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State of California Veterans' Preference

What is Veterans' Preference

Veterans' Preference for California State jobs provide an advantage to eligible veterans in the hiring process. Veterans who take and pass an exam will automatically get placed in the top rank.

It doesn’t apply to every exam in California state service, however, and is only applied to exams that are considered entry-level. It would apply to the Staff Services Analyst (SSA) classification, for example, but not for Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA). The SSA class is considered the entry class for analytical jobs and Veterans' Preference can be applied.

Applicants should check the exam posting and or bulletin for each classification. It will clearly state whether Veterans’ Preference can be used for the exam. Veterans should still take all exams they're interested in, but be aware that you may not receive preference points for all of them.

So, how is this an advantage for veterans? For most classifications in state civil service, there is something called the “rule of 3 ranks.” This means that departments are only allowed to hire individuals from the top 3 ranks of an eligibility list. If, for example, someone takes an exam and gets a score that corresponds to the 4th rank of a list, they would not be eligible to be appointed to a position. However, if a veteran scores in the 4th rank for a classification (or any other passing rank), they would be bumped up to the first rank, making them eligible for appointment.

Being in the first rank doesn’t mean you are automatically selected for a position, though. You’ll still have to go through the normal hiring process of submitting a state application and additional hiring documents, attending an interview and passing any pre-employment clearances that may be required.

When you are in the first rank on an eligible list for a classification, departments will contact you any time they post a job. When they contact you, it is usually by letter or email. If you're not interested in the position, you don't have to apply. It won't impact your Veterans' Preference status.

How to Apply for Veterans Preference

  1. Applicants will need a copy of an official discharge document like a DD214. It must show enlistment and discharge dates, social security number and the amount of time spent in active service.
  2. Spouses of deceased or 100% disabled veterans will need to submit a marriage certificate as well as their spouse’s discharge paperwork.
  3. Double-check the requirements download the Veterans' Preference form here. Your completed form is mailed to CalHR at:
California Department of Human Resources
Veterans Preference Coordinator
1515 S Street, North Bldg., Suite 500
Sacramento, CA 95811


  1. If you were dishonorably discharged, you are not eligible for Veterans Preference.
  2. Veterans Preference only applies when entering state service for the first time. After you are hired and pass probation, you are considered a permanent civil service employee and will no longer be able to use Veterans Preference.
  3. If you’ve ever been fired from California state service, you will no longer be eligible for Veterans Preference.
  4. If you are the spouse of a 100% disabled veteran (as declared by the US Veterans’ Administration), you are also entitled to Veterans Preference. If you are a widow/widower of a deceased veteran, you are entitled to Veterans Preference.

Additional Veterans Preference Resources

  1. CalHR has the following information: Veterans Information. It's one of the many important sites to know in the State of California hiring process.
  2. The 2 California Government Codes that establish and define Veterans Preference are 18973.1 and 18973.5.

Definition of “Veteran”

How is Veteran defined? The State defines a qualified veteran as:

"...any person who has served full time for 30 days or more in the armed forces in time of war or in time of peace in a campaign or expedition for service in which a medal has been authorized by the Government of the United States, or during the period September 16, 1940 to January 31, 1955, or who has served at least 181 consecutive days since January 31, 1955, and who has been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable, but does not include any person who served only in auxiliary or reserve components of the armed forces whose service therein did not exempt him or her from the operation of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940."

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