State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Division of Personnel and Labor Relations

Classification: Glossary of Terms

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A category of work that involves the exercise of analytical ability, judgment, discretion and personal responsibility, and the application of a substantial body of knowledge of principles, concepts and practices applicable to one or more fields of administration or management. While these positions do not require specialized education, they do involve the type of skills (analysis, research, writing, judgment) typically gained through a college level education or through progressively responsible experience.
A level within a class series where assignments consist of unusual, difficult or exceptional matters encountered in the work, which are completed by modifying approaches, methods or techniques. Advanced-level work must be defined and represents expertise in a specialty area. Specialists in particular aspects of a profession sometimes fit into this category.
A principle Department of the Executive Branch that is engaged in providing specified State services to the public.
The proper relationship among the grades of positions so that the differences in grade reflect differences in difficulty and responsibility of the work performed. Also see Internal Alignment.
The assignment of a position to a specific job class.
The power of an employee or organization to make official decisions. It may be formally conferred by law, or delegated within the organization. It may be functional authority, or authority which is intrinsic in the duties and responsibilities of the position, or it may be based on special knowledge or skill.

A job that is commonly found, defined, and used as a standard or reference by which others can be measured or judged.
Best Fit Allocation
Allocation of a position to a job class when the position does not fit within the boundaries described in the Class Specification. Such an allocation is made when there is no other job class that the position can be better allocated to and there is insufficient justification to create a new job class.
Bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ)
Employment qualifications that employers are allowed to consider while making decisions about the hiring and retention of employees. The qualification must relate to an essential job duty and is considered necessary for operation of the particular business. In order to establish the defense of bona fide occupational qualification, an employer must prove the requirement is necessary to the success of the business and that a definable group or class of employees would be unable to perform the job safely and efficiently.
Borderline Position
A position that falls in between two levels of a class series. Positions of this type typically display characteristics that exceed those described at the lower level while falling short of those characteristics described at the next higher level.

Categories of Work
A broad and general sorting of work types. The categories that the State of Alaska uses include Professional, Administrative, Technical/Paraprofessional, and Clerical.
Class Definition
A concise statement that defines the nature, type, and level of work performed by positions in the job class.
Class Series
Two or more job classes sharing a common title which are similar as to type of work, but differ as to the level of difficulty and responsibility. Each job class within a series is indicated by Roman numeral level indicators after the series title.
Class Specification
A written guide for and description of a job class. Per AS 39.25.150 and 2 AAC 07.010, this information must include:
  1. The official Class Title;
  2. Class Definition;
  3. Typical Examples of Duties and responsibilities; and,
  4. The Minimum Qualification (MQ) requirements for appointment to a position in the class.
Class Title
The official name given to a class of positions to identify the class and all positions in the class (e.g., Human Resource Specialist). It is intended to concisely and accurately convey the kind and level of work performed and should be brief, easily recognized, gender neutral, and understood by potential applicants. It is distinguished from a Working Title by the latter's identification of a particular function that the incumbent is associated with (e.g., Classification Analyst or Management Services Consultant instead of Human Resource Specialist).
Classification Factors
The fundamental factors covering all kinds of jobs normally encountered in State service that serve as an overall frame of reference for the Job Analysis of positions for classification purposes, which include the maintenance of a logical and consistent relationship among:
  1. The duties and responsibilities of positions;
  2. The qualification standards to fill them; and,
  3. Where employment conditions are substantially the same, the salaries paid.

The factors applied in job analyses are:

  1. Nature, variety, and complexity of work: The kind, difficulty & variety of the work assigned.
    1. "Nature" includes the kind of work performed as shown by such elements as the subject matter, profession or occupation involved.
    2. "Variety" includes the range of duties and the inherently different kinds of work included in the position. As applied to a class, it reflects the range of work and skills which are included in the class.
    3. "Complexity" includes the difficulty in identifying what needs to be done, and the difficulty and originality involved in performing the work.

  2. Nature of supervision received by the incumbent: The nature and extent of deliberate and planned supervisory controls exercised over the position, which limit the scope of work, the independence with which the work is performed, and the nature and finality of decisions made by the incumbent.
  3. Nature of available guidelines for performing work: The extent to which performing work is controlled or influenced by rules, regulations, manuals, procedures, prescribed work practices, principles, policies, or other written instruction or methods.
  4. Initiative and originality required: The degree of inventiveness, imagination, and ability to innovate or create new approaches or previously unused methods and deviations from standard work practices. Essentially, the resourcefulness or ingenuity required to solve new problems or old problems in new ways is the crux of this factor.
  5. Purpose and nature of person-to-person work relationships: The relations maintained with other persons (not in the supervisory chain) inside and outside the organization in order to:
    1. Give or secure information;
    2. Render personal service;
    3. Perform administrative services;
    4. Explain policies or method;
    5. Interpret programs, plans, or individual actions;
    6. Coordinate and secure cooperation; or,
    7. Resolve controversies by means of personal contact.

  6. Nature and scope of recommendations, decisions, commitments, and consequence of error: The questions, problems, or types of cases that the employee makes recommendations, decisions, commitments, or conclusions on that affect the operations, plans, programs, methods, or policies as well as the degree of finality in such judgments or actions as measured against predetermined and established criteria such as instructions, delegated authority, and supervisory review, or agency policies, rules, regulations, statutes, or precedents.
  7. Nature and extent of supervision exercised over the work of other employees: The level, kinds, and extent of independence of responsibilities in areas such as setting policies; establishing objectives; planning, organizing and establishing work flow; making assignments and reviewing work; selecting, training, and rating performance of employees; coordinating production; and attending to the personnel and administrative functions of the organization.
  8. Qualifications required: The knowledge, skills, abilities, and other requirements necessary for appointment to a position in the job class. The qualifications required should reflect the other seven factors, as well as the tasks assigned to the position.
Classification Plan
The framework of job descriptions wherein positions are assigned to a job class based on duties, responsibilities, and requirements of training or experience.
Classification Study
A review of the work performed by positions in a job class. A study is warranted when either the classifications of a substantial number of positions in an activity are out of date, or the class specifications themselves are out of date, because of:
  1. Extensive reorganization or redistribution of work;
  2. Substantial increases or decreases in workload; and/ or,
  3. Unreported gradual changes in the nature and/or level of assignments and responsibilities.
A category of work that involves processing data normally initiated elsewhere or that can be readily ascertained and subject to verification, revision, correction, and forwarding for action, referral, or archiving. The work is structured, often repetitive, and performed in accordance with established guidelines.
Closely Related Job Classes
Two job classes or class series whose definitions and requisite education and experience are so closely related that typical incumbents of the current class series could satisfactorily perform the duties of the lower levels in the other class series and, whose experience in the lower level series should qualify an employee for promotional examination in the current class series for the purposes of layoff and demotion. The salary range must be lower in the other class series for a voluntary demotion or rehire.
Coupled Job Class
A job class where the journey (or full working) level of work requires specific certification and training (e.g., Correctional Officers). Employees are hired at the trainee level of the class series and must complete specialized training that is not available elsewhere before advancing to the journey level. Because of the specialized training requirements, positions may be filled at the journey level job class only by transfer, rehire, or layoff recall.
Cyclic Duties
A duty or duties performed periodically, on a predictably recurrent basis (e.g., summer fish counts via a fish weir).

A formal subdivision of the Executive Branch that is engaged in providing specified State services to the public. Also see Agency.
Desired Qualifications
Preferred behavioral characteristics, strengths, skills, knowledge, and relevant experience, etc, which demonstrate that an applicant or employee has the ideal qualifications for an office, position, or task.
Developmental (a.k.a., Advanced Trainee)
A level of work where assignments involve completing limited and well-defined projects or completing portions of the journey-level work for the purpose of furthering the incumbent's training. This level occurs in occupations with an identified journey level that requires an extended training period with distinct and progressive levels or phases of training.
One or more tasks assigned to a position by responsible management authority.

A level of work where assignments consist of basic or elementary tasks and duties. This level is appropriate when these tasks and duties constitute the primary purpose of one or more positions and are ongoing.
Examples of Duties
An illustrative list of duties that portray the type and level of work of the job class. The list is not all-inclusive but is indicative of the kind and level of work typically assigned to positions in the class.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as Amended (FLSA), governs the minimum wage, maximum hours, and overtime eligibility of the incumbents of State positions. Exemption from the overtime provisions of the FLSA are determined based on the primary duty of employees of bona fide executive, professional, or administrative positions.
Flexible Staffing
A recruitment and retention and workforce planning tool that facilitates entry to an occupational field and provides a formal training path so higher level work can be performed or to facilitate knowledge transfer for advanced or expert positions that otherwise cannot be filled. Flexible staffing plans are established individually for single positions and must be directly related to achieving the ability to perform the duties required at the higher level job class.
Any specific activity that is required to be performed, can be clearly distinguished from other activities, and is required to maintain the continuity of the organization or the mission which justifies its existence.
Functional Organizational Chart
A chart showing the distribution of functions among the units, sections, or programs of an organization.
Fundamental Work Changes
Changes to the nature, type, or level of work such that the competencies of current employees and the knowledge, skills, and minimum qualifications of their current job classes are no longer adequate to perform the required duties. Such changes would typically require new employees and job classes.

Immediate Supervisor (a.k.a., Line Supervisor)
The employee who occupies the first level of responsible supervision over a position.
The employee who occupies a position.
See Program Employee.
Internal Alignment
The method of setting salary levels based on the relationships of jobs within an employer's organization. The State uses internal alignment to comply with merit principles and the statutory goal of maintaining the principle of "like pay for like work." This alignment is determined through comparison of the eight Classification Factors of the job classes comprising the relevant job family and assessing the similarities and differences in terms of their levels of skill, difficulty, responsibility, and overall authority.

Job Analysis
The close examination of the nature, variety, and complexity of duties, level of authority, and other controlling factors that govern the allocation of an individual position to a particular job class.
Job Class
A group of positions (or a single position) that are sufficiently similar in duties and responsibilities, degree of supervision exercised or required, and entrance requirements that they may be treated the same for purposes of recruitment, selection, compensation, transfer and layoff. The kind and level of work assigned to positions in a job class must be essentially the same.
Job Family
A group of job classes and class series related by the nature of the work performed. The initial preparation for employment and subsequent career progression are typically similar for all job classes within a specific family.
Journey (a.k.a., Full-Working or Full-Proficiency)
A level of work that involves a variety of assignments that are typical of the field or profession. Incumbents perform the full range of assignments independently, using standard methods and techniques of the field. This work usually requires both knowledge and experience in the related job area as a minimum qualification for entry into the class. Most positions in an organization normally fall into this level.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities (KSAs)
The section of formal job class specifications that details the competencies that even the most minimally qualified newly appointed employee should possess to perform the work on entry to the job. KSAs cover all significant aspects of the work; serve as guides to developing assessment tools and work standards; are measurable or verifiable through assessment devices such as tests, demonstrations, observations, or reviews of previous accomplishments; and do not refer to personal elements such as honesty, sobriety, industry and dependability since these attributes are requirements for employment in any position.

The following shorthand terms are used to define the level of knowledge required:

  1. Some Knowledge: Familiarity with a particular subject matter, gained by completing introductory training or course work in the field, self-study, or limited practice in the field, indicated by acquisition of a bachelor's degree or equivalent.
  2. Working Knowledge:Sufficient knowledge to perform effectively in a range of work situations.
  3. Considerable Knowledge: Sufficient knowledge of the subject to enable the employee to perform effectively in all normal work situations of the field.
  4. Thorough Knowledge: Advanced knowledge of the subject to enable the employee to perform unusually difficult and complex assignments in the field.
  5. Extensive Knowledge: Broad and intensive grasp of substantially all areas of the subject sufficient to enable the employee to originate new hypotheses, concepts or approaches and/or to direct their implementation indicated by a doctorate degree or equivalent in the subject.
  6. Skill: A demonstrated capacity to perform the physical or mental activities required to complete the associated task.
  7. Ability: A potential, whether or not developed, for performing the associated task.

A position assigned regular and recurring responsibility for common supervisory duties such as writing performance evaluations, mentoring, training, determining how work is performed, assigning work and monitoring workloads. Lead employees may participate in interviews and rating applicants but donít typically exercise the level of authority to act or effectively recommends actions regarding hiring, discipline, or grievance adjudication as full Supervisory staff defined by 8 AAC 97.990(a)(5).
Line Function
A function directly concerned with accomplishing an organization's primary purpose. For Example: a line function for a shipyard would be the construction, overhaul, or repair of naval vessels.
Line Position
A position directly engaged in performing the work for which a unit is established, such as a social worker in the Office of Children's Services. A Line Position is distinguished from Staff or Support Positions by the responsibility of the latter types of positions to perform more advisory and/or supportive functions.

A general term referring to the officials in an organization who exercise line-control over the primary duties of the organization in order to determine what must be done; set forth the general policy for accomplishment; set-up the organization to do the work; exercise financial controls over production; and utilize personnel to provide the necessary services.
A level of work that involves the assignment of primary responsibility for one or more major programs or functions. The emphasis is on planning, organizing, directing and controlling resources and, overseeing program delivery.
Marginal Duty
Any incidental or miscellaneous duty or responsibility (or group of closely related duties or responsibilities) assigned to a position, which does not occupy a significant amount of the employee's time and is not a determinant of a qualification requirement for employment in the position.
Maintenance Request
Proposed minor changes to a job class specification, such as corrections of typos, minimum qualification revisions, and the removal of references to obsolete job classes. Maintenance Requests do not affect class concepts, class series structure, or salary range assignment; requests for such changes should be submitted as a Classification Study Request.
Merit Principle
The recruitment, selection, and advancement of public employees under conditions of political neutrality, equal opportunity, and competition on the basis of merit and competence as mandated by Article XII, Section 6 of the Alaska Constitution and defined by AS 39.25.010(b).
Minimum Qualifications (MQs)
The lowest type, level, and amount of experience and/or education through which a candidate would normally acquire the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) in order to be eligible to apply for appointment to a specific job class.
Moderate Work Changes
Changes to the duties and responsibilities of positions in a unit that could alter their allocation within the existing class structure, but are not so great that they would:
  1. Alter the defining characteristics of a job class;
  2. Dictate changing the boundaries between levels in a class series; or,
  3. Mandate creating a new job class for a previously unrecognized body of work.

Moderate work changes typically include changes in technology, regulatory processes, reporting relationships, and/or distribution of work among fewer/more positions.

Multiple Class Position
A recruitment and retention tool that allows management to fill a position for either licensed or non-licensed work, depending on applicant qualifications. Multiple class positions use more than one job class, all of which are performing related work (e.g., Licensed Practical Nurse, Nurse I, and Nurse II). It may be comprised of multiple levels within a class series or multiple related classes and may be combined with flexible staffing. It may apply to either a single position or all positions within a job class.

Nonpermanent Position
A temporary position in State service that is not in the exempt or partially exempt service and is not a permanent or an emergency position.

Organizational Chart (a.k.a., Staffing Chart)
A chart illustrating the organizational structure and subordinate relationships. The chart should include the correct position control numbers, proposed job class titles, salary ranges, location, and reflect the proposed organizational structure and supervisory relationships. You may also find additional information in HR Update, FY 11 Ė Issue 04.

Parallel Job Classes
Two job classes or class series whose definitions, requisite education and experience, and pay ranges are so closely related that typical incumbents of either class series could satisfactorily perform the duties of the corresponding level in the other class series for the purposes of transfer or rehire. Typically, the compared positions are in the same bargaining unit.
PD of Record
The official position description that was last reviewed, analyzed, and approved by the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations, Classification Section.
Permanent Employee
Is an employee who has been appointed to an authorized, permanent full-time or part-time or permanent seasonal position in the classified service and who has successfully completed the required probationary period for that job class.
Personnel Administration
The activities that comprise the employee/employer relationship including, but not limited to, recruiting and hiring, training, supervising, evaluating, disciplining, promoting, compensating, and responding to grievances.
Personnel Management
The aspect of management that is concerned with people and their relationships at work. Personnel management is the responsibility of all those who manage people, as well as an operational function with policy-level responsibility for the day-to-day people management activities.
The internal plans, guiding principles, or procedures of the agency that are intended to influence and determine how decisions, actions, and other matters are handled by employees.
A group of duties and responsibilities assigned by the appointing authority that are designed to be performed by a full-time or part-time individual, or the part-time employment of two or more individuals, and which is authorized and designated by a position control number (PCN).
Position Audit
A formal interview with an incumbent and/or supervisor to verify or gather information about a position. Commonly known as a "desk audit," this is an opportunity for the employee to explain the assigned work. A significant portion of a typical desk audit is devoted to discovering how duties assigned a position(s) fit within the organizational structure and work flows.
Position Classification
The process of comparing the duties and qualifications of a position(s) with the existing guidelines of the State's classification plan and assigning the position to the appropriate job class and pay range.
Position Description (PD)
The form used for recording the duties, responsibilities, reporting relationships, and federal requirements related to an individual position. The PD is the primary source of information for classifying a position to a job class or for conducting a classification study. The PD is also a management tool for documenting assigned duties, evaluating employee performance, hiring new employees, etc. The State of Alaska utilizes the Online Position Description (OPD) system for submitting, approving, and viewing position descriptions or position control actions.
Position Management
The continuous and systematic process of ensuring that organizations and positions are structured efficiently and economically. It is the series of steps that managers and supervisors go through to determine the type of organizational structure that is required to fulfill the function(s) assigned to a particular unit, how many positions are needed, and how positions should be designed.
Primary Duty
The main purpose of a position. This should describe the reason the position exists and is the basis for determining the occupational group, family, and series within which the position will be classified.
A category of work that is creative, analytical, evaluative, interpretive, and requires a range and depth of specialized and theoretical knowledge in a field of science or learning characteristically acquired through education or training equivalent to a bachelor's degree or higher. The work requires the exercise of discretion, judgment, and personal responsibility for the application of an organized body of knowledge that is constantly studied to make new discoveries and interpretations and to improve data, materials, and methods.
Program Employee (a.k.a., Intern)
A nonpermanent State employee who is a high school, college, or graduate-equivalent student and whose assigned duties and responsibilities, as governed by a formalized training plan, merge relevant academic study with on-the-job training in order to develop "real world" experiences in preparation for entry into the permanent work force.
An ongoing operation or function of the organization that encompasses the division's mission, objectives, and goals.
Project Employee
A nonpermanent employee who is employed in State service with prior written understanding that employment in that position will continue for at most the duration of a specified project that is not a regular and continuing function of a department or agency and that has an established probable date of termination.
A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result whose end is reached when the objectives have been achieved or it becomes clear they will not or cannot be met.

Reclassification (a.k.a., Reallocation)
A formal change in a position's classification, based on changes to the assigned duties and responsibilities, to either a different level within the current class series or to a completely different job class series.
Government orders having the force of law that control human or societal behavior by rules or restrictions.
The planned addition, redistribution, or elimination of functions and duties within an organization.
Required Qualifications
Those qualifications defined by statute and/or regulation that an employee must have in order to perform the duties of a particular occupation.
The exploration, investigation, and analysis directed toward advancing the general body of knowledge of a particular discipline or art form with a view to a specific application.
The obligation of an employee to fulfill her or his assigned duties according to the orders received from higher authority so that the organizational objective is successfully accomplished with the maximum effectiveness and efficiency. It reflects the extent of supervision received, supervision exercised, and commitment authority of a particular position for such matters as procedures, methods, plans, policies; control of money, labor, materials, or equipment; and development or maintenance of records.

Salary Range (a.k.a., Pay Range or Wage Grade)
The range of pay rates (i.e., steps or increments) to which a Job Class is assigned and whose specific dollar values are determined through collective bargaining and legislatively approved salary schedules.
Significant Work Changes
Changes to the nature, type, or level of the work of a group of positions that would:
  1. Alter the defining characteristics of a job class;
  2. Dictate changing the boundaries between job classes; or,
  3. Mandate creating a new job class for a previously unrecognized body of work.

Significant work changes typically include a licensing requirement to perform the work that distinguishes a job class, reorganizations that create new level of hierarchical authority and responsibility that do not fit into the existing class structures, and/or workflow and work processes changes that require that one or more positions perform work that is new to the unit to efficiently complement the existing positions.

Skilled Craft and Labor
A category of work that involves repetitive operations using physical skill and energy. The work requires a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the processes involved which is typically acquired through on-the-job training and experience, apprenticeship, or other formal training program.
The particular area of work of a given job class. In position titling, this is the area of work within a series. The specialization may be in a subject-matter, function, equipment, etc., and may involve use of an option within a job class or an entirely different title.
Staff Position
A position outside the line function chain of command of an organization that has the responsibility of providing support to the organization's management or overseeing a support function. It is distinguished from a Line Position by the latter's direct engagement in performing the work for which a unit is established.
Subject Matter Expert (SME)
A person with direct knowledge of what is done in an occupation and what knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics are required to perform the work successfully.
As defined by 8 AAC 97.990(a)(5), an employee who, regardless of job description or title, has the authority to act or to effectively recommend an action in the interest of the State; and exercises independent judgment in any one of the following functions:
  1. Employing, including hiring, transferring, laying off, or recalling;
  2. Disciplining, including suspending, discharging, demoting, or issuing written warnings; or,
  3. Grievance adjudication, including responding to a first level grievance under a collective bargaining agreement.
Supervisory Interview (a.k.a., Supervisory Audit)
A formal interview with a supervisor in order to verify or gather information about the work assigned to a subordinate position.
Support Position
A position that performs a facilitating service to a unit, such as the receptionist or accounting clerk to a line unit. It is distinguished from a Line Position by the latter's direct engagement in performing the work for which a unit is established.

Technical (includes Paraprofessional)
Technical employees perform tasks, methods, procedures, and computations that are covered by established precedents or guidelines and often require a high degree of skill, care, and precision. (Paraprofessional work is typically associated with and supportive of a professional field.) It involves extensive practical knowledge gained through experience and/or specific formal or on-the-job training. Work in these occupations may involve substantial elements of the work of the professional or administrative field, but requires less than full knowledge of the field involved.
A level of work where assignments are similar to those of the Entry level; however, they also include as a significant duty the completion of training in order to perform at the journey level. The purpose of the trainee level is to develop an employee's knowledge and skills necessary to perform journey level work. This level is suited for flexibly staffed or coupled classes.
The rate at which an employer gains and loses employees (i.e., the measurement of how long employees tend to stay in their jobs). State turnover may be classified as either Internal (where employees leave one State position for another) or External (where employees separate from State service for employment elsewhere).

Whole Job Analysis
The systematic process of collecting and making certain judgments about information relating to the duties and responsibilities of a position based on the Classification Factors. The analyzed information is used in job class design, the development of the job class specifications, and position allocation.
Working Title
An unofficial name given to a position to identify it with a particular function for which the incumbent is associated. It is distinguished from a Class Title by the latter's function as the official title for all positions in the job class (e.g., Human Resource Specialist instead of Classification Analyst or Management Services Consultant).
Workload is the production output, in terms of physical items to be accomplished by a position, within a given period of time to meet any requirements imposed or assumed.