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National Incident Management System: National Qualification System

with standard processes to qualify, certify and credential emergency personnel.

The National Qualification System (NQS) is a foundational guideline on the qualification of personnel resources within the National Incident Management System. It establishes guidance and tools to assist stakeholders in developing processes for qualifying, certifying and credentialing deployable emergency personnel.


This guideline is available for use by any authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), including all levels of government and organizations, private sector entities, and nongovernmental organizations. It introduces primary tools to help AHJs establish their own processes.

The 3 key tasks in the NQS are:

  • Qualification: the process of enabling personnel to perform the duties of a specific position and documenting their proficiency of the capabilities required by the position.
  • Certification: the recognition from the AHJ or a third party stating that an individual has met the established criteria and is qualified for a specific position. (Recertification confirms that an individual has maintained their qualification for the position).
  • Credentialing: the process of providing documentation that identifies personnel and verifies their qualifications for certain positions.

The NQS promotes interoperability by establishing a common language for defining job titles. It also enables jurisdictions and organizations to plan for, request and have confidence in the capabilities of personnel deployed for disasters and emergencies from other entities through mutual aid agreements and compacts. You can learn more about the NQS at