Set in the highest altitudes of the continental United States, Colorado has long had a robust emergency response system to help stranded skiers, hikers and mountain climbers as well as a well-developed disaster relief program to help communities respond to natural events like floods, snowstorms, and avalanches.
In recent years, Colorado has been plagued by forest fires, which have devastated large swaths of forest. In 2012, almost 200,000 acres of the Front Range were lost to fires. Millions in property damage occurred, leading to federal relief in excess of $19 million. In addition to major events like wildfires, Colorado leads the country in avalanche deaths with eight to nine deaths each year. The extreme cold experienced also contributes to widespread fatalities. In 1998, almost 77 people were killed due to extreme cold.
Training and Requirements for Emergency Management Professionals in Colorado
Degrees – Emergency management jobs in Colorado require at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following majors:
- Civil engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Environmental science
- Emergency management
Many employers prefer applicants with at least a master’s degree. Any academic experience should include emergency management courses in public administration, terrorism, crisis communication or related topics.
Knowledge Requirements – In addition to basic academic credentials, applicants should also possess the following qualifications:
- Seven to ten years of experience in emergency management, planning, or hazard mitigation
- Working knowledge of federal disaster grant programs including
- Knowledge of community wildfire protection plans, climate change adaption planning, energy assurance plans, recovery planning, drought mitigation, response plans and business continuity planning
- Knowledge of EMAP, NFIP, CRS, or HAZUS/GIS software
- Have a valid driver’s license and satisfactory driving record
- Strong communications skills
- Ability to pass a drug test
- Ability to pass a background investigation
Training and Certification – The Colorado Emergency Management Association offers a highly esteemed certification program. These programs offer a wide selection in emergency management classes including
- Disaster preparedness
- Grant writing
- Financial management
- Search operations
- Flood fight operations
- Hazardous weather and flood preparedness
- Emergency planning and special needs populations
Many of these training modules developed in concert with federal agencies in homeland security, health services, and emergency response. Training for emergency management careers typically involves classroom instruction as well as hands on practicums.