How to Get a Job With FEMA What Is FEMA? What Kind of Jobs does FEMA Offer? How to Join FEMA? Best Way to Get a Job with FEMA How to Apply for FEMA Jobs? Wrapping Up
How to Get a Job With FEMA What Is FEMA? What Kind of Jobs does FEMA Offer? How to Join FEMA? Best Way to Get a Job with FEMA How to Apply for FEMA Jobs? Wrapping Up
Updated 04/12/2020

How to Get a Job With FEMA

In times of annual wildfires, floods, and worldwide pandemics, FEMA is a crucial tool of federal-level response to emergencies and catastrophes in the US. If you are interested in working with FEMA, read about its hiring paths and eligibility requirements. Start with an application to the federal agency website and see how it goes.

In times of annual wildfires, floods, and worldwide pandemics, FEMA is a crucial tool of federal-level response to emergencies and catastrophes in the US. If you are interested in working with FEMA, read about its hiring paths and eligibility requirements. Start with an application to the federal agency website and see how it goes.

If you follow US emergency relief closely during major floods, wildfires, and hurricanes, you have seen survivors getting help from FEMA workers sporting cobalt blue jackets emblazoned with the yellow FEMA logo. This year, FEMA has had twice the workload as the typical list of natural force majeures was supplemented with the coronavirus pandemic.

Although FEMA continues to stay strong amidst the increased virus infection and provides recovery efforts around the country, it is in dire need of a fresh workforce as the agency’s staff is somewhat depleted due to the rate of Covid-19 infection creeping up in many states.

If you have always wanted to join FEMA’s mission, help people in need throughout the country, and keep an eye on inner processes of relief distribution, see if your skills and work experience align with FEMA requirements and job prospects. Keep reading to find out more about a career at FEMA.


What Is FEMA?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, for short, was established in 1979 to assist the federal government’s emergency response nationwide. As part of the US Department of Homeland Security, FEMA provides the nation with crisis response, emergency prevention, recovery, and mitigation during natural disasters (earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes) or human-made disasters (nuclear disasters, terroristic attacks).

Given the broad scope of FEMA emergency relief, FEMA workers help at different levels. FEMA staff ensures disaster victims’ basic needs are met, from being on the front line with food, water, and shelter to administering to planning in the background.

FEMA employs over 14,000 employees and has 10 regional offices alongside the National Emergency Training Center and Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center. FEMA also advises the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Homeland Security Council on emergency management in the US.


What Kind of Jobs does FEMA Offer?

First of all, FEMA distinguishes employment into three types: Permanent Full Time (PFT), Reservists (On-Call), and Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery (CORE). These types of positions differ in career tenure, competition status, selection process, and duration.

Permanent Full Time (PFT)

To get a PFT position, you send your application and get invited to a job interview. Since PFT positions are competitive service jobs, you must prove that you are the best fit.

According to 5 Code of Federal Regulations 1.3, competitive status means “the basic eligibility to be noncompetitively selected to fill a vacancy in a competitive position.” Basically, it means that after you get at least one year at a federal job, you get a competitive advantage before the general public, and the next time you go through an application process for a government job, you can go through a streamlined hiring process.

After one year of continuous service, PFT employees gain competitive status. After three years of continuous service, PFTs gain career tenure.

PFT positions can range from technical jobs (electricians, IT specialists, Air Conditioning Equipment Mechanics, etc.) to supervisors (Supervisory Emergency Management Specialists, Project Managers) and seniors (Senior Executives).

Reservists (On-Call)

Reservists are hired only for specific assignments during an emergency or disaster. If you apply for a reservist position, you must be available on-call to travel within 24-48 hours. A deployment may last for 30 or more days.

Hiring for a reservist job includes an application and interview.

Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery (CORE)

CORE positions are two-year and four-year full-time gigs. They can be renewed with available funding.

The hiring process also includes an application submission and interview but can be simplified depending on a candidate’s work history.

FEMA divides emergency management into preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. For example, here’s a list of jobs divided by category with salary figures taken from job descriptions on FEMA and websites:

Preparedness jobs:

Emergency Management Specialist. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a salary of $72,030, with promotion potential to $112,240.

Program Coordinator. With a salary of $69,705 - $83,785 a year, the position requires a Bachelor in Emergency Management degree to coordinate disaster response programs.

Information Security Analyst. Starting at a salary of $102,663, this role includes developing security countermeasures necessary to anticipate, assess, and minimize system vulnerabilities of information processed on FEMA computer equipment.

Response jobs:

Senior Project Manager. This position involves traveling to disaster sites, training field personnel, and providing onsite technical solutions and requires an Engineering degree and 10+ Years of experience in utilities.

Emergency Management Specialist. In this line of work, a salary starts from $69,579 and can rise to $83,397.

Communication Services Specialist. As part of disaster emergency communications, a full-time position will bring $44,886 - $59,134 a year. It requires working with the media, writing and distributing press releases, and developing public awareness campaigns.

Mitigation jobs:

Hazard Mitigation. This position involves extensive trips and working in a demanding disaster recovery environment. It requires 2+ years of experience in emergency management.

Hazard Mitigation Specialist. The job description includes identifying and coordinating creative and feasible hazard mitigation strategies.

Logistics Manager. Available both as a reservist and a PFT position, it requires knowledge of logistical regulations and policies and carrying out the financial management of logistical matters.

Recovery jobs:

Quality Supervisor. With a bachelor's degree in Engineering or Physical Science and 8+ years of construction-related experience, positions related to quality control require overseeing the performance of construction activities, preparing reports, and analyzing findings to determine program quality.

Outreach Specialist. As part of disaster survivor assistance, outreach specialists are typically recruited from local populations who live in the vicinity and get paid $3,567 a month. Available funding determines the duration of the gig.

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How to Join FEMA?

As a federal agency, FEMA has complicated hiring procedures. However, your background, age, or location can be helpful in getting a job with FEMA.

Let’s start with the most obvious one, location. FEMA recruits locals into temporary local positions. Locals from territories impacted by a disaster or other emergency often offer their help in response and recovery. FEMA signs contracts lasting from 4 months to a year, depending on the necessity and funding.

FEMA offers student internship positions in Civil Service for a six-month period during which young people take FEMA courses and professional training. To gain further employment, FEMA interns can get the required certificates.

FEMA also offers preferential treatment to veterans and military spouses, hiring them non-competitively for military personnel positions. Veterans can be hired under the federally-funded Wounded Warrior program and FEMA’s Operation Warfighter program using veteran’s preferences. Military spouses are eligible for federal employment but have no veteran's preference. People with disabilities can be hired in the non-competitive Schedule A process.

Additionally, it is possible for young people aged 18 to 24 to get hired into FEMA Corps positions if they are members of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. However, FEMA Corps positions are available only for 10 months and only for two contracts of that duration. If you are interested, reach out to the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps and find out about FEMA training.

Finally, professionals with significant leadership experience get hired into Senior Executive Service (SES) if they meet job and education requirements. Typically it requires a Ph.D. and 8+ years of senior administrative experience.


Best Way to Get a Job with FEMA

Before you start looking for FEMA jobs, make sure you meet the basic criteria of FEMA hiring regarding general eligibility, education, and values. If you meet them, your chance to get employed with FEMA is as good as anyone. The rest depends on how well the vacancy you find matches your qualifications and how well you can present yourself in writing and a personal interview.


First, let’s find out if you are eligible for the positions you’re seeking. You are if:

  • You are a U.S. citizen or national.
  • Your age meets FEMA requirements for a position.
  • Your health screening meets FEMA requirements for a position.
  • Your education and license/certification meet FEMA requirements for a position.

Be ready to provide FEMA with proof of the eligibility requirements mentioned above, such as citizenship documents, a physical examination, a drug screening, psychological tests, fingerprints, and a background check. If you have a disability and intend to take Schedule A, provide proof of disability.


As you have seen in the descriptions above, FEMA accepts people of different backgrounds and education degrees. Some FEMA positions require only a high school diploma or GED. However, most positions spell out at least a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite.

if you are just thinking about a career in FEMA and choosing a relevant degree, FEMA requires the following education more than others:

  • Emergency and disaster management degree or a corresponding certification
  • National Information Management System (NIMS) training
  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training


FEMA has a specific set of values required for any emergency management job. When applying to FEMA, you increase your chances of being hired by including the following values in your resume and cover letter:

  • Compassion
  • Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Respect for individuals and communities served
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How to Apply for FEMA Jobs?

Whether you have a military background or not, the hiring process will involve resume and cover letter submission for all applicants.

Before you sit down to craft perfect application documents, look through the job descriptions and specific requirements for each position. Where can you find vacancies? and FEMA, depending on the position.

To find and apply for PFT positions, use the federal government website

Go to the site and type in the word ‘FEMA’ in the first box on top and the desired location in the second box on top. Then you can use filters and select types of jobs and pay rates you’re seeking.

If you’re looking for a FEMA position as a reservist, student, recent graduate, or a FEMA Corps member, follow the links and go to their sites to apply for desired jobs.

Step 1. Use one of two options.

  • Option One. Go to FEMA to search for currently available FEMA jobs.
  • Option Two. Go to and create a profile there to search and save FEMA jobs.

Step 2. Prepare your application.

Nowadays, any online application includes a resume and a cover letter.

First, sit down to write a resume. It is recommended that your resume aligns with the job announcement at hand. Read the job description carefully and notice where your qualifications match the job requirements perfectly. Word the bullet points in your resume to mention the similarities you found. Always look at yourself through the employer’s eyes and address the employer’s benefit from hiring you.

Second, create a cover letter to accompany your resume. From a couple of lines to several full paragraphs, your cover letter should pinpoint your enthusiasm, great fit for a job, and most prominent competitive advantage.

Remember to address FEMA core values. In your resume, you can use the words compassion, integrity, fairness, and respect explicitly, whereas your cover letter can give examples of how you embrace these values. For example, you can start your cover letter by briefly describing how you became interested in FEMA employment opportunities:

“During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, I wanted to help my community and contacted our local FEMA organization offering my help. I was recruited as a volunteer and assigned to distributing resources.”
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Step 3. Submit your Application.

When you prepare your resume and cover letter, make sure you have all the required documents. Some positions require certificates and diploma transcripts. Remember to attach everything that a job announcement requires. Also, submit your application before the deadline.

Be attentive when filling out an application online and attaching the documents. Remember, If you’re not a veteran, you take part in competitive hiring. Therefore, the better you meet the requirement, the higher your chances of getting hired.

Step 4. Wait for a Reply. and both prompt visitors to register. As a registered user, you can follow the progress of your application on the website. Reply as soon as the system requests you additional information.

Your application may receive a job offer quickly. However, it is also common for FEMA applications to move slowly through the hiring process. That is why you are strongly advised against placing your entire stake in one position. Instead, you should apply for several suitable jobs, expecting at least one of them to come through.


Wrapping Up

How hard is it to get a job with FEMA? It is not exceptionally hard. If you want to work with FEMA, you will find a way to apply your skills, experience, and knowledge to a wide selection of jobs. FEMA has a traditional hiring process that starts with application submission and ends with a personal interview. Some positions may require a written test to assess job qualifications, while other positions involving veterans and senior executives may have more streamlined procedures. However, they all involve an application with a cover letter and resume.

A cover letter and a resume are the basic documents required for any FEMA position. Therefore, you will significantly increase the odds of getting your dream job if you put your effort into creating thoughtful and efficient application documents.

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