Formal Training for Emergency Management Professionals

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Emergency management is an evolving field that is organized, managed and administered at all levels of government and in nearly all industries and establishments, from large public companies to small consulting firms and local emergency services departments.

State emergency management agencies have varying organizational structures, which often dictate how their emergency management programs are organized and administered. For example, there are 14 states in which emergency management agencies are a part of the Department of Public Safety; in 18 states, emergency management is part of the military (adjutant general); 11 states combine homeland security and emergency management; and 9 states it is a part of the governor’s office.

Capella University offers online Master's, PhD, and Professional Doctorate degrees in Emergency Management to help you develop in-demand skills that you can apply directly to a career as an emergency management professional. Learn new approaches to mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, and prepare to lead and manage organizations and individuals in emergency preparedness activities. Request information on how you can find the most direct path to advance in your emergency management career.

Therefore, emergency management formal training can – and often – varies between state emergency management departments and certainly among local departments. Further, non-profit and private companies often have an even different set of formal training requirements for emergency management professionals.

Formal training is essential in emergency management, as there are a myriad of career paths within this field, all of which require a specific skillset:

  • Emergency Management Specialists – Emergency management specialists must be able to effectively collaborate with other emergency management professionals and develop liaisons with any number of governmental, private and nonprofit organizations and agencies. They must be able to coordinate all disaster response activities during a disaster and ensure that critical tasks, such as evacuations, are carried out.
  • Emergency Management Coordinators – Emergency management coordinators must be able to coordinate resources, personnel and facilities during a disaster. They also are tasked with ensuring that an organization’s disaster preparedness plan is in line with state and federal regulations and that frequent reviews and revisions to the plan are implemented. They are also often called upon to develop outreach programs as to educate others on the importance of organized and efficient disaster preparedness plans.
  • Engineers in Emergency Management – Engineers in emergency management are actively involved in mitigation planning, mitigation strategies, and mitigation alternatives. Whether they are mechanical engineers, civil engineers, or structural engineers, these professionals must be able to identify hazards, assess damages, and employ new technologies to build upon existing plans.
  • Emergency Management Directors – Emergency management directors must be able to coordinate all response services and programs related to disasters, whether manmade or natural.  They facilitate the coordination of all governmental and private resources, remain up-to-date on new or changing regulations, and establish an efficient and well-organized emergency response structure.

Although no one path to a career in emergency management exists, there is a host of formal training options, many of which are being created or being expanded to address the growing need for experts in this field:

Higher Education Programs

FEMA, which maintains a list of collegiate emergency management programs in the United States, reported the following:

Certificate Programs

There are currently 68 stand-alone diploma (certificates) programs in emergency management. Typical certificate programs include:

  • Certificate in Emergency Preparedness
  • Certificate in Emergency Management
  • Certificate in Public Safety and Emergency Management
  • Certificate in Emergency Management Response and Homeland Security

Associate Degree Programs

There are currently 53 schools offering associate degree programs in emergency management. Examples of associate degree programs include:

  • Associate of Science in Emergency Services Administration
  • Associate of Applied Sciences in Emergency Management
  • Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Management Technology
  • Emergency Management Associate Degree
  • Associate in Applied Science in Emergency Preparedness Technology
  • Associate of Applied Arts in Emergency Management

Bachelor Degree Programs

There are currently 53 schools offering bachelor degree programs in the United States. Common bachelor programs include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Administration and Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
  • Bachelor Science in Public Safety Administration with an Emergency Management concentration
  • Bachelor of Science with a Major in Crisis and Disaster Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Readiness and Response Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Disaster Management and Relief Program

Master-Level Concentration/Specialization Programs

There are currently 88 schools with master-level concentrations/tracks/specializations or areas of emphasis. Programs are often organized as:

  • Masters in Emergency and Disaster Management
  • Master of Science in Emergency Management
  • Masters of Social Work with an emphasis in Emergency Preparedness
  • Master of Science with Emergency Management concentration
  • Master of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
  • Master of Science in Public Safety with an Emergency Management specialization
  • Master of Science in Emergency Services Management
  • Master of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management
  • Master of Liberal Studies in Technology with a concentration in Emergency Management
  • Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management
  • Graduate Diploma in Disaster and Emergency Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management and Crisis Leadership

Doctoral-Level Programs

There are currently 9 schools in the United States offering doctoral-level programs. Some of the programs offered include:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Public Safety with an Emergency Management specialization
  • PhD in Engineering Management with a research focus in the field of Crisis, Emergency, and Risk Management
  • Doctor of Science in Emergency Management
  • PhD in Fire and Emergency Management Administration
  • PhD in Disaster Science and Management

There are an additional 35 emergency management programs currently in development.

Professional Certification Programs that Provide Training in Emergency Management

Due to the wide variety of collegiate programs offered in emergency management, many state and local agencies and employers seek individuals with professional certification— and many emergency management professionals seek professional certification—because it reflects the completion of specific, formal training in emergency operations, management, and coordination.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Certification

FEMA offers two levels of certification:

  • FEMA Professional Development Series (PDS) Certificate
  • FEMA Advanced Professional Series (APS) certificate

Within these programs, individuals must complete specific courses. The PDS program requires the completion of the following courses:

  • An Introduction to Exercises
  • Decision Making and Problem Solving
  • Developing and Managing Volunteers
  • Effective Communication
  • Emergency Planning
  • Fundamentals of Emergency Management
  • Leadership and Influence

The APS program requires the completion of the following courses (as well as a number of elective courses):

  • EOC Management and Operations OR Management and Operations
  • Incident Command System Emergency/Emergency Operations Center Interface Mitigation for Emergency Managers
  • Rapid Assessment Workshop
  • Recovery from Disaster, the Local Government Role

International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Certification

The IAEM offers the following two certificate programs:

  • Certified Emergency Manager (CEM)
  • Associate Emergency Manager (AEM)

To qualify one of the IAEM designations, individuals must show proof of formal training in the form of a bachelor’s degree, as well as proof of at least 100 contact hours of emergency management training; at least 100 hours in general management training; and at least 6 contributions to the profession.

These certification programs also include a multiple-choice examination and proof of at least 3 years of emergency management experience.

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