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Commonwealth Careers

What is State Government?

The Executive Branch of state government, carries out the laws and is headed by the governor.

Within the Executive Branch, there are a number of agencies responsible for this task. These agencies consists of cabinets, departments, offices, boards and commissions. The majority are grouped into one of the following ten program cabinets: Transportation, Economic Development, Finance and Administration, Tourism, Arts, and Heritage, Education and Labor, Health and Family Services, Justice and Public Safety, Personnel, Energy and Environment, and Public Protection. The General Government Cabinet houses the departments, offices, boards, and commissions not belonging to a program cabinet.

Most Executive Branch employment positions are covered by one of the three personnel systems: Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) Chapter 18A, KRS Chapter 16, and the Career and Technical System. The vast majority fall within KRS Chapter 18A classified service, also known as the merit system. Positions outside of the classified service/merit system are in the unclassified service.

The Personnel Cabinet and the Personnel Board administer and enforce the merit system as codified in KRS Chapter 18A and in various administrative regulations. This website is made available by the Personnel Cabinet to educate the public on employment processes and opportunities available within the Executive Branch of Kentucky state government, with an emphasis on the classified service/merit system.​

Click here to view Executive Branch organizational charts.​


Types of Employment

The merit system is used by the Executive Branch and emphasizes making personnel decisions (hiring, promoting, assigning work, and other matters) based on an individual's qualifications and performance. The merit system also protects state employees with merit system status* against arbitrary actions and discriminatory practices.  

In order for an agency to fill a classified/merit system position vacancy, it must be advertised for a minimum of five days, as follows:​

  • -Competitive vacancies are advertised on the Personnel Cabinet's Careers website competitively. This means that these position vacancies are open to all candidates; anyone who meets minimum requirements may apply to competitive job postings. ​

  • -Promotional vacancies are advertised internally thru the Personnel Cabinet's talent management system, MyPURPOSE. This means that these position vacancies are only open to current state employees with merit status*, also known as internal mobility candidates. External candidates (not current state employees), may not apply and cannot be considered. Note: Part-time employees with merit status* are only eligible to be considered for part-time internal mobility vacancies.

Candidates applying to either type of advertisement create what is called a register. Agencies use the register to review candidates, initiating certain Personnel Cabinet processes required by the merit system hiring procedure, to ensure the candidates meet the minimum requirements for the position/job classification.

*Merit system employees serve a probationary period when they begin working for the state. Usually, the probationary period lasts six months, but may be as long as twelve months depending on the job classification. When the probationary period is over, employees gain merit system “status" which gives employees certain additional rights and privileges.

Federally Funded Time-Limited (FFTL), interim, non-merit/unclassified and employees on initial probation do not have merit status and therefore are not eligible to be considered for promotional job advertisements.​

Non-merit or unclassified service includes positions not under the merit system hiring procedure and generally includes the staffs of the governor and lieutenant governor, policy-making managers, and agency leaders. (See KRS 18A.115.) These positions have no formal selection criteria, are not appointed from a register, do not have a set salary schedule for formal job class specification.  Employees in these positions may be terminated 'without notice of cause' with limited appeal rights.   Vacancies may be posted on the Personnel Cabinet's Careers website but are not required to be advertised.

Types of unclassified/non-merit positions include:

  • Federally Funded Time-Limited (FFTL) positions are funded 100% by federal grant(s).  Any candidate who meets the minimum requirements may be appointed, but must provide a resume to the hiring agency or apply if the position is posted.

  • Grant Funded Time-Limited (GFTL) positions are similar to FFTL positions, with the central distinction being a difference from where the funds are obtained and the means by which they are obtained (grants versus regular government dispersion). Also, GFTL positions are limited for use by the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, whereas FFTL positions may be used by any agency. 

  • An Interim vacancy, or temporary position, lasts less than 9 months. This type of employment opportunity may exist throughout the state and can be advertised at any time. Typically, these positions become available in spring and summer primarily in state parks. Interim positions may be posted on the Personnel Cabinet's Careers website but are not required to be advertised.  Applicants may reach out directly to an office or agency when looking for an interim position.  

  • A Co-op/Intern posting represents a recruitment tool for the Kentucky Co-op/Intern Program and is not necessarily an advertisement for an actual vacancy. The program serves as a way for Kentucky students to obtain practical on-the-job experience and academic credit as part of their education. ​

While the vast majority of jobs within the Executive Branch of Kentucky state government are covered under the classified service/merit system, there are certain positions in state agencies not covered by KRS Chapter 18A; therefore, not subject to the rules governing the merit system. You can find more information about some of these employment opportunities within and outside of the Executive Branch by accessing the websites of the state agencies listed below:

Executive Branch
Ke​ntu​cky Historical Society
Kentucky Educational Television (KET)
Kentucky Exposition Center

Judicial Branch
Legislative Branch

​Kentucky Career Center
Employment opportunities through the Kentucky Career Center can be found on Focuscareer.ky.gov. For information about Kentucky Career Centers go to http://kcc.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx

​Kentucky Works
Employment opportunities through Kentucky Works can be found on http://www.kentuckyworks.com/

​​​​*The Salary Schedule and Job Class Specifications linked above​ are only applicable to executive branch employees. For judicial and legislative branch employees, please contact your Human Resources Administrator.
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