Updating Position Descriptions – Recommended Practices

The following are recommended practices to follow when reviewing and updating position
descriptions (PDs) for Texas A&M non-faculty employees using the PATH (Portal Access for
Total HR) System.

Overview of Update Process

  • Updates can be done at any time of year but usually are completed prior to or during the annual performance evaluation period, or prior to creating a posting.
  • Updates for non-faculty positions should be completed online using the PATH (Portal Access for Total HR) System. Auditors rely on the online system for the most current PD for a non-faculty position in a Texas A&M department.
  • Updates are typically started by a position's hiring supervisor or the departmental Human Resources (HR) Liaison. Alternately, a supervisor may request that an employee begin the update and route to the supervisor. Consult your departmental HR Liaison for guidance on the review and approval process for PD updates in your department.
  • Following appropriate online routing within a department, the PD update should be submitted to HR for review and approval.
  • HR reviews and approves updates as soon as possible, with the response time for approval varying from 1-5 business days depending on volume. The heaviest volume occurs during April and May due to the annual performance evaluation period, so response time may extend beyond 5 business days during those months.
  • Pending updates must be approved by HR before posting a job, so it is recommended that departments submit updates and receive approval prior to submitting a posting.
  • HR recommends that departments submit PD updates early in the performance evaluation period, so that the most current PD will be included with the online evaluation.

Tips for Reviewing and Editing the Position Description

Position Details

  • Data such as position title and title code, employee name and UIN originate from the Budget/Payroll/Personnel (BPP) system and are not editable. The information is automatically updated on weekly basis. The updates include data from the active budget as of close of business every Thursday and are visible to online system users by Monday morning.
  • Use the "click here" links within most fields of the online PD for more details and instructions.


  • Required qualifications are the minimum qualifications of education, experience, license/certification, and knowledge, skills and abilities for acceptable performance of the essential functions of the job upon hire.

    • System Wide Pay Plan titles all have minimum required education and experience set which may be modified slightly to reflect specific types of education (such as a Bachelor of Science in Biology) and experience, so long as the level of education and quantity of experience remain consistent with those required by the pay plan and are related to the job performed. For more information on these requirements, please contact the Classification and Compensation Office at 845-4170.
    • Required education and experience may not be modified for career ladder positions. The only exceptions would be for the IT Professional Career Ladder; for these positions, the only change allowed is to replace "relevant experience" with the specific experience required for the position.
  • Preferred Qualifications are the secondary qualifications that you would prefer in an applicant/employee, but are not required for performance of the essential functions.
  • The General Summary field should be no longer than four sentences. It is intended to be a brief general summary of the position and should be consistent with and reflective of the more detailed duties sections, giving an overview of the level of skill required and scope of responsibility. Detailed duties or responsibilities should be included in the Job Duties section, not the General Summary. Use the following format for the first sentence of the General Summary: "The [insert position title] is responsible for…"

Job Duties

  • There is not a set requirement for the number of duties sections, but a general guideline is that most positions can be appropriately described in 3 to 10 sections of duties. Depending on the position and variety/nature of the duties being performed, it may be necessary to divide the duties into more than 10 sections. Any one duty can have several components to help identify the level and scope of the duty being performed, and therefore identifying the level of the position.
  • Duties should be grouped into logical sections, with assigned percentages of time for each section of 5% to 35%. Typically, the minimum percentage of time allocated to any one section is 5%. The recommended maximum percentage is 35%, but for some positions HR may allow percentages as high as 75%. The total for all duties should total 100%.
  • A "Duty Title" is required and is used to describe each section of duties. Examples of some commonly-used duty titles include: supervisory, customer service, program/project coordination, administrative support, business support, recruiting, scheduling, professional development, management and training, and other duties.
  • Duties must be designated as essential or non-essential in the position description, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act As Amended (ADAAA). Essential duties are the core tasks that must be completed to get the job done. Non-essential duties are the occasional duties that are performed as needed. As a general guideline, total non-essential duties will rarely comprise more than 10% of the job.
  • Writing guidelines for describing duties:
    • Begin each statement with a present tense action verb. Examples of action verbs can be found here.
    • Use clear, concise language.
    • Use words that differentiate levels of the same job title series generally denoting experience, creativity, education or training.
    • Avoid using adjectives. Adjectives tend to give extra detail to nouns and may be unnecessary.
    • List specific essential functions.
      • Use "Duty Title" description to identify duty component groupings.
      • Include level of independent judgment and work complexity involved in each duty/component, and supervisory responsibilities.
    • Always include one job duty for "performs other duties as assigned." This job duty should be no more than 5% of time and is non-essential.

Helpful Links and Resources

  • Click here for step-by-step instructions, training videos and workflow charts for the PATH (Portal Access for Total HR) System.
  • Recommended online course in TrainTraq is course number 11008, titled "Position Descriptions."