Emergency management specialists are the behind-the-scenes emergency management professionals who ensure the seamless coordination of all emergency services. Their organizational efforts, in such areas as disaster and emergency preparedness, are essential to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a natural or manmade disaster.
Their ability to coordinate strategies and procedures with emergency personnel at every level, from state and federal to county and local, is essential for ensuring that emergency contingencies are expertly handled and planned.
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Emergency management specialist jobs can be found in the public sector, in areas such as law enforcement, the military, and state and local governments. However, their services are also often used in the private sector, in hospitals, universities, and community relief organizations, such as the American Red Cross.
Emergency management specialists are often called upon to conduct research to determine the right approach for creating and implementing emergency preparedness plans, and they pay close attention to changes in state and federal regulations and modify emergency preparedness plans to reflect these changes.
Job Description and Job Duties of an Emergency Management Specialist
Typical duties of an emergency management specialist include:
- Collaborating with other emergency management personnel and local, state or federal officials when preparing for, responding to, or recovering from disasters
- Providing support to, and developing liaisons with, other agencies, organizations or companies involved in developing disaster preparedness programs
- Consulting with area institutions, including hospitals, schools, and local governments, to determine their needs and to ensure the facilitation of programs in the event of natural or manmade disasters
- Coordinating all disaster response or crisis management activities in the event of a disaster, including ordering evacuations and implementing programs and plans
- Inspecting facilities and equipment used in emergency management operations centers to ensure their functionality
- Developing instructional materials for the public and hosting events for citizen and community groups
Education, Degrees, and Certification for Emergency Management Specialists
Given the wide scope of expertise and the level of responsibility involved in emergency management specialist jobs, most individuals in this profession possess a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Although a degree in emergency management is often preferred by employers, a degree in public administration, business administration, or a similar field is often an acceptable path to a career in emergency management.
Common coursework in an emergency management program includes:
- Communication Strategies for the Public Safety Professional
- Principles of Emergency Management
- Emergency Planning
- Justice, Crime, and Ethics
- Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Leadership in Emergency Management
- Technology in Emergency Management
- Decision Management in Critical Incidents
Emergency management specialists in the public sector often possess a certification from the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and many professionals seek professional certification and continuing education from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).
Salary Statistics and Forecasts for Emergency Management Specialists
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), emergency management specialists earned a median annual salary of $52,590 in May 2009. The highest paid professionals in this industry earned a median annual salary of $90,340 (top 10 percent).
The top-paying industries for emergency management specialists in May 2009 included the oil and gas extraction industry, where emergency management specialists earned an average annual salary of $100,530. Behind oil and gas was the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry, in which emergency management specialists earned an average salary of $77,700.
The industries with the highest level of employment for emergency management specialists in May 2009 were: local government, state government, and general medical and surgical hospitals.
Top-paying states for emergency management specialists in May 2009 were: California ($78,650), Massachusetts ($75,570), and Virginia ($72,710).
A recent job listing for a supervisory emergency management specialist with the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, reports a salary range of $105,211 to $136,771.
A recent job listing for an emergency management specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reports a salary range of $34,039 to $67,043.
Resources for Emergency Management Specialists
- International Association of Emergency Managers
- Federal Emergency Management Association
- National Incident Management System
- Department of Homeland Security