21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act Direct Hiring Authority

NOAA received direct hire authority through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2019. This authority allows us to hire qualified recent graduates who participated in eligible NOAA summer internships or fellowships into federal positions through a more direct process. NOAA updated the direct hire authority policy in 2024. Now, NOAA can use this authority to fill any position at any grade or band level, as long as the candidate is qualified for the position. 

NOAA’s Office of Human Capital Services determines which NOAA programs meet the requirements for this authority. They also determine if individual alumni are eligible to be hired under this authority when they apply for federal positions at NOAA.

General information on this authority at NOAA

What are the eligibility criteria?

If you participated in an eligible program, you may be able to use this direct hire authority if you:  

  1. Were enrolled as a student in an undergraduate or graduate degree program when you began your internship; 
  2. Successfully completed your internship; and 
  3. Subsequently earned an undergraduate or graduate degree within the past two years. The degree may be the one you were pursuing during your internship or subsequent undergraduate and graduate degrees earned from an accredited institution of higher education*. 

To be considered for any position that you apply to, you must meet all qualification requirements. This includes the qualification standards for the job, which are minimum requirements determined by the Office of Personnel Management for each job series. Additionally, you must be a U.S. citizen to be employed by federal agencies, including NOAA. 

Note: Alumni from the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship received a new direct hiring authority in 2021. Fellows who completed the program may also be eligible to use this new authority for two years after they complete the fellowship.

*For example, if you were pursuing an undergraduate degree during your internship program and then went on to earn a graduate degree, you become eligible to use the CCA DHA again for 2 years after receiving your graduate degree.

How do I use the direct hiring authority if I'm eligible?

To use this authority when you apply to jobs at NOAA, you will need: 

  1. Certificate of eligibility confirming you’ve successfully completed the program. If you do not have a certificate, you can get one by contacting your program. Since 2020, eligible programs have provided certificates when students complete their internships. 
    Since 2020, eligible programs have provided certificates when students complete their internships. In February of 2024, we updated the certificate; if you received a certificate between 2020 and January of 2024, it is still valid.
  2. A federal-style resume.
  3. Transcripts verifying your degrees.

You may also be able to use this authority when applying to positions at the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture; however, implementation depends on the discretion of those departments.

Tools for understanding CCA DHA eligibility

If you are uncertain whether you qualify to use the CCA DHA, try using the self-assessment or flowchart below. They provide a step-by-step approach to help you determine your eligibility.

CCA DHA eligibility self-assessment

CCA DHA eligibility self-assessment (text only)

  1. Are you a U.S. citizen? If not, but you may become a U.S. citizen in the future, consider finishing the self-assessment to determine your potential eligibility in the future.

  2. Did you participate in any of the eligible programs listed above?
  3. Did you successfully complete your internship?
  4. Were you a student during your internship or fellowship?
  5. Have you graduated in the past two years, or do you have an anticipated graduate date for one of the following:
  • The same degree you were pursuing during your internship, or
  • A subsequent undergraduate or graduate degree*.

If you answered yes to all of the questions above, you are eligible or will soon become eligible to use the CCA DHA. If you already graduated, you are eligible to use the CCA DHA until two years after your graduation date. If you have an anticipated graduation date, you will become eligible upon graduation until two years after your graduation date.

*A degree beyond the degree you were pursuing during your internship. For example, you completed your internship as an undergraduate and then graduated and went on to complete a graduate degree. Another example could be that you were pursuing your masters degree during the internship and went on to complete a Ph.D.

CCA DHA eligibility flowchart

The text version of this flowchart can be found in the preceding section "CCA DHA eligibility self-assessment."
A flowchart that NOAA internship and fellowship alumni can use to determine their eligibility for the Conservation Corps Act Direct Hiring Authority (DHA CCA). (Image credit: NOAA Education)