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All Career Fields

The following Universal Essential Competencies have been identified as competencies needed across all Career Fields at all levels of work by every employee. Employees obtain these Universal Essential Competencies through personal education and experience, through NPS orientation and mission renewal training programs, and through interaction with peers, teams, and supervisors.

(1)Mission Comprehension


This competency requires a thorough background and understanding of the 1916 NPS Organic Act and its many ramifications and the additional responsibilities that have been added to the NPS throughout its history; and a perspective of how the National Park System began as a part of the Conservation Movement that continues today.


I.Mission Comprehension

A. Historical Background and Creation of the NPS
B. Organic Act of 1916
C. Mission Evolution
D. NPS Mandate(s)
E. The Purpose of Parks
F. The Conservation Movement of Yesterday & Today

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge and comprehension of NPS History

Understanding of 1916 NPS Organic Act and other Acts affecting NPS Mission

Ability to articulate a personal philosophy regarding the NPS Mandate and the purpose of parks

Knowledge and comprehension of the history of the Conservation Movement and its past and present influence on the National Park System & Service

(2)Agency Orientation


This competency requires a basic comprehension of the structure and organization of the NPS at the park, cluster, field area, and Washington Office levels; an understanding of the structure and organization of the Department of the Interior and its place in the Federal Government; and the development of an insight into an individual employee's role in the NPS in particular, and in the Federal Government in general.


II.Agency Orientation

A. Structure & Organization of the NPS
B. Structure & Organization of DOI and the Federal Government
C. The Individual's Role in the NPS and the Federal Government

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge and comprehension of the structure of the NPS, DOI, and the Federal Government

Ability to represent the NPS as an employee of the organization

Knowledge of the basics of how government works

(3)Resource Stewardship


This competency requires an overall understanding of the spectrum of resources protected by the NPS; the range of NPS responsibilities in managing these resources; the individual's role in resource stewardship; the planning process and its purpose in the NPS; and working with partners outside the agency to promote resource stewardship.


III.Resource Stewardship

A. Resources in the NPS
B. The Stewardship Function of the NPS
C. Sustainable Practices Philosophy
D. The Individual Employee's Role in Resources Stewardship
E. The NPS Planning Process
F. The Purpose of Partnerships

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of the variety of NPS resources

Ability to articulate the NPS Stewardship Function and to explain an individual's role in supporting it

Basic knowledge of the NPS Planning Process and how it contributes to Resource Stewardship

Knowledge of why the NPS needs Partners to fulfill its Stewardship responsibilities

(4)Fundamental Values


This competency focuses on an employee's ability to exhibit certain attitudes and behaviors to accomplish an assigned job and to contribute to the overall health of the organization. These include: leadership and teamwork behaviors; ethical behavior towards people and the organization; support of cultural diversity and fairness issues in the workplace; support of accessible parks and workplaces; an attitude towards safe behavior for one's self and for others; and mental and physical fitness.


IV.Fundamental Values

A. Leadership & Teamwork Behaviors
B. Ethics in Work and Government
C. Cultural Diversity and Equal Opportunity Issues
D. Accessibility Issues
E. Basic Risk Management (Safety)
F. Employee Fitness

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to provide leadership at one's particular level in the organization

Ability to function as a member of a team

Ability to assess one's attitudes about one's standards towards others and one's employer and conducting one's self in an ethical manner

Knowledge about Equal Opportunity and what it means, and ability to support cultural diversity in the workplace

Knowledge about Accessibility and how to apply it to parks and the workplace

Ability to maintain basic mental and physical fitness for the job

Knowledge of safe work habits and ability to apply them

(5)NPS Operations


This competency encompasses a general comprehension of the basic operations of the NPS, especially at the park level; how these operations interact to fulfill the Mission of the NPS; and why visitors come to parks and how the NPS "manages" them.


V. NPS Operations

A. Visitors and How They View Parks
B. Visitor Use Management
C. Park Operations
1. Administration
2. Concessions
3. Cooperating Associations
4. Interpretation & Education
5. Law Enforcement & Incident Management
6. Maintenance
7. Resources Management & Science
8. Wilderness
D.External NPS Operations
1. Outdoor Recreation & Conservation Programs
2. Preservation Assistance Programs
3. Recreation Grants Programs
4. Partnership Programs

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of visitor use behaviors, expectations, and visitation patterns, and how the NPS "manages" them

Broad knowledge and understanding of the various aspects of the various park interactions and how they work together to accomplish the NPS and park missions

Knowledge of the external NPS programs and how they accomplish the NPS mission to protect the parks and promote conservation of resources outside the parks

(6)Communication Skills


This competency encompasses the ability to communicate effectively with the public and employees in writing and speech; to use interpersonal skills to be an effective employee; and to exhibit basic computer abilities.


VI.Communication Skills

A.Basic Literacy & Writing Skills
B.Basic Speaking Skills
C.Interpersonal Skills
D.Basic Computer Skills

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to write basic letters and reports and to fill out basic forms for routine NPS operations

Ability to speak effectively one-on-one and to small groups

Ability to use interpersonal skills to become an effective employee

Ability to perform basic computer technological skills such as word-processing or electronic mail

(7)Problem-Solving Skills


This competency deals with the ability to analyze a problem, build consensus, make decisions, and practice innovation in various aspects of one's job.


VII.Problem-Solving Skills

A. Analytical Skills
B. Consensus-Building Skills
C. Decision-Making Skills
D. Innovation Skills

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to analyze a simple situation, make conclusions, and recommend a course of action

Ability to participate in discussions and lead self and group to consensus

Ability to identify and implement innovative methods at one's particular level in the organization

(8)Individual Development & Planning


This competency considers an individual's being able to work with one's supervisor and agency to plan a course of action for one's performance, career, and ultimately, retirement.


VIII.Individual Planning & Development

A. Individual Development
B. Performance Assessment
C. Career & Retirement Planning

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Ability to use performance appraisal to assess one's performance strengths and weaknesses leading to improvement

Ability to set personal goals for career development and to implement actions with agency and supervisory support to attain them

National Park Service
Training and Development Division
Essential Competencies

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