fema job requirements

Last Updated on 12/27/2023

TV coverage of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, and many other natural or humanmade disasters often shows workers with FEMA jackets helping victims. So, at least once in your life, you saw or heard about this organization.

But did you ever have a chance to delve deeper into this topic? What does this agency do, how do they work, who are these people in FEMA uniform, and how hard to get hired?

In 2003 FEMA became a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). And for today, this organization has more than 11 thousand workers throughout the country and its headquarters, including the National Emergency Training Center, Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center, and its ten regional offices.

Due to the tight selection for each workplace, many people believe that getting hired at FEMA is almost unreal. But nothing is impossible! Keep reading to find out all the FEMA career details.

What is FEMA? 

Before moving to the central issue of FEMA employment opportunities, let’s look at the “What is FEMA” question and learn a little more about its history. 

According to official data, the federal emergency management agency was created in the 1979 year (more than 40 years ago). The mission of FEMA was and remains unchanged: to decrease the loss of property and life, defend national institutions from all dangers by managing and supporting the government and people in a risk-based emergency administration program of preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. 


Does this mean that working for FEMA is the same as being a superhero? It does! Because since the year of its foundation, FEMA remains the leading agency within the national government for responding and recovering from disasters.

For today, FEMA has provided support for more than 1,900 incidents in the country. It is serving the nation coordinating efforts and extensive resources with any number of federal, local, and even tribal partners. It also provides support to the nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. If legal federal assistance resources are exhausted, FEMA partners with the Department of Defense (DoD) for additional ones.

How to Work for FEMA?

FEMA directs its forces to secure the best allocation of resources, human supplies, and funds. Here are the 3 most significant departments you can work for FEMA:

Response and Recovery

The Office of the Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery (ORR) was combined with Logistics Management, Response, and Recovery Directorates. This way, the ORR accepts all requests for crisis declarations and significant disasters in acquiescence with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Also, it provides direction, guidance to build, sustain, and enhance the coordination and transfer of support, manages several DEMA’s primary operational components, which cover: 

  • Logistics Management Directorate;
  • Response Directorate;
  • Recovery Directorate;
  • Field Operations Directorate;
  • Office of the Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery (Executive Staff, Doctrine and Policy Office and Business Management Office).

Assessment and Readiness 

FEMA created the Readiness and Assessment office in the 2010 year. FEMA administrator and agency leaders of this department warrant and inform the overall level of readiness of response and recovery teams for one or another disaster. Roughly speaking, they are always responsible for the preparedness of the rescue teams. 

Other employees are researching future disasters to predict their probability and perform preliminary training. They also collaborate with different research centers and universities, which studying natural hazards. 

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Logistics Management Directorate

This directorate (now a part of the Response and Recovery Office) requires special attention. Official FEMA website gives clear descriptions of its mission:

  • deliver the appropriate logistics support, to the right area, at the fastest period (to stabilize society lifelines);
  • facilitate the suitable reconstruction and operationalizing of private sector supply connections, businesses, and infrastructure (to secure community lifelines).

In other words, the directorate implies a responsibility for logistics support, performance, standards, and operations with policy guidance. LMD also oversees the General Services Administration and Resource Support. Many experts are sure that this department provides the safest, but at the same time, highly responsible jobs at FEMA. 

FEMA Job Opportunities

Jobs with FEMA have a broad arrangement of specialists, so many career paths can be pursued, including:

Permanent full-time positions. All permanent, full-time FEMA workers are hired through a competitive process that includes an application with resume, cover letter, and interview. 

We usually call such positions as career jobs. The first year of work at any role is considered a probationary period. After undergoing training, obtaining certificates, an annual probationary period, and 3 years of working experience (in the same position), an employee can finally receive a competitive salary. Here are some official examples: 

  • Financial Analyst has the beginning wage of $105,120 per year. The person responsible for this role coordinates, controls, and analyzes the budget FEMA requirements. They often assist in various high-level committees.
  • Electronic Engineer builds security systems and provides support for different electronic communications projects. They have an annual salary of $56,800 at the beginning of a FEMA career.
  • Flood Insurance Senior Advisor annually receives about $119, 500. Mostly, he/she is responsible for managing the network system and software security of the Flood Insurance Program.

On-call response and recovery positions. Also, may be called CORE Jobs. This is the largest FEMA program that includes 23 cadres in Logistics, Public Assistance (PA), and Individual Assistance (IA) areas. These jobs at FEMA imply 2 – 4 years of full-positioned employment with the renewable term if it is required by ongoing disaster work and funding volume. The deployable Incident Management (IM) CORE workers are hired directly in positions required by an emergency situation. Though some specific positions, such as Action Officers or Program Analysts, are typically renewed unless there’s a need in the recovery of a disaster, they never can turn into permanent full-time positions, as an employee must go through each competitive part of the hiring process again.

Here are some examples of CORE Jobs:

  • Reporter and writer have the same salary of $51,000 at the career start. Both are responsible for managing the media, creating and adapting web content, and reporting from the scene.
  • Public Affairs Specialist is responsible for the announcement of FEMA disaster news to media and the worldwide public. The annual salary corresponds to the reporter, writer, and other same level media jobs at FEMA. It is a great option to get journalistic practice, which will look advantageous in any resume.

Reservists positions. Most of the reservists take 2-year federal emergency management agency jobs. Typically, the agency is eager to renew its contracts to let FEMA respond to crises and disasters. They are FEMA’s reserve workforce to be deployed anytime for any disaster response. All FEMA employees hold the titles of Emergency Managers, being able to fulfill several duties during times of need, and reservist position is not an exclusion. Reservists cooperate with locals, work in the disaster’s fields, make the damage assessed, and many other tasks as required.

Temporary local positions. Most often, these are people who survived the disaster and want to help with recovery. Their contract can last from 120 days to 1 year, depending on the necessity, financing, and nature of the incident. 

FEMA Corps positions. This is a special program based on the partnership between FEMA and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. FEMA provides exciting career paths in the emergency management sector for young guys and ladies of 18-26 years old without prior experience. Their task is to get training with a specific FEMA mission/program area and gain experience in disaster readiness and response, supporting the survivors and communities. The program members serve for the 12-month contract that can be extended for a second term with a monthly payment of about $336 – $366.

Though FEMA Corps can’t be regarded as federal employment, it grants a brilliant federal resume. Completing service is a pass-ticket to landing a federal job within the agency’s recruitment events for Corps Member. To join FEMA Corps, young people should visit the AmeriCorps NCCC applicant portal and complete initial training in Corps Training Institute (CTI).

Military personnel positions. FEMA government jobs often require discharged, retired, or current military staff and spouses for the workforce, hiring veterans non-competitively. Former military experience is obligatory for the security sector and sometimes for financial management cadres. Wounded Warrior program recruits U.S. veterans who became disabled during military service. Under this program, veterans get jobs within the non-competitive hiring process.

FEMA’s Operation Warfighter program gives an excellent opportunity with a competitive salary for the active-duty, National Guard, and reserve military individuals who are on temporary rehabilitation and are exempted from service. It is the same actual for those who want to move from the military to a civilian career.

Student internship positions. Every year, FEMA recruits several students who want to work in the Civil Service for a six-month internship. All interns undergo professional training and FEMA education courses. After the work practice, graduates have an excellent opportunity to get several certificates and reputation recommendations. 

You can check fresh FEMA employment opportunities following careers.fema.gov. The official website provides more detailed information for each role and a list of professional requirements. 

How Hard Is It to Get a Job with FEMA?

Getting the federal job at FEMA is not as difficult as it might seem at first glance. Openings for positions run from careers in Civil Service to temporary employment.

Everyone, from a student to a veteran, can apply for one or another work. And even if you have not come up to any standards, you can apply for one of the FEMA volunteer jobs.

Working as a volunteer will significantly increase your chances of future employment. That is why, if you want to build a career in this area, it is best to start with a missionary job.

Despite the vast range of vacancies, FEMA has specific criteria for employees. Let’s take a closer look at them.

FEMA job requirements

The first and foremost requirement is to be a U.S. citizen and be over 18 years old (even for an internship or volunteer).

You must pass a background check: fingerprinting, drug and physical screening, and psychological tests.

Depending on the position, you should have excellent physical shape and a professional set of skills.

If for health reasons, you cannot undergo a physical examination, then most vacancies with FEMA will be closed for you. It is quite logical because this agency is primarily focused on saving people, so all workers must meet certain criteria.

Keep in mind that almost all of the FEMA jobs are competitive. But it does not apply to the military staff and veterans since they are getting hired under programs. 

Educational requirements

According to standard FEMA requirements, you should have a degree with a certain level of qualification. This holds for certain cadres, for instance, Environmental Historical Preservation, which has a stronger emphasis on the educational level of their staff. But general higher education requirement becomes a mere formality. The abilities you already have can ease applying for FEMA’s positions, so you can get a job with FEMA, owing only job-specific training and vital experience.

FEMA demands all the applicants go through a general application and hiring process. Your position and salary directly depend on the level of qualification and training.

Depending on your career level, you will need to have a college degree or a master’s one. Exceptions can be made in case you are a highly qualified specialist and can prove it.

How to Get Professional Skills with FEMA?

FEMA applies the National Training Program (NTP), which creates an adapted approach to free education for emergency response providers and emergency managers. The NTP provides guidance and support to address training, development, and evaluation.

National Training Program with support of National Preparedness Guidelines includes:

  • Emergency Management Institute. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) delivers all aspects of emergency management and practice for state officials, volunteer groups, and the public and private sectors.
  • Center for Domestic Preparedness. The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) presents advanced education for emergency managers, emergency response providers, and other state leaders of all levels. 
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) assists more than 90 governmental agencies. It is an interagency legislation enforcement training institute that implements instruction to state, regional, and global law enforcement firms.
  • National Training Operations. The Training Operations (TO) has more than 125 various courses, including FEMA disaster relief training. It was designed for the nation’s responder association. 

After passing each of these training, participants can receive professional certificates. The official site of FEMA suggests joining the PS-PrepTM Program. It is an affiliate program that provides documents that are quoted in FEMA.  

How to Join FEMA? 

Always start your job search through the company’s official website. Try to objectively assess your physical and health condition to understand which vacancies you can apply for. Also, view all FEMA requirements and general qualifications before submitting. 

If in the list of government jobs, you find a suitable option for you, you will need to fill out the application form before the deadline.

Some professions require attachments, such as certificates, resume files, photographs, or others. When you have unsolvable questions, you can always ask for support by email fema-careers@fema.dhs.gov

You would have a great advantage if you applied on the official website because you can monitor the status of your request. Observing the movement of your application, you will be able to answer recruiter questions and supplement information quickly.

Do not worry about it. You will probably be asked to send additional documents before inviting you for a personal meeting. You can get a fast answer, or it can take some time.

And even if you get rejected for the first time, do not be upset and go forward to your dream. You can continue to send applications, and prove that you are worthy of being a part of the FEMA.

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Professional resume writer Richard HarterRichard Harter

Richard is a federal career expert and USAJOBS consultant providing professionals of all career levels – from C-suite to new graduates with targeted resumes, cover letters, and engaging LinkedIn Profiles.
  1. Avatar
    Michael Tessitore

    Richard, is it possible to get a FEMA position after completing 12 months in FEMA Corps/NCCC with just a high school education? Is there somewhere I could see a listing of FEMA jobs that require only a high school education? Thank you!

    Michael Tessitore

    1. Daniella Epstein
      Daniella Epstein

      Hi Michael,
      Yes, sure.
      Just register on USAJOBS, enter FEMA in the search panel, and choose the grade GS 2.
      You’ll see several positions with minimum qualifications required.

  2. Avatar

    How can I enroll the National Training Operations Program = NTP ?

    1. Daniella Epstein
      Daniella Epstein

      Check out information on the official web-site: cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov

  3. Avatar

    I’m a disabled female 58 years of age, are there any positions available that I can apply for. I have 2 years of college non – graduate and 13 years of
    previous experience working with the State of Texas HHSC and Dept. Of Health and Human Services.

    1. Daniella Epstein
      Daniella Epstein

      Hi Sharon,
      Check out information on USAJOBS: Individuals with disabilities

  4. Avatar
    Edward McCreary

    What is the maximum age to apply for fema jobs

    1. Daniella Epstein
      Daniella Epstein

      Hi Edward,
      It depends on the job announcement.
      I would advise you to contact the agency directly to find out specific information about the job of interest to you.

  5. Avatar

    Does FEMA hire truck drivers?

    1. Federal Resume Guide
      Federal Resume Guide

      If you are interested in a position with FEMA, look for a job announcements on USAJOBS https://www.usajobs.gov/ that matches your skills

  6. Avatar

    I am electrician and handyman, is there any possibility to work in FEMA.

    1. Federal Resume Guide
      Federal Resume Guide

      FEMA often requires individuals who can be deployed during disasters and emergencies. Being an electrician and handyman with a broad skill set can make you a valuable asset in various situations.

  7. Avatar
    Larry Pelletier

    Hello! I’m Larry (58) French and I have been in construction “remodeling and all sorts of repairs inside out, working for myself most of the time all my life. Prior to that I worked in the logging industry throughout high school. I owned a f 450 16” dump body and a 41 hp 4×4 tractor ( fairly new) with all equipment to remove debris from storm etc. Good at making assessment . I think that I would be a good candidate to work for fema. Let me know, thanks.

    1. Federal Resume Guide
      Federal Resume Guide

      Your experience in construction, repair, and debris removal can be helpful in disaster response and recovery. FEMA often seeks people from a variety of professions to assist in disaster response.

  8. Avatar
    Benadine Allen

    I was originally a local hire in Austin, Texas for hurricane Ike. I was then asked to become an intermittent employer, which I did and went to Texas Citywent home for four days and then was sent to Oklahoma C for 9 months. When we were closing up that office I was sent to Oklahoma City. I continued working in Oklahoma and Texas for a few more years. I would like to go back to work for FEMA, what do I need to do to sign back up? Thank you!

    1. Federal Resume Guide
      Federal Resume Guide

      Hi Benadine Allen,
      Here is all the information you need to join FEMA https://www.fema.gov/careers/apply

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