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FEMA Qualification System

This page is for FEMA employees and provides an overview and guides on the performance-based qualification system.


The FEMA Qualification System is a performance-based qualification system that gives employees the opportunity to demonstrate and document their knowledge and skills in specific incident management positions. The qualification system standardizes the qualifications for positions across the Agency so that an employee who is qualified to perform in a given disaster position in one FEMA region will be prepared to perform in the same position in another region.

Similar to on-the-job training, performance-based training is incident-related training that demonstrates the employee’s knowledge, skills and actual performance. Paired with a coach-evaluator, employees learn their job and gain experience as documented in the position task book for the specific position. Depending on the task, evaluation can be at a disaster, incident, or scheduled exercise.


Advancement Process from Trainee/Candidate to Qualified

FQS has three ratings – Trainee, Candidate and Qualified.

  1. Trainee: an individual who has been issued a position task book for the first time. A trainee does not hold any FEMA Qualification System qualification.
  2. Qualified: an individual who has completed the process for qualification and has received a certification letter from his or her Certifying Authority.
  3. Candidate: an individual who holds a FEMA Qualification System qualification and who also has been selected by the Certifying Official to pursue an additional FEMA Qualification System title. The individual is both qualified at the previously held position(s) and a candidate for another.

Trainees will deploy to incidents in their trainee position while candidates will be deployed in their currently qualified position. It is important to note, evaluation opportunities will be dependent on mission requirements, coach-evaluator availability and field supervisor approval.

Steps to move from Trainee/Candidate to Qualified

  1. The cadre’s Coordinating Official issues a Position Task Book and Qualification Sheet to an employee that details the experience, training, and performance required for the position.
  2. The employee meets the minimum FEMA Qualification System experience required for a Trainee/Candidate in the  incident management position by deploying.
  3. The employee's work performance during disaster response and recovery activities is assessed by a Certified Coach-Evaluator and documented in the Position Task Book.
  4. The employee completes all required training for the position listed on the position qualification sheet.
  5. The employee submits an Employee Request Form and supporting documentation such as the completed Position Task Book, transcript of required training, and deployment records, to be considered for certification as qualified in the position.
  6. The employee's Cadre Coordinator submits the completed qualifications package for review by the Certifying Official or by the Qualification Review Board.
  7. The cadre’s Certifying Official evaluates the package and provides a recommendation to the Certifying Authority. For supervisory positions, the Qualifications Review Board evaluates the completed package and makes a recommendation to the cadre’s Certifying Authority.
  8. The Certifying Authority makes the final determination for certification and provides information for employee notification of the decision.

Importance of the Position Task Book

FEMA uses electronic Position Task Books (PTBs) as a tool to establish, track, and update FEMA Qualification System (FQS) qualification metrics for the Agency. PTBs list and track employees’ demonstrated performance and training requirements for FQS positions, and the Deployment Tracking System (DTS) tracks progress toward PTB completion. It is the employee’s responsibility to proactively complete the requirements in their PTB. As a performance-based system, FQS depends on the Coach and Evaluator program for providing the individual coaching of employees working on their PTBs and for verifying demonstrated performance through structured evaluations. Only employees with the Coach and Evaluator designation in the Deployment Tracking System can record an employee's successful completion of required task performance in the Position Task Book.

There are 3 primary requirements to receive and maintain the Coach and Evaluator designation in the Deployment Tracking System:

1. Coach and Evaluator Nomination:

  • Cadre Management identifies and approves responders prior to attending the training course. All approved responders must have prior disaster experience and hold a qualified Position Task Book.

2. FOD0823 Coach and Evaluator Qualification Course:

  • All potential Coach and Evaluators must successfully complete FOD0823 Coach and Evaluator Course in order to hold the Coach and Evaluator designation in the Deployment Tracking System. 

3. Coach and Evaluator Sustainment:

  • All C&Es are required to maintain the designation in the Deployment Tracking System by participating in biennial (every 2 years) sustainment training, maintaining their working knowledge of all qualified positions, and receiving external assessments.

In addition to being the record of evaluation, the task books also serve as a job aid to assist employees in the performance of their duties.

Current FEMA employees seeking more information about the FEMA Qualification System can email or call toll free at 855- FQS-FEMA (855-377-3362) Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST.

Last Updated: 
04/22/2020 - 08:08