What Does an Emergency Manager Do?

Let’s think about the current moment we’re in and the political climate for which it surrounds. Interventions around the COVID-19 global pandemic certainly are being addressed by some of the top scientists and medical professionals in the country. However, working in tandem with those who are trying to flatten the curve are people who have careers in disaster and emergency management. 

Many things can prepare you for an emergency management career path, including a bachelor’s degree program in emergency management. If you are wondering about emergency management careers, look closely. What does an emergency manager do? They are the ones inspecting and opening makeshift hospitals in parks and conventions centers. They are also the ones at the front lines of coordination efforts between all of the agencies and organizations that need to be collaborating in times of crisis. Well established hospitals have people with careers in emergency management setting up shop and helping solve complex problems, like storage of all of the bodies that have expired from COVID-19.  

Certainly, there are people in the emergency management career path that are not even engaged in the current disaster at hand, but are putting infrastructure in place for the next big earthquake, or the fires that have been known to ravage California’s wine country in the summer months. They are also one of the critical team members that take the lead on a college campus when there has just been a shooting, and are planning ahead to ensure when there is one, as little harm as possible is done. Emergency managers are also the ones often creating and facilitating trainings for community organizations to support local efforts to intervene on a crisis situation whether it be large or small. They also work in small consulting firms and larger corporations around risk management.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Emergency Management

As you can see, emergency management careers can take on different responsibilities and really set the tone for how disasters are handled on the local, national, and global levels. So, if you are still wondering what can you do with an emergency management degree, think about all of the possibilities. There are many government organizations for which you can apply these skills in critical positions. You can easily access employment with homeland security, the Environmental Protection Agency, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), Nuclear Regulation Commission (NRC), National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO), the (FBI) Federal Bureau of Investigation, The American Red Cross, The United States National Response Team, Department of the Interior (DOI), and so many more. Many want to utilize these skills at a more grassroots level and engage with disaster response on tribal land, or with local communities who are dealing with issues of environmental racism. There are also the private-sector positions that address businesses and risk management. They are often the ones to think through cybersecurity solutions and the underpinnings of protection in the age of technology. 

Suggested Career Tips for Emergency Management

If you are just getting started in an emergency management consultant or administration career, a great place to start is on the ground. There are never too many ways to gain experience as you learn about different aspects of the profession. Some people enter the field with a background in law enforcement, fire science, or EMS, all of which make excellent candidates to plug into multiple levels of a disaster. If you do not have on-the-ground experience, a great idea might be to join a community disaster response team. Not only will you learn skills pertinent to your home community and crisis intervention strategies for that particular region and set of circumstances, but you will also have the opportunity to be trained by someone who plays a leadership role in this field. It also doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some of the organizations that are leaders in disaster and emergency management like the American Red Cross. Like with any profession, it is helpful to conduct informational interviews with anyone who might hold a career that interests you. Ask good questions about the way their days are structured and what their jobs actually entail. They also offer embedded networking opportunities that can take you a long way.  

Many of the degree programs that lead to emergency management positions are completion programs that accept many credits from previous institutions. Many times people have already been in the military or achieved an associates degree in a similar or unrelated field before choosing this path. All life experience is beneficial in this career path. Any programming that fosters communication, critical thinking and leadership are assets to the field and will make you an even stronger candidate.

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