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A Detailed Guide to Becoming a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM)

February 3, 2024
Meghan Finlayson

We work with many individuals who are new to the floodplain management field. Whether you are just starting your career as a floodplain manager, or are an experienced professional taking on new responsibilities, becoming a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) can help you better understand the complexities and empower you to take on new tasks. To become a CFM, you must pass the CFM exam. We put together this guide covering all the details on the exam and credential to help save you time and set you up for success!


The Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) exam was introduced in 1999, and there are over 20,000 Certified Floodplain Managers (CFMs) in the USA today! The exam is uniform across the country, and the certification program empowers floodplain managers and building professionals with essential floodplain management knowledge. The program helps improve public safety in communities across the nation – and for individuals, it helps establish their credibility and gives them access to a larger network of CFMs. 


The exam is a comprehensive assessment of floodplain management expertise. Some important features include: 

  • Closed book format
  • 3 hours long
  • 120 multiple choice questions, as well as exercises on riverine mapping, coastal  mapping, and Elevation Certificates
  • Exercises require use of a FIRM and FIS
  • There are no questions on Risk Rating 2.0
  • Individuals must get at least a 70% to pass (84 questions correct)
  • Test centers are located all over the country, every location should be within 50 miles of a test center. You can also take the exam at home with a webcam and stable wifi.


The exam assesses knowledge across three concepts. The first is regulations and administrative procedures, delving into topics like development regulation, CAVs (Community Assistance Visits), and CACs (Community Assistance Contacts). The second centers on customer service activities, encompassing subjects such as repetitive loss information, increased cost of compliance, and LOMAs (Letter of Map Amendments). Finally, the third emphasizes mitigation, preparedness, and disaster response activities, covering aspects like grant programs, cost-sharing eligibility, and disaster declaration. 

To help target your preparation, ASFPM offers a helpful self assessment to identify specific areas that require your focus.  

The exam questions are classified into a few different categories, outlined below.

  • Floodplain Mapping (24-30 questions)
  • NFIP Regulatory Standards (24-30 questions)
  • Regulatory Administrative Procedures (18-24 questions)
  • Flood Insurance (12-18 questions)
  • Flood Hazard Mitigation (12-18 questions) 
  • Natural and Beneficial Functions (12-18 questions)
  • Overall Context of Floodplain Management (6-12 questions) 


If you are in the Maryland area, ASFPM recommends FEMA’s 4 day in-person course at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI): FEMA E273 - Managing Floodplain Development through the NFIP.

If you prefer online, ASFPM offers on-demand learning courses in their new Path LMS portal. This allows individuals to self-pace their studying online. Some key on-demand learning courses that they highlight include: 

The portal also Includes a brand new course on professional skills! Sign up for an account to access the Path LMS portal here.

In terms of study resources, you can find everything you need in ASFPM’s Virtual Library. This includes all of the CFM Exam Technical Resources (30 documents) that are used to validate every exam question. We’ve outlined additional resources in this blog: CFM Study Guide Resources.

Pricing Details

It is important to keep in mind pricing for the exam as it is non refundable once you sign up. The exam costs $585 and it is discounted to $185 for ASFPM members and students. The fee for retaking the exam is $85 and registration eligibility lasts for 1 year. 

Credential Renewal

There are two renewal cycles - one in July and one in January. Depending on when you take the exam will determine which cycle you fall into. Renewal costs $500. It is discounted to $120 for members, and the early bird rate for members is $80. Note: early bird rate starts 3 months before the end of the cycle and lasts 60 days.

In order to renew, 16 hours of eligible Continuing Education Credit (CEC) activities are required to be completed in a 2 year cycle. A credit can only be counted once per cycle and there must be proof of the activity.

Eligible activities include:

  • ASFPM conferences or pre-approved courses (varies: 1 hour = 1 CEC)
  • Other relevant and approved course/conference (varies: 1 hour = 1 CEC)
  • Virtual learning (1 CEC)
  • Virtual training (varies: 1 hour = 1 CEC; must include learning checks)
  • Professional Association Membership (1 CEC each / max 2 per cycle)
  • Author/co-author peer-reviewed published journal article (Max 6 CECs per article)
  • Author/co-author ASFPM technical white paper (Max 6 CECs per white paper)
  • Teaching a course (varies: 1 hour = 2 CECs)
  •  Forerunner frequently hosts webinars that offer CECs - register for our upcoming webinars here!

The subject matter for qualifying CECs is broad! Anything deemed “reasonably related” to flooding and/or addressing floodplain management can be eligible. ASFPM also pre-approved the following trainings for CECs:

  • FEMA/EMI: In person - free - 96 courses - 1073 hours
  • FEMA/EMU: Virtual - free - 100 courses - 341 hours
  • COMET: Virtual - free - 38 courses - 55 hours
  • Vector Solutions: Virtual - Low Cost - 85 courses - 146 hours (note: charge is ~$30 per CEC and ASFPM receives 30% of that)

To get credit for your CEC, you must show proof that you completed the activity. Acceptable submissions include:

  • CEC Verification form
  • Certificate of attendance/completion
  • Full agenda with schedule
  • Evidence of learning checks (if applicable)
  • Proof of publication or proof of membership

Do not submit receipts, printouts of a calendar, or email confirmation of registration. is the best place to access resources for managing your CFM designation and it is also where you will track and report on your Continuing Education Credits (CECs). 

Best of luck on your exam!! To learn more, reference our blog posts: 

Our work at Forerunner is focused on equipping floodplain managers with the resources that they need to be successful in their work. If you’d like to learn more about how our floodplain management software does that, feel free to reach out or request a demo

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