Classification Glossary

This glossary has been provided by the Office of Financial Management, State Human Resources department.

Note: The language in the class specification will have priority when explaining or defining any of the terms.


Administrative: See Nature of Work.

Advise: Identify options and recommend a course of action to assist others to resolve problems or make decisions.

Allocation: Assignment of a position to a job class (WAC 357-01-020).

Best Fit: Allocation of a position to a class when the duties are not a perfect fit but best describes the majority of duties and level of responsibility assigned to the position.

Class: A level of work (WAC 357-01-075).

Class Series: A grouping of job functions having similar purpose and knowledge requirements but different levels of difficulty and responsibility (WAC 357-01-080).

Class Series Concept: Describes the overall purpose, duties, and general responsibilities of classes in a series. Not all series have a class series concept, however, if one exists, it is typically found at the entry level of the class series.

Class Specification: An official document that defines the primary purpose of the job class. It summarizes the nature and scope of the duties and responsibilities.

Complexity of Work: Refers to the scope, variety, and difficulty of the duties, responsibilities, and skills required to perform the work.

Basic: Performs clear-cut tasks under close or direct supervision with little choice as to which rules and procedures to follow or materials or equipment to use

Routine: Performs several related and repetitive tasks that require some judgment regarding the rules and procedures to follow or the materials or equipment to use.

Complex: Independently uses a wide variety of rules, processes, materials and equipment to complete work assignments that require specialized knowledge or skills. Decisions are made independently regarding which rules, processes, materials, and equipment to use in order to effectively accomplish work assignments.

Highly/Most Complex: Responsibilities include extensive research and analysis of systems, facts, figures, or similar information to determine the nature and scope of problems that need to be solved. Develops new policies, procedures, or techniques to address problems not covered by existing written procedures or manuals.

Compression: Occurs when there is an insufficient salary differential between the subordinate and the supervisor or between class levels within a series.

Coordinate: Independently organize, monitor, evaluate, and make adjustments for a program or activity.

Direct the Work of Others: Provides work guidance or direction but is NOT a “lead”; does NOT have the responsibility of assigning, instructing and checking the work of others on a regular and ongoing basis.

Entry: See Level of Work.

Expert: See Level of Work.

Incumbent: A person currently holding an assigned position.

Independent: Authority to make decisions without supervisory approval regarding the work rules, processes, procedures, materials, equipment, and methods which will be used. Modifications to processes, procedures, and methods must conform to the employer’s policies and regulations.

Inversion: When the salary of the subordinate is higher than that of the supervisor.

Job Description: See Position Description.

Journey-Level: See Level of Work.

Judgment: The latitude an individual has in making decisions such as work priorities, workflow, work methods, and formulating, revising, interpreting and applying policies, procedures, rules and regulations.

Lead: An employee who performs the same or similar duties as other employees in their work group and has the designated responsibility to regularly assign, instruct, and check the work of those employees on an ongoing basis.

Level of Work: Each level listed is typically a separate class with a separate title, salary, and different work performed.

Entry: Performs beginning level work under close or direct supervision. Incumbents typically work within narrowly established guidelines and parameters. Duties are often repetitive, and routine and decision-making are limited. Clear work directions and parameters are provided, and outcomes are reviewed by higher levels.

Journey: Fully competent and qualified in all aspects of a body of work and given broad/general guidance. Individuals can complete work assignments to standard under general supervision. Also referred to as the working or fully qualified level.

Senior: The performance of work requiring the consistent application of advanced knowledge and requiring a skilled and experienced practitioner to function independently. Senior-level work includes devising methods and processes to resolve complex or difficult issues that have broad potential impact. These issues typically involve competing interests, multiple clients, conflicting rules or practices, a range of possible solutions, or other elements that contribute to complexity. The senior-level has full authority to plan, prioritize, and handle all duties within an assigned area of responsibility. Senior-level employees require little supervision, and their work is not typically checked by others.

Expert: Within the context of the class series, has the highest level of responsibility and extensive knowledge based on research and experience in a specific area. Resolves the most complex, critical, or precedent-setting issues that arise. Positions act as a resource and provide guidance on specialized technical issues. Although an employee may be considered by their peers as an expert or “go-to” person at any level, for purposes of allocation, the term is typically applied to an employee in a higher class level who has gained expertise through progression in the series.

Managerial: See Nature of Work

Nature of Work: Basic types of work assignments performed by a class:

Administrative: Determines or participates in making policy, formulates long-range objectives and programs, and reviews the implementation of programs for conformance to policies and objectives.

Clerical: Work that supports office operations.

Managerial: Plans, coordinates, integrates, executes, controls, and evaluates activities and functions of an organization. This includes developing budgets, policies and procedures, service delivery, and staff supervision.

Paraprofessional: In a supportive role, performs some of the duties of a professional or technician. These duties usually require less formal training and/or experience normally required for professional or technical status.

Professional: Performs work that requires consistent application of advanced knowledge usually acquired through a college degree in a recognized field, work experience, or other specialized training. Exercises discretion and independent judgment when performing assignments. Examples include, but are not limited to, social workers, psychologists, registered nurses, economists, teachers or instructors, human resource consultants, accountants, and information system analysts.

Technical: Specialized knowledge or skills gained through academic or vocational courses offered in technical and community colleges, or equivalent on-the-job training.

Trades: Duties require specialized manual or mechanical skills and a comprehensive knowledge of work processes, normally acquired through an apprenticeship or other training program.

Paraprofessional: See Nature of Work.

Position: A group of duties and responsibilities performed by an employee (WAC 357-01-240).

Position Description: An official document describing the functions and tasks assigned to a position.

Procedure: A written course of action or method for completing assignments; the how-to steps to produce a desired result.

Professional: See Nature of Work.

Program: A specialized area with specific complex components and tasks that distinguish it from other programs (or the main body of an organization). A program is specific to a particular subject and has a specific mission, goals, and objectives. A program typically has an identifiable funding source and a separate budget code.

The specific components and specialized tasks involve the interpretation of policies, procedures, and regulations, budget coordination/administration, and independent functioning. Typically requires public contact relating specifically to program subject matter, clients, and participants.

Duties are not of a general support nature transferable from one program to another. Performance of clerical duties is in support of an incumbent’s performance of specialized tasks. Independent performance of these duties usually requires at least a six-month training period.

Program Manager: Duties involve authority over:

  • Developing program goals and objectives.
  • Developing timetables and work plans to achieve program goals and objectives.
  • Developing program policies and procedures.
  • Preparing program budgets, adjusting allotments, and authorizing expenditures.
  • Controlling allocation of program resources.
  • Setting and adjusting program priorities.
  • Evaluating program effectiveness.

Reallocation: The assignment of a position to a different class (WAC 357-01-270).

Senior-Level: See Level of Work.

Specialist: Duties involve the intensive application of knowledge and skills in a specific segment of an occupational area.

Supervision Required:
Supervision required is determined by the following:

  • Amount of higher-level oversight the employee receives.
  • Latitude the employee has in determining which work methods and priorities to apply.
  • Scope of decision-making authority delegated to the employee.
  • Extent to which the employee’s completed assignments are reviewed.

(1) Direct or close supervision

  • Supervisor or lead provides daily oversight of work activities.
  • Employee is given specific instructions regarding duties to perform, assignments to complete and sequence of work steps and processes to follow.
  • Employee follows clearly defined work procedures, processes, formats, and priorities.
  • Work is frequently reviewed for accuracy, completion, and adherence to instructions and established standards, processes, and procedures.

(2) General supervision

  • Employee performs recurring assignments without daily oversight by applying established guidelines, policies, procedures, and work methods.
  • Employee prioritizes day-to-day work tasks. Supervisor provides guidance and must approve a deviation from established guidelines, policies, procedures, and work methods.
  • Decision-making is limited in context to the completion of work tasks. Completed work is consistent with established guidelines, policies, procedures, and work methods. Supervisory guidance is provided in new or unusual situations.
  • Work is periodically reviewed for compliance with guidelines, policies, and procedures.

(3) General direction

  • Employee independently performs all assignments using knowledge of established policies and work objectives.
  • Employee plans and organizes the work and assists in determining priorities and deadlines. May deviate from standard work methods, guidelines, or procedures in order to meet work objectives.
  • Employee exercises independent decision-making authority and discretion to decide which work methods to use, tasks to perform, and procedures to follow to meet work objectives.
  • Completed work is reviewed for effectiveness in producing expected results.

(4) Administrative direction

  • Employee works independently within the scope and context of rules, regulations, and employer objectives.
  • Employee independently plans, designs, and carries out programs, projects, and studies in accordance with broad policy statements or legal requirements.
  • Employee exercises independent decision-making authority for determining work objectives and goals to be accomplished.
  • Completed work is reviewed for compliance with laws and regulations and adherence to program goals, objectives, budgetary limitations, and general employer policies.

Supervisor: An employee who is assigned responsibility by management to participate in all of the following functions with respect to their subordinate employees:

  • Selecting staff
  • Training and development
  • Planning and assignment of work
  • Evaluating performance
  • Resolving grievances
  • Taking corrective action

Participation in these functions is not routine and requires the exercise of individual judgment.

Technical: See Nature of Work.

Trades: See Nature of Work.

Washington General Service (WGS): A system of personnel administration that applies to classified employees or positions under the jurisdiction of chapter 41.06 RCW which do not meet the definition of manager found in RCW 41.06.022.

Work Methods: Techniques for performing tasks including the sequence of steps to accomplish a desired outcome.