California State Controller's seal

Payroll Specialist (7CO09)

Salary Range:


Type of Examination:


Bulletin Release Date:


Final Filing Date:

Continuous, the cut-off dates for this examination are March 30 and September 30.

Who May Apply:

Candidates who meet the minimum qualifications as stated below may apply for this examination. Once you have list eligibility, you may not reapply for twelve (12) months from your examination’s cut-off date. All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements as stated on this examination announcement. Candidates that are unsuccessful in the exam must wait six (6) months from the cut-off date before reapplying to take the exam.

Filing Instructions:

Applications (STD 678) must be postmarked or received no later than the final filing date. Applications postmarked, received via inter-office mail, or personally delivered after the final filing date will not be accepted. Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted. Applications postmarked after the cut-off date or received after 5:00 p.m. on the cut-off date will be held for the next administration of the examination. The examination title must be indicated on the application.

*File by Mail:
State Controller’s Office
HR – Examination Unit
P.O. Box 942850-5877
Sacramento, CA 94250-5877
Attn: Christiane van Eyken

*File in Person:
State Controller’s Office
HR – Examination Unit
300 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attn: Christiane van Eyken

*Candidates are responsible for obtaining proof of mailing or submission of their application to the Examination Unit.

Special Testing Arrangements:

If you have a disability and wish to participate in one of our testing services, programs, or activities and require a specific accommodation, please mark the appropriate box for Question #2 on the Examination Application form STD678. You will be contacted to make specific arrangements. TDD users may contact the California Relay Service TDD line at 1-800-735-2929, Voice Line at 1-800-735-2922.

Identification for Examination:

Accepted candidates are required to bring their Notice to Appear and either a photo identification card or two forms of signed identification to each phase of the examination.

Requirements for Admittance into the Examination:

All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements for this examination by the established cut-off date. Your signature on the application indicates that you read, understand, and possess the minimum qualifications required, and that the information provided is true and complete to the best of your knowledge.

All applications must include: “to” and “from” dates (month/day/year), time base, civil service or private sector titles, the duties performed, and an original signature. Applications received without this information will be rejected.

Note:  Qualifying experience may be combined on a proportionate basis if the requirements stated below include more than one pattern and are distinguished as “Either I,” “or II,” “or III,” etc. For example: Candidates, who possess qualifying experience amounting to 50% of the required time of Pattern I and additional experience amounting to 50% of the required time of Pattern II, may be admitted to an examination as meeting 100% of the overall experience requirements.

Minimum Qualifications:

Either I
One year of experience in the California state service performing office duties at a level of responsibility equivalent to an Office Assistant, Range B.

Two years of office experience. [Academic education above the twelfth grade may be substituted for one year of the required general experience on the basis of either (a) one year of general education being equivalent to three months of experience; or (b) one year of education of a business nature being equivalent to six months of experience.]

Click on the link below to review the CA State Personnel Board class specification that contains the requirements for admittance to the exam:

Examination Information:

It is anticipated that the Supplemental Application Questionnaire will be mailed approximately two months after the cut-off date.

This examination will consist of a Supplemental Application Questionnaire weighted 100%. In order to obtain a position on the eligible list, a minimum score of 70% must be attained.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis. Testing is considered continuous, as new examination dates may be set at any time as departmental needs warrant. Each new cut-off date will be publicized to ensure that applicants have adequate time to complete and submit an application.

Eligibility List Information:

A Departmental Open Non-Promotional spot eligible list will be established for the State Controller’s Office in Sacramento County. The names of successful competitors will be merged onto the list in order of final scores, regardless of date. Competitors’ eligibility will expire 12 months after it is established unless the needs of the service and conditions of the list warrant a change in this period. For a classification with a merged list, it is the competitor’s responsibility to reapply for and be successful in the examination in order to maintain eligibility after 12 months.

Position Statement:

This series specification describes three classifications that perform specialized payroll duties at the State Controller's Office. Classes that perform general office or personnel transactions work have been excluded.

Incumbents in these classes are distinguished from other classes by being regularly required to apply State civil service and CSU laws, and departmental, control agency, and campus rules and regulations, and bargaining unit provisions pertaining to a variety of payroll transactions. Payroll Specialist incumbents work with a variety of payroll plans, voluntary deduction programs, retirement plans, income tax withholding requirements, and disability insurance programs. The predominant duties of positions in these classes require a thorough and detailed knowledge of appropriate laws, rules, regulations, and contract language pertaining to payroll transactions. Positions in this series are located in the Payroll Operations Unit of the State Controller's Office.

Payroll Specialist is a multirange level class, spanning entry through advanced journey levels. Incumbents assigned to Range A perform the least difficult transactions duties. Based upon the appropriate alternate range criteria, incumbents advance to Ranges B, C, and D. Under close supervision at the entry level, and under general supervision at the journey and advanced levels, and in accordance with established procedures, incumbents are assigned progressively more complex and difficult transactions duties in a variety of payroll transactions areas. Experienced incumbents in this class may provide functional guidance to lower-level staff.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Knowledge of:

  1. Current office methods, procedures, and equipment in order to ensure the efficient operation of personnel/payroll services.
  2. Basic math principles in order to conduct personnel/payroll operations.
  3. Research techniques used in collecting, tabulating, evaluating and presenting information in order to perform personnel/payroll functions.
  4. The structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar, in order to communicate effectively.
  5. Personnel/payroll procedures in order to ensure that personnel/payroll actions are in compliance with departmental procedures and policies, and State and Federal laws and regulations.

Ability to:

  1. Independently interpret reference materials in order to comply with laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.
  2. Interpret and explain policies, procedures, rules and/or regulations to departmental employees, control agencies, and other State agencies in order to assist internal and external customers.
  3. Assist departments, campuses, and employees with technical matters and sensitive issues in order to resolve problems and concerns.
  4. Operate computer hardware and software in order to access and retrieve information, and produce personnel/payroll related transactions.
  5. Think logically in order to resolve personnel/payroll-related problems.
  6. Follow written directions in order to complete workload and assist internal and external customers.
  7. Follow verbal directions in order to complete workload and assist internal and external customers.
  8. Research various personnel/payroll matters in order to recommend effective, appropriate courses of action.
  9. Research critical transactions in order to resolve issues and recommend alternative solutions.
  10. Gather information in order identify and resolve transaction errors and other problems.
  11. Input data into tables, spreadsheets, and charts in order to provide information on personnel/payroll matters.
  12. Communicate clearly in order to exchange information on personnel/payroll matters both verbally and in writing.
  13. Establish cooperative working relations with those contacted during the course of the work in order to assist internal and external customers.
  14. Maintain cooperative working relations with those contacted during the course of the work in order to assist internal and external customers.
  15. Organize work in order to complete assignments thoroughly and efficiently.
  16. Prioritize work in order manage workload and comply with mandated deadlines.
  17. Draft and edit correspondence in order to share or clarify information, and assist internal or external customers.
  18. Analyze work processes and evaluate suggestions in order to develop effective courses of action.
  19. Coordinate a variety of personnel/payroll transactions in order to complete assigned workloads.
  20. Present ideas and recommendations in the course of work in order to complete assignments effectively and assist internal and external customers.

Special Personal Characteristics:


Additional Desirable Qualifications:


Veterans Preference:

Veterans’ Preference will be applied to those competitors who are successful in this examination and who qualify for, and have requested, Veterans’ Preference through the CA Department of Human Resources. Veterans who have achieved permanent civil service status are not eligible to receive Veterans’ Preference.

Career Credits:

Career Credits will be added to the final score of competitors who are successful in this examination.

Contact Information:

For more information regarding this examination, please contact the Examination Analyst Christiane van Eyken at 916-324-6401.

General Information:

For an examination without an advertised examination date, it is the candidate's responsibility to contact the State Controller's Office Examination Unit, (916-324-0811), three weeks after the final filing date if he/she has not received a progress notice.
If a candidate’s notice of examination fails to reach him/her 3 days prior to their scheduled examination date due to verified postal error, the candidate will be rescheduled upon written request.

Examination Locations: Examinations will be administered in locations deemed appropriate for the examination type and in accordance with the candidate pool and departmental resources. Examinations may not be administered in all areas. Candidates may be asked to travel to the nearest examination location at their own expense.

Applications are available at, CA Department of Human Resources (CalHR) offices, local offices of the Employment Development Department (EDD), and the State Controller's Office.

If you meet the requirements stated on this bulletin, you may take this examination, which is competitive. Possession of the entrance requirement does not assure a place on the eligible list. Your performance in this examination will be compared with the performance of the others who take this examination, and all candidates who pass will be ranked according to their scores.

Eligible Lists: Eligible lists established by competitive examination, regardless of date, must be used in the following order: 1) Sub-Divisional Promotional, 2) Departmental Promotional, 3) Multi-Departmental Promotional, 4) Servicewide Promotional, 5) Departmental Open, and 6) Open. When there are two lists of the same kind, the older list must be used first. Eligible lists will expire 12 months after established unless the needs of service and conditions of the list warrant a change in this period.

General Qualifications: Candidates must possess essential personal qualifications including integrity, initiative, dependability, good judgment, and ability to work cooperatively with others; and a state of health consistent with the ability to perform the assigned duties of the class. A medical examination may be required. In open examinations, investigation may be made of employment records and personal history and fingerprinting may be required.

Veterans’ Preference: Pursuant to Assembly Bill 372, Veterans’ Preference will be awarded as follows, starting January 1, 2014:

  1. Any veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran, who achieves a passing score in an open examination, shall be ranked in the top rank of the resulting eligibility list.
  2. Any veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released is not eligible for Veterans’ Preference.
  3. Veterans’ Preference is not granted once a person achieves permanent civil service status (Permanent State civil service status means the status of an employee who is lawfully retained in his/her position after completion of the applicable probationary period. This includes permanent intermittent, part-time, and full-time appointments. In addition, individuals who at any time achieved permanent State civil service status and subsequently resigned or were dismissed from State civil service are not eligible to receive Veterans’ Preference).

Veteran status is verified by the CA Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Directions to apply for Veterans’ Preference are on the Veterans’ Preference Application (CalHR Form 1093) which is available at or from the CA Department of Human Resources, 1515 S Street, North Building, Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95811 and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Career Credits: In Open Non-Promotional examinations, Career Credits are granted to:

  1. State employees with permanent civil service status,
  2. Full-time employees of the state who are exempt from State civil service pursuant to the provisions of Section 4 of Article VII of the California Constitution, and who meet all qualification requirement specified by the Board and have 12 consecutive months of service in an exempt position, and
  3. Individuals who have served one full year in, or are graduates of, the California Conservation Corps (eligibility shall expire 24 months after graduation from the California Conservation Corps).

Three points are added to the final test score of those candidates who meet the above criteria, and who are successful in the examination. Such examinations cannot be for managerial positions described in Government Code Section 3513. Competitors not currently employed in State civil service who have mandatory reinstatement rights may also be eligible for career credits, but they must explain their service status in the appropriate section of the application Form 100-678. (Section 4 of Article VII of the California Constitution is posted at the State Personnel Board, 801 Capitol Mall and Sacramento).

The State Controller’s Office reserves the right to revise the examination plan to better meet the needs of the service, if the circumstances under which this examination was planned change. Such revision will be in accordance with civil service laws and rules and all competitors will be notified.