Civil Service FAQs

If you are interested in applying for a civil service exam or applying for employment with Niagara County please go to the online Employment Portal.  For assistance in completing your application, you may also refer to the document Important Examination Information for Candidates.


What is Civil Service?
Most jobs in local government fall under the Civil Service System. A "Civil Service" employee can be anyone from a deputy sheriff, secretary, registered nurse, mechanic, a nurse's aide, attorney, accountant, laborer, food service worker, etc. Different jobs have different requirements.
Is there a residency requirement?
Most positions/tests have a one (1) month Niagara County residency requirement. Certain positions require that you be a resident of the municipality where the position is located. All residency requirements are noted on the examination announcement.
Do I have to take a test?
Some positions require that you take a test to be considered for a permanent job. These are called competitive positions. For competitive positions when there is no list of tested applicants, a person may be appointed "provisionally" (temporarily) until the results of the next test are established. The provisional employee must score high enough to be permanently appointed or else be removed from the job.
What positions do not require a test?
There are three types of positions that have no test requirements. Exempt positions are those where the employer decides the qualifications of applicants and chooses the person s/he wants to hire. The process is similar to that found in private industry. Non-Competitive positions have specific education and experience requirements that you must meet. Employers choose from among the qualified people who apply. Included in the non-competitive class can be a competitive position that is reclassified for a disabled applicant. (Section 55a of Civil Service Law) Labor positions have no requirements. Employers may choose anyone for these jobs. However, they frequently select individuals with the best work record.
How do I know what jobs are available?

All jobs and examinations are posted here.  This information, as well as applications and examination announcements, is available at the Niagara County Human Resources Department. It is recommended that you check the listing of current tests and/or vacancies every two (2) weeks so you do not miss the opportunity to apply for upcoming tests and/or vacancies. Positions that are posted and not subject to a test, are generally posted for ten (10) days.

Sign up for email notifications for jobs you are interested in here.

Where can I get an application and announcements?

Applications are available here and also at Niagara County Human Resources (111 Main Street, Suite G2, Lockport 14094).   You can also find exam announcements and apply online at the Employment Portal.

They may also be available in public libraries, town and village halls, County office buildings, the New York State Employment Service and at some non-profit agencies.

Sign up for email notifications here.

What Civil Service Exams are currently offered?
You can find current exam announcements and apply online at the Employment Portal.
What is the difference between open competitive and promotional exam?
Open competitive exams are open to the public, while promotion exams are open only to employees of the specific agency/department indicated on the announcement. Promotion eligible lists are certified to fill vacancies in the agency/department before open competitive lists are certified.
Can I file for more than one test?
If you apply for more than one Civil Service Exam, you must complete one application and pay the applicable fee for each exam you wish to take. If you have applied for one or more examinations offered by Niagara County and the City of Lockport, City of Niagara Falls, New York State or another County Civil Service Commission on the same date, you must complete a Cross Filer form. You can also complete this information as part of the online application found at the Employment Portal.  You do not need to fill out this form if you are taking multiple exams with Niagara County.
Do you offer alternate test dates?

Alternate test dates may be arranged upon review of circumstances according to the Alternate Test Date Policy established by this department. You must complete the Special Testing Arrangements form at least two (2) weeks prior to the date of the exam. NOTE: Saturday Sabbath observers, handicapped persons, active military members: If special arrangements for testing are required complete the Special Testing Arrangements form.

The alternate test date must be held within one (1) week of the candidate's availability.  Exams will be administered in our office Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm.  Requests due to employment will not be approved.

Is my degree and/or college acceptable?
Your degree must have been awarded by a college or university accredited by a regional, national, or specialized agency recognized as an accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education/U.S. Secretary of Education.  If your degree was awarded by an educational institution outside the United States and its territories, you must provide independent verification of equivalency.  A list of acceptable companies that provide this service can be found on the Internet at  You must pay the required evaluation fee.
Is there ever a waiver of the application fee?
Yes. Fees will be waived for candidates who certify that they are unemployed and primarily responsible for the support of a household, or are receiving public assistance. In order to request a fee waiver you must complete an Application for Fee Waiver Request and Certification form and submit it with your application by the close of business on the Application Deadline as listed on the Examination Announcement. You should read the Application Fee Waiver instructions to determine if you are eligible and what documentation you must submit to verify your eligibility. All claims will be subject to verification and if not supported by appropriate documentation are grounds for the disapproval of the application.
Where do I send my check/money order?
If you completed an online application and chose to mail a check or money order, it should be made payable to Niagara County Civil Service and mailed to 111 Main Street - Suite G2, Lockport, NY 14094.
How do I apply for additional veteran credits?
Veterans wishing to claim additional examination credits as a veteran or disabled veteran of a period of war or conflict as prescribed by the Veteran's Administration must file an Application for Veteran Credit form along with a copy of their discharge papers (DD-214) within two (2) months after the last date to file the examination application.
How do I waive a performance test?
If the exam you are taking requires a qualifying performance test and you have already completed the performance test, please submit a waiver in accordance with the examination announcement instructions. The exam announcement will inform you if a performance test is required.
What will be on the test(s)?
You can find out what areas each test will cover from the exam announcement under the heading "Scope of Examination." Announcements are distributed approximately four (4) weeks prior to the closing date for filing an application.
Are study materials available?
In most cases, neither New York State nor Niagara County provides nor recommends any study materials. Some materials may be available through public libraries, public employee unions and private publishers. We can make no comment on the quality or usefulness of such materials. New York State does provide some study guides for a few specific exams. Some are available on this website while others can be accessed at
Where are tests held?
Most exams are held at Niagara County Community College or the Niagara Falls High School. Smaller exams may be held in our office at 111 Main Street. Exams usually begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
What happens after I apply for the test(s)?
Applications for examinations are reviewed approximately two (2) weeks after the application deadline. Applicants who do not submit sufficient information to make a decision will be sent a letter and given one (1) week to respond with additional information. Applicants who do not meet the qualifications are notified by mail and are given one (1) week to respond with additional information. Individuals that meet the minimum qualifications are notified by mail at least one (1) week prior to the test date of the test location and other instructions.
When will I get my test results?

Test results are received from the New York State Civil Service Commission approximately two (2) months after a test. You will be notified by email (or mail if you've requested) of your score and placed on the eligible list. Only those with a score of seventy (70) or above are included on eligible lists. Jobs are filled from these lists by the employer. The employer may select a candidate who is one of the three highest scoring applicants willing to accept the job.

Eligible lists can be found here.

How can I review my test?

Some exam questions are open to review on the Saturday after the test is held. You must request this review at the test site when you finish your exam. You will be able to see the questions and answers, but not your test paper. 

After you receive your grade, you can request a computational review. You should complete the request form found here within 10 business days after the eligiblelist has been established.  You will be able to review a copy of your answer paper and the answer key, but not the actual questions. This review is normally held about two (2) months after you receive your grade (it takes time to get your exam papers back from New York State).  Our office will contact you when your papers are received.

Request a post-test review here

What is an eligible list?
An eligible list is a list of candidates who have passed an examination for a particular title ranked according to their test scores, from highest to lowest. The higher your score, the better your chances for getting a position. When an agency or department has an opening for a “competitive” position (one that requires passing an examination), they request a list of eligible candidates who have passed the appropriate examination for the position. We then send out canvass letters to those on the list to determine who is interested in the type of appointment available. Only those who reply within the specified time period, and say they are interested, and who are reachable (within the Rule of Three) may be appointed. As the list is used to hire, and as candidates on the list indicate they are not interested in a position, agencies/departments make their way down the list in score/rank order.
What's the "rule of three"?
Appointing authorities must select from the top three candidates willing to accept appointment. Click here for examples. If there are fewer than three (3) candidates, the appointing authority may make an appointment from the remaining names on the list or may make a provisional appointment and call for another exam.
Will I get the job if I get the highest test score on a civil service exam?

Test results are received from the New York State Civil Service Commission approximately two (2) months after a test. You will be notified by email (or mail if you've requested) of your score and placed on the eligible list. Only those with a score of seventy (70) or above are included on eligible lists. Jobs are filled from these lists by the employer. The employer may select a candidate who is one of the three highest scoring applicants willing to accept the job.

Eligible lists can be found here.

If I take an exam and am subsequently placed on a civil service eligible list, where are the eligible lists used?
Niagara County government departments, towns, villages, school districts and special districts (e.g. Niagara County Community College, Soil & Water District, North Tonawanda and Lewiston Public Libraries) use Niagara Civil Service lists to fill competitive class positions. Niagara County lists are not used by New York State, or the cities of Lockport or Niagara Falls. If you are interested in a job (untested) in a local government agency other than in Niagara County departments, apply directly to that town, village, school district, etc.
How long will my name be on a civil service eligible list?
An eligible list will be in existence for a minimum of 1 year, and may last up to 4 years. However, most eligible lists will be superseded by the establishment of a new eligible list prior to the 4-year time period. It is your responsibility to keep in touch with the Niagara County Human Resources Department on a continuous basis to keep apprised of upcoming examinations. If your name currently appears on an eligible list and you have not received an appointment, and a new examination is offered, it is recommended you take the new examination to ensure continued eligibility.
What if my contact information changes?

Notify this office immediately of any change of contact information including name, addres, or phone number by completing the Contact Information Change form. It is your responsibility to keep this information current. List all exams and eligible lists that need to be updated.

Electronic correspondence (admission notices, canvass letters, grade letters, etc.) is sent from so please add this to your address book so messages aren't sent to your Junk Mail.  The subject will be Niagara County Civil Service – New Letter. Please be sure to open and respond appropriately to all correspondence.