Public Safety Officer: Public safety officers are employed by the City University of New York and are tasked with protecting students on campus. The associated exam tests an applicant’s ability to read maps, understand specific issues and situations, etc.
Environmental Conservation Officer: ECOs are tasked with protecting the environment and natural resources of the state. The ECO exam has written and reading sections and has specific parts testing memory and problem-solving.
MTA Bus Operator: People applying for the role of bus operator with the Metro Transit Authority need to give a written exam and a practical test. The tests assess an applicant’s spatial awareness and orientation, reasoning, reading comprehension, etc.
With the different kinds of NYS Civil Service Exams out of the way, here are some tips to help you out with your preparations:
Check If You Need to Give the Exam: This may come as a surprise, but not all NYS jobs require you to sit for a civil service exam. This is because while you may be working for the state, the state doesn’t pay nor employ everyone working for them. Essentially, if the state or a state department pays the job’s salary, you probably need to take a civil service exam. If a private employer pays the job’s salary, then you probably don’t. To confirm, check the vacancies section on StateJobsNY, and click on your preferred job for more information.
Check to See If You Qualify for the Exam: There are some prerequisites you need to meet before you can register for an NYS Civil Service Exam. The qualifications depend on the job you’re applying for, but generally, you’ll need either an appropriate amount of training or a bachelor’s degree. Besides those general requirements, there may be additional prerequisites specific to the job. If you don’t meet the requirements, direct your energies towards meeting them before you apply.
Apply for the Exam: If you need to take an exam and meet the requirements, apply for the exam before the final date. There’s no uniform exam date or fee, so you’ll need to check for your specific exam. If you’re unsure where to look, the NYS government website typically announces the dates and fees for different exams (alternatively, just click here). The exams are rolling and dependent on when a vacancy opens up.
Preparing for the Exam: Once registered, you can begin preparing for the exam. Typically, you want to register significantly in advance so that you have enough time to adequately prepare. The particular study method is going to vary with the content of the exam, which varies with different features, as mentioned above. Your exam score determines the probability of you getting your desired job.
Make sure you know what kinds of exams you’re going to have to take. Most are written, but oral exams and job simulations are also standard. Once you have the material, establish a study routine with adequate time for breaks. You should also productively use those breaks by eating healthy meals, stretching, going for a walk, etc. Lastly, and most importantly, you should remain consistent with your routine.
However, doing this on your own can be overwhelming. Even if you collect all the study material, make a great study routine, stay consistent, and give it your best, nothing’s guaranteed. The one thing missing is the guidance of an experienced hand, and that’s where we can help. At Civil Service Success, we provide prep classes for the civil services to help you pass a plethora of civil service exams. Whether you’re preparing for the firefighter exam in New York City, Suffolk County police exam, NYS court officer exam, or any other, we can help. Contact us now, and we’ll help you ace your civil service exam.