Acquisition Management Trainee Program


The Acquisition Management (AQM) Trainee Program is a new initiative by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) aimed at recruiting and training new and current professionals in the field of acquisition in order to create and maintain a capable and motivated workforce. Participants train in one of four career fields, each of which plays a vital role in serving the mission of the U.S. Forest Service. Trainees are hired as full-time, permanent employees at one of several duty locations across the country and participate in formal and on-the-job training, mentoring, shadowing, and other career development activities for a total of three to four years. Upon successful completion of the program, participants are placed into a permanent position as either a GS-11 or GS-12.

How Does the Program Work?

AQM Trainee Program participants are hired as full-time federal employees under regular merit (career) and demo (non-government) authorities. Trainees are primarily responsible for increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities throughout the program; however they will be focused in one of four career fields, including Contracting, Leasing, Grants and Agreements, or Asset Management. Professionals in these positions serve as business advisors to the USFS, as follows:

  • Contract Specialists develop, negotiate, award and administer contracts for everything from fire suppression and prevention, tree planting, bridge and road construction, and support services. Certain contracting specialties may also hire trainees, such as Incident Support, Information Technology Support, and Job Corps Support.
  • Realty Specialists develop, negotiate, award and administer leases for real property including buildings, warehouses, air tanker and helicopter hangers, and more.
  • Grants and Agreements Specialists are responsible for the pre-award, award, administration, and closeout of a wide variety of grants and agreements such as cooperative agreements, cost share agreements, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), interagency agreements, participating agreements, and domestic grants.
  • Asset Managers have a coordination, guidance, and approval role for acquisition and disposition of real and personal property assets, which amount to approximately half of the agency's balance sheet in terms of depreciated value.

Outstanding Salary & Benefits


Hiring Grade: GS- 05

Promotion Potential: GS-11

For more information on salaries, visit the Office of Personnel Management Salaries and Wages site.


  • Personal leave days for vacation
    • 13 days for the first three years of service
    • 20 days per year for years 4-15 of service
    • 26 days per year after 15 years of service
  • 10 paid holidays per year
  • 13 paid sick days per year
  • Health Insurance
  • Thrift Savings Plan (Retirement)
    • Government matching contributions up to 5%
  • Transportation subsidies*
  • Life and long-term care insurance

*Dependent on duty location and method of transportation

For more information on salary and benefits visit the benefits page .

Beneficial Training and Mentorship

The USFS AQM Trainee Program focuses on a variety of training methods aimed at providing participants with the skills and abilities needed to become an effective member of the Acquisition Management team. Some key training benefits are detailed below.

Formal Training

All participants will receive all training required for obtaining a grade-appropriate warrant and/or certification. Contracting trainees will receive training required for a Contracting Officer warrant and Federal Acquisition Certification in Contracting (FAC-C, Level 2). Leasing trainees will receive training required for a Leasing Officer warrant, and basic training on contracting via early FAC-C courses. Grants and Agreements Specialists will receive training required for obtaining a Grants and Agreements certification. Asset Managers will receive training in accordance with the core competencies identified by the USFS for positions in Asset Management.


Participants in the program will also be partnered with an expert in their acquisition field who will act as their mentor, providing them with positive guidance and support throughout the training program. These mentors will help the trainee to assess their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop a long-term plan for the trainee's career goals.

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