All modern businesses and communities realize the need to plan for emergencies caused by weather conditions, natural disasters, unpredictable events and the possibility of terrorist activity. Emergency management specialists understand how to plan for these situations and effectively deal with them when they occur.

If you have an aptitude for leadership, attention for procedural and regulatory details, can communicate effectively to the public and can handle a job that can swing from predictable to intense, high stress situations without warning, then you may want to look into Emergency Management as a career.

Typical Duties for Emergency Management Specialists

The most challenging aspect of this job occurs during high stress situations, and a diverse background that includes education in human resource management and psychology will be highly beneficial. Job duties include everything you would expect to be done in the event of a disaster or emergency event. These duties can include any or all of the following:

  • Cleaning up and containing hazardous waste
  • Securing sensitive information
  • Evacuating personnel
  • Providing healthcare and first aid
  • Managing wildlife
  • Applying for federal funding
  • Developing procedures, reviewing and modifying existing procedures as necessary
  • Monitoring regulatory changes
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with other government agencies
  • Filing reports and monitoring progress of projects
  • Educating the public
  • Developing training programs and preparedness courses

Job holders must stay current on all matters that might affect their response activities, and may be called upon to personally inspect facilities. Experience with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a background with a focus on regulatory or criminal law can be an advantage to job seekers. 

Emergency Management Specialist Job Outlook

The majority of jobs in this field can be found at the local and state government level, but there are also many private-sector employers. Hospitals, factories, manufacturing facilities and power plants all require individuals dedicated to handling emergency situations. Growth of this field is linked in part to growth the DHS, which is expected to be positive through 2016 and beyond.

Education and Background

Seeking a career in the Emergency Management field requires education, and most jobs are reserved for individuals who hold at least a bachelor's degree. Higher degrees, including master’s degrees in science, public administration or business administration can help expand employment possibilities.  Florida Tech University Online offers Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, and eleven MBA programs, all 100% online.

Employers may require additional certification through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Many programs exist to aid students in preparing themselves for this kind of career, including the Certified Emergency Management Specialist Program (CEMS).

Salary & Advancement

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emergency Management Specialist salaries typically range from around $29,000 to more than $90,000 a year, with a median level of slightly over $50,000. Higher profile positions in private-sector industries, such as oil or gas refineries, offer the highest rate of pay. Salaries in the petroleum industry can exceed $100k/year. Talented and skilled individuals will find opportunities for advancement, often moving to higher levels within the same job classification and eventually moving to management-level positions with potentially increased salary and responsibilities.

Is this Career Right for You?

Technologies change at a rapid rate while industry processes and materials, laws and regulations are amended frequently. Emergency management specialists need to be ready to handle a multitude of issues in the event of an incident. This creates a dynamic career that can swiftly move from an office environment with predictable daily tasks to field work in wildly impromptu settings.

Emergency management specialists can expect an exciting career that presents challenges and opportunities for individuals with an aptitude for leadership, attention to detail and the ability to communicate effectively in a high stress situation. Perspective employers look for candidates with advanced degrees in psychology, engineering and criminal law. Experience with homeland security and a background with a focus on DHS concerns is a plus.

If your goal is to find employment in this field, then you'll want to review the many graduate and undergraduate degrees offered by Florida Tech University Online. Ranked a Tier 1 Best National University by U.S. News & World Report, Florida Tech offers online degrees in Psychology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice/Homeland Security, among many others. These degrees can aid you in seeking employment as an Emergency Management Specialist and starting on the path to a lifelong career.

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