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Careers in Emergency & Disaster Management


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In this era of global impacts from disasters, there is a great demand for people who possess knowledge of emergency management as well as the research, writing, and analytical skills needed to evaluate changes in the world. These skills are needed in business, government, academia, and a host of other fields at home and abroad; and are precisely the skills you will possess after completing your degree in emergency and disaster management. A degree in emergency and disaster management prepares you for a career in emergency management and public safety.

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Useful Skills Within the Emergency and Disaster Management Field

Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.

Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Coordination - Adjusting actions in relations to others' actions.

Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understanding the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.

Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.

Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, and organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Career Options

Below you can browse possible positions within the emergency and disaster management field. This degree program can lead to many career fields; however, it does not automatically make you qualified. As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience. To identify what education or training is necessary for careers within the emergency and disaster management field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on “Job Zone.” In addition, seek out the advice of fellow students and alumni working in the industry, using our mentoring program on The Quad (for current students and alumni only) or by speaking with a career coach.  

Disaster Managers

Example Titles:
Business Continuity Planner
Emergency Management Director

Certifications Recommended:
Fire 1, Fire 2, Fire 3

Additional information regarding certifications and employers can be found under “Certifications” and “Government Agencies and Other Organizations to Consider” below.

Law Enforcement

There are many positions within law enforcement that can benefit from the knowledge an emergency and disaster management graduate possesses. Each type of law enforcement position will have requirements specific to the field, including additional training, certification, language skills, or experience. To become a police officer or detective, applicants must typically attend their specific agency or department’s police academy and successfully complete the recruit training program. Many law enforcement agencies require at least an associate degree or higher before entry.

Example Titles:
Police Officer
     - State Trooper 
     - Highway Patrol Officer
     - Transit and Railroad Police
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Fish and Game Wardens

Federal Law Enforcement
    - FBI Agents
    - US Drug Enforcement Administration Agents
    - US Secret Service
    - Federal Air Marshals
    - US Border Patrol Agents

For more details regarding law enforcement careers, consult the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Occupational Outlook Handbook".

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and Paramedics

The EDM program will enhance the skills of students already working in the EMT and paramedic field. There are various requirements for positions in this field, some are highly competitive and require additional training or certification. If you are seeking full-time employment but do not have experience, volunteer positions are the best route to become more competitive and begin obtaining certifications.

There are three levels of training for EMT’s and paramedics: EMT–Basic level, Advanced EMT Level, and Paramedics. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), a body which certifies EMTs and paramedics, requires EMTs and paramedics, at every level, to participate in certified training and sit for an exam.

There are four types of certifications available: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate 1985, EMT-Intermediate 1999, and Paramedic. Each signifies the medical skill level possessed by the individual.

Volunteer EMT

To volunteer, individuals must complete formal coursework, log practical experience hours, and participate in training. The American Medical Association has an easy to follow guide and resource outlining, in detail, the training required to become an EMT.

Individuals interested in Emergency Medical Services should also consult FEMA’s Emergency Medical Services Resource guide for additional information.

Getting Started: Internships

The emergency and disaster management program is designed to prepare individuals by providing a general understanding of the EDM field of study. In order to have a competitive resume, coupling education with experience is the best course of action. To gain experience, we encourage students to seek internships and volunteer opportunities. Agencies, like FEMA, have internships located around the country. Use the career services internship listing to develop an idea of what is or may be available in the near future. By clicking on internships listed, you will be taken directly to the original internship listing.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations and Search Engines

Each state will have offices dedicated to emergency management, homeland security, or public safety. Search your states website for locations, and use their career portal to identify the types of education and training required for positions in that state.

Example State Department Titles
Division of Emergency Management and Security
Office of Emergency Services
Office of Trauma, Terrorism, and Disaster Management
Terrorism Preparedness
U.S. Department of Public Safety

Federal Agency Websites
Bureau of Land Management
Environmental Protection Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. National Park Service
U.S. Wildlife Service

Recommended Job Sites
Emergency and Disaster Management Institute FAQ page
Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Jobs
Federal Jobs Digest
Federal Jobs Net
FEMA Employment Opportunities in Emergency Management
International Association of Emergency Managers
State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Websites
United States Office of Personnel Management
U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Must Know Information: Certification

Certification Training

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making, organizational, and practical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members, neighbors, and associates while waiting for help.

Take the CERT training from a sponsoring agency like an emergency management agency, fire department, or police department in the area where you live or work. Contact the local emergency manager where you live or work and ask about the education and training opportunities available. You can check the state directory to see if one is in your community.

Search for Training Information

By Audience:
Continuity of Operation (COOP)
Emergency Managers

Tribal Representatives
Volunteer Agencies

By Topic:
Continuity of Operation
Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP)
Emergency Management
Environment and Historic Preservation (EHP)
Flood Hazard Mapping (FHM)
Floodplain Management
Hazard Mitigation Planning
National Dam Safety Program (NDSP)
National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
National Incident Management System (NIMS)
Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program 


Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Social Media

Professional Organizations
The university's International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Student Chapter is a large and active student organization directly affiliated with the International Association of Emergency Managers. For more information on how to join, visit the student affairs center.  Connect with your chapter on TeamLab.

A log in may be required for access to social media.

Masters of Disaster: Emergency & Disaster Management & Homeland Security Students, Alumni and Faculty - LinkedIn
Disaster & Emergency Management - LinkedIn
International Emergency Managers - LinkedIn
Professionals in Emergency Management - LinkedIn
Emergency Management and Homeland Security Professionals - LinkedIn
Emergency Management Professionals - LinkedIn

Conferences and Expositions

IAEM Annual Conference & EMEX
Oct. 14-19, 2016
Savannah, Ga.

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