If you're new to employment with the State of California, you'll need to get familiar with the application process outlined below. CalRecycle is part of the merit-based California civil service selection system, which ensures that the state hires and promotes people based on job-related qualifications. Before you can apply for a state job, you need to take and pass an examination/assessment for the job type ("classification") of that job to establish eligibility. Once a person successfully establishes eligibility for the specific classification, they may apply for any advertised job vacancy in that classification.

Getting Started

We recommend that you start by reviewing the three basic steps on the CalHR website: Search, Assessment, and Apply. The site also directs you to create a CalCareer account, which lets you manage all your job applications and view your exam results in one place, as well as receive alerts for job postings.

Understanding Classifications

The next step is determining what classifications you are interested in. CalRecycle has positions in a wide variety of classifications. Much of the programmatic work is done by "Environmental Scientists" and "Recycling Specialists," as well as engineers and research analysts. There are also large numbers of positions in administrative and support areas including personnel, accounting, information technology, auditing, legal, public affairs, analytical, clerical, and more.

Review the current CalRecycle job openings to determine what classifications are being sought. You can also review the job descriptions (also known as class specifications) to learn more about minimum qualifications and typical tasks.

Finding and Taking Exams

Once you know what classification(s) you are interested in, you can search for exams. An exam is essentially an assessment of your level of experience and education in areas related to a specific classification. A good strategy is to look at available jobs that interest you and take any relevant exams that you qualify for so you'll be ready when positions open up.

1. Search for an exam. Most of the exams are statewide, but some are specific to certain departments. CalRecycle uses the statewide exams for the majority of its hiring, but CalRecycle-specific exams are also included in the search results.

2. Apply and prepare for the exam. Read the Examination Bulletin carefully. It provides all the details you need to prepare and apply for the exam. Make sure you meet the minimum qualifications, get familiar with the classification specifications (linked in the bulletin), and read the information about how to prepare for the exam.

The bulletin also tells you what kind of examination it is--statewide or departmental, open or promotional, in-person or online, what kind of assessment it is (e.g., written test, training and experience evaluation, etc.), and if there are any special requirements (e.g., drug test, typing test, certifications). For Internet exams, there is typically a link to a preview showing you the kinds of questions that will be on the exam.

Open vs Promotional. If you're not already a state employee, you may only apply for "open" exams. If you're a current or former state employee, or veteran, you may apply for open or promotional exams.

Online vs In Person. Many exams are offered online, while others are given in person. There are some advantages to online exams, if available:

  • Online exams can be taken any time, and you don't have to complete the entire exam in one sitting.
  • Online exam results are available within 3 days, while in-person exam results take longer to receive.
  • You may retake online exams, though there is a waiting period. The same applies to in-person exams, however you would have to wait for another one to be offered.

3. Take the exam and review your results. Successful exam candidates are divided into ranks by score. Your exam results letter will tell you your score and/or rank. Only candidates in the top three ranks are immediately eligible for appointment. However, if you are interested in a position and are not in the top three, apply anyway! If others in higher ranks are not interested, you may move up to a higher rank.

Finding and Applying for Jobs

Once you're on an employment list, you may start receiving letters from CalRecycle and other state agencies inviting you to apply for openings. However, you can apply for any job in that classification--you do not need to receive a letter.

All CalRecycle civil service job openings are listed on the California State Jobs (jobs.ca.gov) site under "Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery." Follow the instructions in the Job Opportunity Bulletin to apply. Be sure to review the information about how to apply and reivew the duty statement and classification specifications that are linked.


CalHR has a variety of resources and tools to help you with your job search and the process.