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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach


Position Descriptions

Guideline Contents

  • Responsible University Officer:
    Associate Vice President, Human Resources Management
  • Guideline Contact:
    Director, Staff Human Resources


An accurate and current position description is extremely important as it provides a clear picture of job duties to the employee and his/her supervisor. In addition, the position description provides the minimum qualifications, knowledge, skills and abilities required, and the organizational relationship of the position in the department.

The position description provides a foundation for:

  • a successful recruitment;
  • determining the appropriate bargaining unit, classification and salary placement for an employee;
  • translating organization goals into an individual position;
  • establishing a basis for performance evaluations;

The current position description template must used to ensure compliance with CSULB policy and procedures.


Who Prepares and Approves

The employee’s Appropriate Administrator is responsible for preparing position descriptions for vacant or new positions. For positions with incumbents, managers prepare the position description, but are encouraged to work closely with the employee to ensure that the position description is an accurate reflection of duties and responsibilities. It is important to note that responsibility for the final assignment of duties rests with management.

When are Position Descriptions Prepared?

Position descriptions are prepared for all new and vacant positions. A position description should be updated whenever the duties and responsibilities of an existing position change significantly.

Significant changes would include:

  • When new positions are developed
  • Cycle Review
  • Reorganization/expansion of a program resulting in different duties and responsibilities.
  • Reassignment of duties (duties added or removed)
  • Change in supervisors/supervisees (more or less supervision given or received)
  • Change in physical facilities/surroundings (e.g., hazard or fatigue factors)
  • Technological change (e.g., new equipment requiring special licensing, or specialized knowledge)

Factors to Consider in Preparing Position Descriptions

The primary challenge to writing a position description is capturing an accurate picture of the scope, complexity, autonomy, decision-making authority, and impact of the position. The following factors may be considered when writing each task, duty or responsibility.

Nature and Variety of Work

  • What is the purpose of the position?
  • What are the major areas of responsibility and percentage of time spent in each?
  • What tasks are performed in each major area of responsibility?
  • What machines, equipment, and instruments are operated, for what purpose and in what context?
  • What work methods are used for each task? What steps are involved? Are the steps repetitive? Non-routine?
  • To what extent is work self directed?
  • What errors are possible to make and what are the consequences of the errors?

Nature of Supervisory Control Exercised over the Position

  • Who assigns the work and sees that it gets done? At the time work is received, what work has already completed and what happens next?
  • When an assignment is received, are detailed specific instructions given showing how the work is to be done, or are there general expectations and procedures to follow? Give examples.
  • How is work reviewed and by whom?
  • What are the major problems that may arise and how are they handled?
  • What kind of problems are escalted to the supervisor and how does one decide what is to be referred?

Availability and Nature of Guidelines, Controlling Decisions and Actions

  • What regulations, procedures, manuals, precedents or other guidelines are used to complete work?
  • Do these guidelines indicate clearly what is to be done and how it is to be done, or are they in need of interpretation? Give examples.
  • Results should be concrete, something that can be seen, heard, read, etc. This provides the supervisor with the ability to assess the quality of the evidence and determine whether the learning goal/objective was successfully achieved.

Nature and Scope of Authority

  • What actions can be taken and what decisions can be made that are binding on the office or agency? How extensive is the effect of these actions or decisions?
  • Do actions taken affect only the particular case involved, or will these actions and decisions impact future cases or situations?
  • What regulations, office policies, or statutes limit authority in making such actions?
  • Are these actions and decisions subject to review? If yes, by whom?

Originality of Thinking Required

  • What parts of the work performed are not covered by rules, established procedures, precedents or reference to others?
  • What are the most difficult assignments?
  • Provide examples of instances in which imagination, inventiveness, or creativity is needed to perform the work.
  • To what extent does the work require the development of new or revised work techniques?
  • To what extent does the employee plan work projects or establish policies?

Nature and Purpose of Person-To-Person Work Relationships (not including those with the supervisor or those supervised)

  • What is the purpose and nature of the position’s person-to-person contacts? Examples: Giving or receiving information; explaining policies or operations; persuading others concerning the benefits of a program; settling problems.
  • With whom are these contacts made?
  • What problems arise in the course of work with these contacts?

Nature And Extent Of Supervisory Control Over The Work of Others

  • Is staff divided into smaller units? If yes, what are the units, and to whom do the unit supervisors report?
  • Does the employee plan the work to be done by the staff supervised or is the employee primarily concerned with the way in which work is accomplished?
  • Is the employee primarily concerned with making sure that the orders issued by someone else are carried out, or is the employee responsible for originating and issuing orders?
  • Does the employee determine the work methods and to whom work is to be assigned?
  • What responsibilities does the employee have with respect to determining the need for, selecting and training new employees?
  • How does the employee review the work of employees supervised?
  • How many employees are directly or indirectly supervised? What are their working titles and classifications? Does the employee prepare or review the performance evaluations for these employees?
  • Is the employee responsible for corrective action and discipline? Give examples?

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • What essential skills, knowledge, personal attributes, or special techniques are needed to do the work?
  • What are the minimum education level and experience requirements of the position?
  • What hazards or unusual working conditions exist?
  • Are any licenses or certificates required to do the work?

Completing the Final Position Description

The position description is divided into twelve (12) sections.

  1. Purpose of the Position:
    This section should provide the overall responsibilities, typically in one or two sentences. This should be a broad statement that conveys a general idea of the position such as: “Under general supervision, the incumbent provides the full scope of administrative support to the Department Chair including preparing correspondence, managing the chair’s calendar, coordinating office operations, and overseeing student assistants in department.”

  2. Major Responsibilities:
    The average position will have three to five major responsibilities. Identify the major responsibilities of the position and prioritize them by listing the most significant to the least significant. Assign a percentage to each major responsibility. Combining a variety of duties (5-10%) in an Other Duties As Assigned category is acceptable. The percentages assigned to the major responsibilities of the position should equal 100%.

  3. Changes in Responsibilities
    If this is a new position, type “N/A.” If this is a position description for a current employee who has had a change in duties, whether added or removed, indicate the changes in this section. Be sure to incorporate these changes into the position description, particularly in Section 4, List of Tasks or Duties.

  4. List of Tasks or Duties
    Once the major duties have been finalized, using the major responsibility as your header, make a list of each individual task that is associated with it until all duties for that area have been accounted for. Each major responsibility should have a listing of specific duties associated with it.

    Be as specific as possible. Avoid using vague or general verbs like “Coordinate, Perform, or Handle” because they can leave room for individual interpretation.

    • Unclear Example: Coordinate the university key renewal process.
    • Good Example: Maintains a list of key renewal dates and initiates notifications to the appropriate managers monthly.
  5. Supervision of Others
    Indicate what employees and students the employee supervises. The supervision can be direct or general.

  6. Purpose and Nature of Work Relationship
    Include those individuals the employee will interact with, both on and off campus.

  7. Requirements of the Positions
    • In Section A, list any education, experience, certificates, licenses required or preferred.
    • In Section B, list any knowledge, skills and abilities required for the position.
    • In Section C, list any machines, tools or vehicles used in the job.
  8. Special Working Conditions
    List any special working conditions

  9. Physical Summary
    Include physical requirements of the job.

  10. Mandated Reporter
    Staff Human Resources will determine whether the position is a General or Limited Mandated reporter.

  11. Signatures Section
    The form is signed by the employee, department chair or lead (if applicable), the employee’s Appropriate Administrator, and the Administrative Services Manager.

  12. Organization Chart
    Please attach a current organizational chart that shows the reporting relationships for this position.

Submitting the new Position Description

Once the new position description is finalized attach an organizational chart and provide to the ASM. The ASM will forward it to Staff Human Resources for classification review.


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Subject Contact Phone Email
Subject Matter Expert Gina Caywood (562) 985-8326



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Issue Date: May 2008

Last Review Date: June 2018

Amended Date: June 2018

Amended Description: Updated to add instructions on completing the position description.