Exam Bulletin - Communications Operator (1670)

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Exam Code: EX-1925

Examination Plans Included:


Final Filing Date: Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Classification Details

COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR: $4,508.00 - $7,023.00 per Month

View the COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR classification specification.

Application Instructions

This examination is administered on a continuous basis with cutoff dates every six (6) months. Please see the cutoff dates below for FY 24 - 25: 

*If your application is received after the cutoff date, it will be retained and considered for the next examination administration.

Upcoming Filing Cutoff Dates:

  • 9/30/2024
  • 3/30/2025

Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) must be received or postmarked by the filing date indicated above. Applications postmarked, personally delivered or received via interoffice mail after the filing date will be processed in the next group.

Dates printed on Mobile Bar Codes, such as the Quick Response (QR) Codes available at the USPS, are not considered Postmark dates for the purpose of determining timely filing of an application.

If using the United States Postal Service (USPS) for delivery, there is no guarantee that your application will be postmarked and arrive by the final filing date. If your application does not have a postmark and arrives after the final filing date, your application may not be accepted into the examination. Therefore, to ensure timely delivery of your application, it is recommended that you use either parcel service, or certified mail. Using one of these options will provide proof the application was sent prior to the final filing date.

Who Should Apply:

The information below will help you determine which classification(s) is(are) appropriate for you. Applicants must meet the Minimum Qualifications as stated on this bulletin to compete in this examination.

Open and Open, Non-Promotional Examination(s):


Please Note:

  • All applicants MUST meet the education and/or experience requirements by the cutoff date in order to be considered for that administration.
  • Applicants who have not passed probation in this classification are encouraged to apply.

For all Classifications, once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 6 months:

Exam Code(s):


For COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR, once you have participated in any of the following examinations, you may not recompete for 6 months:

Exam Code(s):

  • EX-01925

How To Apply:

Submit an Examination/Employment Application (STD 678) to apply for this examination.

Electronic applications can be submitted through your account at www.CalCareers.ca.gov.

You may apply by mail to:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Court
    West Sacramento, CA 95605

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678).

You may drop off your application and any applicable or required documents at:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
    Attention: Examination Unit
    710 Riverpoint Court
    West Sacramento, CA 95605
    8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Indicate the Examination Code and Classification(s) on your Examination/Employment Application (STD 678). All applicants must provide proof of identification. Accepted forms of identification are: 1) a photo identification card or 2) two forms of signed identification.

Please note the following:

1.) A State Application (STD 678) is REQUIRED and must be submitted.

2.) The Communications Operator Supplemental Questionnaire is REQUIRED and must also be submitted. This document specifies the percentage of time spent per week performing duties involving direct and telephone contact with the public. Copy and past this link into your browser to obtain this form: 
B57DD9BAB162447FA43AA4B091F6A062 (ca.gov)

3). All applicants must include "from" and "to" employment dates (month/day/year), time base, and applicable civil service class titles on their STD 678. 
Applications received without this information may be rejected.


Special Testing Arrangements:

If you require assistance or alternative testing arrangements due to a disability, indicate on your application that you need reasonable accommodation. You will be contacted by a representative of the testing department to make the necessary arrangements. If you have not been contacted by the time you receive notification of testing, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

If you are unable to submit your application or complete the test due to a disability, please contact the testing department listed in the Contact section of this bulletin.

Minimum Qualifications

All applicants must meet the education and/or experience requirements as stated on this exam bulletin to be accepted to the examination.


Education: Equivalent to completion of the 12th grade, AND


Six months of experience in the California state service performing the duties of a Dispatcher-Clerk,


Experience: One year of experience in dispatching work involving the operation of radio communications equipment/systems,


Experience: Two years of experience involving a substantial amount of direct and telephone contact with the public and the responsibility to perform numerous tasks simultaneously.

NOTE: Applicants MUST submit the Communications Operator Supplemental Questionnaire (see information above regarding this form) with their State Application STD 678.


Existing law requires that a thorough background investigation shall be conducted to verify the absence of past behavior indicative of unsuitability to perform public safety dispatcher duties. The background investigation shall include a check of Department of Motor Vehicles' records, and a search of local, State, and national criminal history files to disclose any criminal record. Persons unsuccessful in the investigation cannot be appointed to the Communications Operator series.

Existing law requires that a medical examination shall be conducted to verify the absence of any medical condition which would preclude the safe and efficient performance of dispatcher duties. Persons unsuccessful in the medical exam cannot be appointed to the Communications Operator series.

Penal Code Section 13510(c) requires that State agencies participating in the P.O.S.T. program shall evaluate oral communication skills to ensure skill levels commensurate with the satisfactory performance of dispatch duties.

Penal Code Section 13510(c) requires that State agencies participating in the P.O.S.T. program shall require that the P.O.S.T. Public Safety Dispatcher's Basic Course be the minimum basic training for all public safety dispatchers in the program. The course shall be completed within 12 months of hire or assignment to dispatcher duties. Failure to successfully complete the course shall be cause for termination based on failure to meet the required conditions of employment.

Position Description


This is the entry, working, and journey level for this series. Employees work under general supervision in a Communications Center following established policies and procedures to perform a variety of duties. Duties include operating multifrequency/channel radio telephone systems and computer-aided transmitting and receiving equipment to receive calls from field units, telephones, or other sources; filling out dispatch logs or typing entries into computer terminals; receiving and transmitting reports of incidents and requests for assistance; answering telephone requests for information; relaying calls for emergency services vehicles, other law enforcement agencies, or other assistance requested by field units.

At the full journey level, employees work under direction and perform all the above and select receivers and transmitters and adjust volume controls; dispatch units or other equipment to specific points as required; provide information as requested or required by officers in the field; and act as a lead person.


Consistently report to work with a minimum of absences; willingness to work on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays at odd or irregular hours and night shifts; voice well modulated for radio transmission and clear enunciation; emotional stability; hearing necessary to perform the duties of the position; and a satisfactory record as a law-abiding citizen.

Examination Information

This examination consists of the following component(s):

Component OrderComponent TypeComponent DuePercentage of Final Score

A final score of 70% must be attained to be placed on the eligible list.


The performance examination consists of a computer-based test of multi-tasking ability under stress using CRITICALL.

Helpful information about CritiCall can be found on the CritiCall Test Descriptions website -
(Copy and paste this link into your browser to access the site)

Candidates will be provided (via email): CritiCall test link

Candidates will need the following: RELIABLE Access to internet, Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers/Headphones.

*More information regarding the examination will be sent to the email address provided on your application.

Please ensure that the email address you provide is correct and easily accessible!



Accepted applicants are required to have a Keyboard, Mouse, Speaker/headphone, and access to the internet to take this examination. Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are compatible web browsers. 

The CritiCall test link will NOT work with any mobile device running on a mobile operating system (Android or IOS). 

Notice to Safari Users: Audio and video does not play automatically.

In addition to evaluating the applicant's relative knowledge, skill and ability as demonstrated by quality and breadth of education/experience, emphasis in each test component will be on measuring competitively, relative to job demands, each applicant's:

Knowledge of:

  1. Active listening techniques to obtain accurate and detailed information.
  2. The use of computers for entering information into a database, generating documents, and communicating with others.
  3. The structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar to effectively convey information.
  4. The geography of California to identify the location of topography, main highways, counties, and principle cities.
  5. Alphanumeric sequences to input pertinent information.
  6. Basic arithmetic.

Skill to:

  1. Deal effectively and appropriately with frustrated, angry, or otherwise emotional persons over the telephone, radio, and in the workplace to obtain pertinent information.
  2. Effectively convey information verbally to relay information to appropriate parties.
  3. Exercise tact, courtesy, and patience in all contacts to maintain professional relationships.
  4. Read maps quickly and accurately to ensure precise dispatching and monitoring.
  5. Effectively convey written information in English at a 12th grade level or equivalent to produce work product.
  6. Use a computer to search the internet and/or database(s) to obtain necessary information needed for an effective job performance.
  7. Communicate in writing in a manner that is mindful of the needs of the audience for effective correspondence.
  8. Use various computer software and applications to convey information to others.
  9. Type 40 words per minute accurately using a keyboard to complete work in a timely manner. 
  10. Use computer to create documents in Microsoft Office. 

Ability to:

  1. Perform multiple tasks simultaneously or in rapid sequence to operate and monitor a multitude of radio frequencies and a variety of highly technical communication systems and equipment.
  2. Maintain composure under stress to exercise sound judgement in situations with a high consequence of error.
  3. Shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information to conduct research, think critically, and multitask.
  4. Enunciate clearly using a well-modulated voice for radio transmission.
  5. Hear and identify the content of phone and radio transmissions in the presence of significant background noise.
  6. Recognize when assistance is needed to know when to ask for support.
  7. Work cooperatively with supervisors, peers, cooperators, and the general public to maintain good relationships with the Department.
  8. Work independently with minimal supervision to be effective in a rapidly changing environment.
  9. Reprioritize urgent assignments with short notice when new assignments are given.
  10. Follow instructions precisely for an effective job performance.
  11. Employ active listening to attain a more complete and accurate accounting of events by giving full attention to what other people are saying and voicing follow-up questions at appropriate times.
  12. Work for long periods of time to ensure continuity of communication functions.
  13. Think and act independently in order to react confidently, decisively, and   quickly in emergency and non-emergency situations.
  14. Function in a highly structured chain of command environment for a successful job performance.
  15. Evaluate the content of a narrative or report to discern critical information from incoming calls.
  16. Recognize the implications of new information to understand its impact on both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  17. Read written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents to determine their content.
  18. Recall a variety of situations and retain accurate information to a level sufficient to document that information into the appropriate system of record.
  19. Adapt to changing work patterns to satisfy existing job needs.
  20. Recognize when something is wrong or likely to go wrong in order to prevent problems.
  21. Type quickly and accurately for an effective job performance.
  22. Complete work tasks thoroughly and with attention to detail to ensure accuracy.
  23. Reduce complicated information to simple, understandable language and explain it to others.
  24. Concentrate on a task over a period of time in order to complete high-priority tasks without distractions
  25. Remain fair and unbiased when applying local, state, and federal laws, or department policies and procedures.
  26. Utilize effective time management to prioritize workload.
  27. Sit for long periods of time to perform job duties.
  28. Identify complex problems and review related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  29. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives to reach better solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  30. Adjust future actions to adapt to the needs, expectations, or actions of others.
  31. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  32. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions.
  33. Think critically about alternatives by using logic and reasoning to judge the relative costs and benefits of potential actions.
  34. Identify problems or issues which impact the progress of work projects or assignments.
  35. Compare the similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns to come to a conclusion.


Eligible List Information

A Departmental Open eligible list for the COMMUNICATIONS OPERATOR Classification will be established for:

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

The names of successful competitors will be merged onto the eligible list(s) in order of final score regardless of test date. Eligibility expires 12 months after it is established. Applicants must then retake the examination to reestablish eligibility.

Resulting Eligibility List(s) will be used to fill vacancies throughout the State of California.

Successful candidates from this administration will be merged onto the current, existing eligibility list for the Communications Operator classification. Candidates’ list eligibility is guaranteed for a minimum of 12 months, but may be extended up to 48 months, depending on the needs of the Department.

It is recommended candidates apply for this examination if one or more of the following is true:

• You are a Limited Term (LT) hire.
• You have not yet passed probation.
• You are a Temporary Appointment (TAU) hire.
• You are not on the current eligibility list.

Veterans' Preference will be granted for this examination. Veterans' Preference is an assistance program for veterans, veteran widows and widowers, and spouses of 100% disabled veterans who seek employment with the state. Veterans' Preference is also extended to currently serving military members nearing their retirement or separation date.

You are not eligible for Veteran's Preference if you are:

  • A veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released.
  • A veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran who currently has permanent civil service status. (Permanent civil service status is the status of an employee who is lawfully retained in his/her position after completion of the applicable probationary period. This does not include limited term).

Veterans' Preference is codified in Government Code Sections 18973 – 18979.

Veteran status is verified by the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). Directions to apply for Veterans' Preference are on the Veterans' Preference Application (Std. Form 1093), which is available at www.CalCareers.ca.gov, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Career Credits are not granted for examination(s) administered on an Open basis or a Promotional basis.

Testing Departments

  • Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

Contact Information

Questions regarding this examination should be directed to:

CAL FIRE Examination Unit
710 Riverpoint Court
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9850

CAL FIRE Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator
710 Riverpoint Court
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Phone: (916) 894-9570 ext. Option 3

California Relay Service: 1-800-735-2929 (TTY), 1-800-735-2922 (Voice). TTY is a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, and is reachable only from phones equipped with a TTY Device.

Equal Opportunity Employer

The State of California is an equal opportunity employer to all, regardless of age, ancestry, color, disability (mental and physical), exercising the right to family care and medical leave, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military or veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religious creed, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), and sexual orientation.

Drug Free Statement

It is an objective of the State of California to achieve a drug-free State work place. Any applicant for State employment will be expected to behave in accordance with this objective, because the use of illegal drugs is inconsistent with the law of the State, the rules governing civil service, and the special trust placed in public servants.

General Information

Examination and/or Employment Application (STD 678) forms are available at the California Department of Human Resources, local offices of the Employment Development Department, and through your CalCareer Account (www.CalCareers.ca.gov).

If you meet the requirements stated on this examination bulletin, you may take this examination, which is competitive. Possession of the entrance requirements does not assure a place on the eligible list. Your performance in the examination described in this bulletin will be rated against a predetermined job-related rating, and all applicants who pass will be ranked according to their scores.

Department of Forestry & Fire Protection reserves the right to revise the examination plan to better meet the needs of the service, if the circumstances under which this examination was planned change. Such revision will be in accordance with civil service laws and rules and all applicants will be notified.

General Qualifications: Applicants must possess essential personal qualifications including integrity, initiative, dependability, good judgment, the ability to work cooperatively with others, and a state of health consistent with the ability to perform the assigned duties of the class. A medical examination may be required. In open examinations, investigation may be made of employment records and personal history and fingerprinting may be required.

Eligible Lists: Eligible lists established by competitive examination, regardless of date, must be used in the following order: 1) sub-divisional promotional, 2) departmental promotional, 3) multi-departmental promotional, 4) service-wide promotional, 5) departmental open, 6) open. When there are two lists of the same kind, the older must be used first. Eligible lists will expire in one to four years unless otherwise stated on the bulletin.

High School Equivalence: Equivalence to completion of the 12th grade may be demonstrated in any one of the following ways: 1) passing the General Education Development (GED) Test; 2) completion of 12 semester units of college-level work; 3) certification from the State Department of Education, a local school board, or high school authorities that the competitor is considered to have education equivalent to graduation from high school; or 4) for clerical and accounting classes, substitution of business college work in place of high school on a year-for-year basis.

Accepted applicants must provide proof of identification at each in-person test session. Acceptable identification consists of a photo identification card or two forms of signed identification.

Application Methods:
Electronic (Your CalCareer Account)
By Mail
In Person (see bulletin for details)
Alternate Application Process

While we recommend that you utilize your CalCareer Account to take advantage of all the tools available, you may choose to apply for this examination without using your account. In this case, print and complete the Exam Application Package Checklist and include it if you submit a hard copy application.

Exam Application Package Checklist

Blank Application Form (STD678)

Accommodation Request (STD679)