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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

The FEMA Position Task Book contains all the critical behaviors, activities, and tasks required to become qualified in a FEMA incident management position. The task book also serves as the official record of the employee's evaluation and training. Only employees in the Certified Coach-Evaluator role will record an employee's successful completion of required training and task performance in the task book.

There are three requirements to be a Certified Coach-Evaluator:

  1. Qualified in the position they are evaluating as a primary or subordinate title
  2. Complete the required coach-evaluator training
    • E/L/B/K 823 - FEMA Qualification System Coach-evaluator and
    • IS 207 - Overview of the FEMA Qualification System and Qualification Review Boards
  3. Approved by the cadre leadership to be an Coach-Evaluator

In addition to being the record of evaluation, the task books also serve as a checklist for recertification and 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: 
12/10/2015 - 10:07