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What is a Certified Floodplain Manager?

At the ASFPM Annual Conference in Austin, Texas, the Chair of the ASFPM Certification Board of Regents answered this question. "I think the simplest way to put it is that Certified Floodplain Managers are people who know their stuff. They have a proven level of expertise in

  • Floodplain mapping,
  • "The requirements and standards of the National Flood Insurance Program,
  • "The requirements and standards of their state floodplain management programs, and
  • "The administrative procedures needed to make floodplain management work at the community level.

"How do we know this? Because a certified floodplain manager has passed a rigorous closed book test. It isn’t easy. Nationally, one-third of those who have tried have failed that test.

"Why should you want to go through the pain and suffering of preparing for and taking an exam? Let me list four benefits of becoming certified.

  • "First, you will have confidence in your level of knowledge. You can’t pass the exam unless you know your stuff.
  • "Second, being certified tells others that your professional capabilities have been recognized by a national program.
  • "Third, certification is the motivation for continuing education. You can’t stay certified unless you stay abreast of developments in the field by attending workshops, conferences or training courses.
  • "Fourth, it can help you in the job market. If you are an employer – you can count on CFMs to know their stuff."

We have several cases where people have gotten raises, bonuses or promotions for being certified. We have seen some job advertisements where the employer either wants a CFM or expects the person to become a CFM within a certain time.

Here's some more information on becoming a Certified Floodplain Manager:


Any person involved with, or interested in, the management of Illinois’ floodplains, wetlands and watersheds is eligible for professional certification. Most applicants are local floodplain managers, but certification is open to individuals in the private sector, state and federal government, schools and universities and other agencies or organizations dealing with floodplain and other related disciplines.

Membership in IAFSM is not required for a person to become a CFM. However, the IAFSM Board of Directors established different fee schedules for members and nonmembers.

To be certified as a CFM, a person must complete the following prerequisites:

  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • Submit a completed application;
  • Agree to abide the program’s rules and procedures;
  • Submit a statement by a reference that verifies the experience requirement;
  • Sign the Code of Professional Conduct;
  • Pay the appropriate certification fee; and
  • Pass the certification exam.

Online Application & Study References:

Application Package
Exam Study Guide

Initial certification is good for two years. At the end of the two-year period, a CFM must submit an application to IAFSM for biennial renewal. The biennial renewal application includes:

  • A form to update the CFM’s credentials;
  • Documentation that the required continuing education credits have been met or not; and
  • Payment request of the renewal fee.

The CFM certification exam covers all topics that a local official in Illinois would need to know in order to effectively administer a floodplain management ordinance.

The exam has 120 questions. All questions are multiple choice or true/false to prevent subjective answers and to facilitate grading.
The exam has five parts:

  • True/false questions on general knowledge
  • Multiple choice questions on general knowledge
  • A map reading practical exercise
  • A permit processing practical exercise
  • An exercise on FEMA’s Elevation Certificate

To pass, a person must get at least 70% of the answers correct.

Subject matter for the CFM Exam:

  • Flooding and floodplain management 10%
  • Flood studies and maps 25%
  • Regulatory standards 25%
  • Ordinance administration 20%
  • Flood insurance 10%
  • Hazard mitigation 5%
  • Natural and beneficial floodplain functions 5%



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