Illinois enjoys a well-developed emergency management system with agencies throughout the city, county and state level dedicated to protecting the public from natural and man-made disasters. The recognition among the business community that Illinois and Chicago, in particular, are high value targets for criminal and terrorist elements has also helped create a large market for emergency management careers in the private sector.
Emergency Management Organizations in Illinois
At the state level, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) develops initiatives and policies. Within the IEMA is the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, which helps prepare state and local law enforcement to stop and respond to terrorist incidents.
The IEMA is also vigilant in protecting the public from major natural disasters like tornados, snowstorms, and floods. Illinois ranks fifth among U.S. states in the number of tornadoes per year, with an annual average of 46. In 2012, 31 tornadoes in the state caused nine deaths, 112 injuries and almost $4 million in damages. Other severe weather also has proven a major concern including hail and lightning storms. Since 1990, 29 people in the state have been killed from lightning. Flooding has caused 28 deaths in the state since 1995.
State and local agencies are committed to providing assistance to victims of terrorist or natural events. These agencies work with nationally recognized organizations like the American Red Cross, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the Salvation Army to provide food, shelter, medicine, and clothing to those struck by disasters. Most communities have some organization that recruits and trains volunteers to assist following a crisis incident.
How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in Illinois
There is a wide range of emergency management jobs in Illinois, with public and private organizations. A recent posting from CSX, a major transportation company, showcased the most important qualifications for professionals in these roles:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, with a preference in logistics or business
- At least three years of experience in transportation safety, training and intermodal operations
- Ability to provide structured training to diverse groups
- Superior written and oral communication skills
- Operation of common computer applications
- Knowledge of federal policies, agencies and procedures
- Competencies in a wide variety of functions supporting regional managers in producing safe and secure environments
- Independently capable of producing success within company guidelines
Although these criteria may be unique to this industry, the emergency management profession places a premium on academic and professional experience. The majority of emergency management careers in Illinois require at least a baccalaureate degree and many require a master’s degree, in addition to several years of experience.
Many employers prefer candidates who have received training from leading emergency management organizations like the Red Cross or the federal Emergency Management Institute. These courses may be found locally through community chapters or accessed online. The majority of the more highly reputed programs require successful completion of a comprehensive exam prior to accreditation.