Engineering Careers Related to Emergency Management

Engineering and its significance in emergency management cannot be overvalued. This field of study has contributed to the field of emergency management by conceiving and settings standards (engineering codes) as to protect people and reduce loss of vital infrastructure.

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In addition, the engineering professionals who work in the emergency management field provide non-structural mitigation solutions, as well, addressing everything from land use planning to the protection of natural environmental features. As such, engineers in the emergency management field work to apply both engineered measures and non-engineered measures as a way to protect lives and infrastructure.

Engineering codes, for examples, have evolved over time to incorporate not only lessons learned, but research performed in laboratories, as well. A number of professional engineering associations, including the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), have worked to set design and safety standards for both public safety and hazard reduction.

The Emergency Management Engineering Professional

Hazard reduction measures are part of the overall duty of engineering management professions, whether they are civil engineers, mechanical engineers, structural engineers, or systems engineers.

These emergency management engineer jobs involve being able to employ engineering hazard reduction measures as to minimize the loss of life and property during such events as hurricanes, droughts, and earthquakes. There is generally no single remedy against protecting individuals and infrastructure from these natural disasters, so engineers in emergency management must always readdress current tactics and strategies by learning from past events and employing new technologies.

Further, issues and solutions vary greatly between types of infrastructure, including: ports and marine terminals, bridges, roads, underground pipelines, buildings, and electrical systems; therefore, engineers from a variety of disciplines are needed to address emergency management issues.

Emergency Management Engineer Job Description

Engineering professionals in emergency management are often called to:

  • Assess damage of impacted infrastructure
  • Employ new technologies to improve upon the existing infrastructure
  • Provide emergency road clearance and the management of debris removal
  • Provide program management services
  • Provide quality assurance and inspection services

These services may be referred to as:

  • Mitigation planning
  • Mitigation strategies
  • Mitigation alternatives
  • Hazard identification, magnitude, and frequency of occurrence
  • Assessment of disaster damages
  • Housing and building inspection
  • Assistance of public infrastructure repair
  • Debris management and monitoring
  • Training and outreach

Engineers are an ongoing presence during the recovery phase of emergencies, providing key guidance and assistance and often setting up recovery centers, where disaster victims can seek government assistance. Further, engineering specialists are often deployed during search-and-rescue missions for victims of major structural collapses.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a strong presence in emergency management, as well, as they train personnel to respond to a variety of natural disaster events, to repair flood control and storm protection structures, and to conduct other emergency response activities.

Degree Programs for Engineers in Emergency Management

Engineering professionals in emergency management possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree in their chosen field of engineering. Unlike standard degrees in emergency management that offer higher level planning and organizational skills, coursework in engineering management programs often cover topics related to emergency mitigation and response from a strictly engineering perspective. These programs include:

  • Master of Science (MS) in Engineering Management
  • Applied Scientist (App.Sc.) in Engineering Management
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Engineering Management

Within these programs, students can focus their degree on a number of areas:

  • Crisis
  • Emergency
  • Risk Management
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Cost Engineering
  • Engineering and Technology Management
  • Environmental and Energy Management
  • Knowledge and Information Management
  • Emergency Management and Public Health
  • Homeland Security Emergency Preparedness

These highly selective and competitive programs typically require a high undergraduate grade point average, a graduate record examination score (usually within the 90th percentile or above), a written examination, and an entrance essay and/or interview.

Courses within this engineering program often include:

  • The Management of Technical Organizations
  • Survey of Finance and Engineering Economics
  • Decision Making with Uncertainty
  • Systems Engineering I

Many engineers in emergency management also choose to achieve their undergraduate degree in engineering, with a concentration or focus in emergency management, or complete a graduate certificate or separate degree in emergency management or related field.

Engineering professionals in the United States must be licensed in the state in which they work by graduating from an accredited institution with a four-year degree in engineering, successfully completing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, accumulating engineering experience, and successfully completing the Principles and Practice in Engineering (PE) exam.

Salary Statistics for Engineers in Emergency Management

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineers earned the following median, annual salaries in May 2010:

  • Agricultural Engineers: $71,090
  • Civil Engineers: $77,560
  • Electrical Engineers: $87,180
  • Environmental Engineers: $78,740
  • Health and Safety Engineers: $75,430
  • Industrial Engineers: $76,100
  • Mechanical Engineers: $78,160

According to Knovel, the average engineering graduate in the United States earned an annual, average salary of $61,872 in 2011.

Resources for Engineers in Emergency Management


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