California Emergency Management Careers

California is the ideal market for emergency management specialists. As one of the largest job markets of any state, with 840 emergency management specialists working there in 2009, California presents numerous employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

In addition to a large workforce, California also boasts the highest average salary among emergency management professionals in the country, at $78,650 annually.

California has a growing need for emergency management professionals in large part because the state rests on the notorious San Andreas Fault, which is known to produce devastating earthquakes.  In 1994, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Los Angeles area destroying almost $30 billion in property and killing more than 50 individuals.

The topology of California is such that it is often a recipient of disastrous climate events.  The El Nino and El Nina air currents may introduce heavy storms that can cause flooding. In other cases, extreme heat may result in searing temperatures that present risks to the impoverished, elderly or ill.  These conditions also contribute to dry vegetation, which results in major fires nearly every summer.

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Requirements and Training for Emergency Management Jobs in California

Emergency Management Degrees Emergency management jobs in California include a wide range of specializations in man-made and natural disasters.  These emergency management careers may include work in emergency planning, homeland security, emergency management training, fire response or post-incident cleanup.  In almost all cases, at least a bachelor’s degree is required.  Many undergraduate programs offer emergency management degree programs with a wide variety of emergency management courses in

  • Disaster assistance
  • Communications
  • Public administration
  • Planning and prevention
  • Public security policies

Emergency Management Certification California has one of the most prestigious certification programs in the country for emergency management specialists.   These certifications are authorized by the California EMA and include

  • Emergency Management Specialist – must complete at least seven emergency management classes in
    • Introduction to Emergency Management in California
    • Disaster planning
    • Disaster mitigation
    • Disaster recovery
    • Terrorism
    • Crisis communications
    • Disaster medical operations
  • Terrorism and Homeland Security Specialist – must complete at least six courses in
    • Terrorism I, II and III
    • Terrorism intelligence analysis
    • WMD response
  • Crisis Communications Specialist – must complete at least five courses in
    • Crisis communications I,II, and III


The California Emergency Management Agency

As the most populous state in the country with several major metropolitan populations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and others, California has devoted enormous resources to preparing for responses to natural and man-made disasters.  The California Emergency Management Agency is one of the most well-funded programs in the country with divisions in

  • Homeland Security Division—received over $1 billion in federal grants for use in WMD, Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Explosive response preparations
  • Preparedness and Training—oversees emergency planning throughout the state and local levels
  • Fire & Rescue—coordinates state resources in response to major fires and hazardous material spills
  • Recovery—offers assistance to individuals and local governments after a disaster
  • Law Enforcement Division—coordinates emergency management plans in cooperation with police organizations at all levels

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