Washington, D.C. Emergency Management Careers

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. has some of the most robust emergency response systems in the world. Washington D.C. is served by several federal emergency management agencies including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and local agencies like the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA).

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Local Emergency Management Agencies in Washington

HSEMA offers a wide variety of services to local communities including

  • 24/7 emergency operations center
  • Coordination of communications throughout the region
  • Designs, implements and monitors emergency response plans
  • Assesses resources and capabilities of local facilities
  • Trains local agency first responders, government officials and public volunteers
  • Oversees major special events
  • Promotes public awareness of threats

HSEMA is the central clearinghouse for emergency management operations involving metropolitan police, DC fire and emergency medical personnel and DC Department of Health officials.  This agency is also responsible for the network of closed circuit cameras that monitor traffic and public activity throughout the district.

Federal Emergency Management Agencies

DHS and other federal emergency management agencies provide specialized preparations for key federal facilities, agencies and personnel. Federal agencies with particular strategic importance like the White House or Congressional offices may have unique emergency response strategies that employ services from a wide array of federal organizations including the FBI, Secret Service and branches of the U.S. armed forces.

How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in Washington, D.C.

Job Requirements – The qualifications for emergency management jobs in Washington, D.C. can be quite high.  The minimum requirements for at least some of these jobs include:

  • Bachelor’s degree (with preference granted to those in risk management, communications, public health, public or business administration)
  • At least nine years of experience in emergency management
  • Preference is shown to applicants with emergency management planning certifications
  • Possession of well-developed written and oral communication
  • Willingness to travel
  • Ability to pass a comprehensive background investigation

While many of these organizations require only a bachelor’s degree, there are usually steep experience requirements. In some cases, these experience requirements may be satisfied, at least in part, by an advanced degree like a MS or PhD.

Federal Certification – The federal government’s Emergency Management Institute offers a wide selection of independent study programs which include the following mission areas:

  • Incident management
  • Operational planning
  • Continuity programs
  • Disaster logistics
  • Emergency communications
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Public disaster communications
  • Service to disaster victims
  • Integrated preparedness

Most of these independent programs offer emergency management courses that can be completed online and at one’s own pace.  In order to receive certification in these topics, however, a comprehensive exam must be successfully passed.

Within the local community, there are a number of portals for obtaining certifications.  These include:

  • Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management—offers a graduate certificate in Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness or Emergency Management and Public Health
  • National Emergency Management Association—offers training for state emergency management directors
  • Red Cross—offers training programs for emergency medical response, CPR and first aid, bloodborne pathogens, and emergency oxygen.

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