Many veterans seek careers in ambulance, police, and fire departments after leaving the military. For those interested in careers related to fire and emergency management, military experience can play an important role in getting hired, training, and promotion.
How does your military experience provide an advantage when applying for fire and emergency management jobs? And do military members need Fire and Emergency Management degrees to supplement their military experience?
How Direct Experience Counts
By “direct experience” we are talking about military career fields and operations that are distinctly labeled as emergency management. Two excellent examples of this can be found in the Air Force and the Army, which both advertise career fields in emergency management. The Air Force description includes the following:
“Whether it’s a natural disaster…or man-made as a result of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incident, Emergency Management specialists are trained for response and recovery operations anywhere in the world. Additionally, these professionals develop plans to ensure all other Air Force personnel are trained to meet mission needs and to minimize casualties and damage in the event of any disaster situation.”
The Army version of the emergency management career field involves three tracks, any one of which a soldier may find themselves interested in working:
- US Army Medical Command
- Installation Emergency Management
- US Army Corps of Engineers
This kind of direct military experience in emergency management is a huge plus for anyone considering doing the work outside the U.S. military. An emergency management agency will be interested in hiring people with practical experience and training, but depending on the type of positions to be filled, that training may or may not include a military member’s specific area of expertise.
Not All Emergency Management Training Applies Across The Board
That means that those with extensive training and experience in fire fighting, flightline operations, and crash recovery would not necessarily be qualified to get an emergency management job where radioactive material containment or hazardous waste management are the skills required. Emergency management is a big field and it helps to narrow down what kinds of specialties and skills you want to develop or continue using outside the military.
Direct experience counts for a great deal, but if you have skill sets you need to learn, it’s best to try to diversify your resume by taking classes, working toward a degree, etc.
Emergency Management Careers Feature A Diverse Range Of Job Requirements
Why do we say this? Let’s look at some job descriptions for emergency management positions. Here’s one posted by the U.S. Department of Energy, which includes the following job responsibilities:
- Enhances regional/radiological emergency planning and response capabilities and offers 24-hour emergency response assistance to resolve radiological/nuclear emergencies and incidents.
- Provides expert evaluation of the health threats and environmental consequences associated with releases of radioactive materials.
- Serves as a principal interface with headquarters, other Regional Program Managers, DOE/NNSA incident response assets, and other Federal, state, tribal, and local agencies to support radiological/nuclear emergency planning and preparedness activities.
Compare that to a job posting by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seeking an Emergency Management Specialist. The job requirements here include:
- Conducting mission-oriented analyses of difficult and complex survivor-centric emergency response and assistance issues.
- Analyzing the efficiency and effectiveness or programs and advises on new developments, changing emphasis, or other events which could greatly impact the effectiveness of program delivery.
- Developing plans to ensure the capability to continue essential functions during All Hazard events.
- Performing as a spokesperson at regional conferences, meetings, committees and working groups that propose, defend and/or criticize continuity and emergency response criteria, in order to promote and maintain a proactive response posture.
These two jobs couldn’t be more different, but the basic requirements for each include a background in emergency operations, and certain higher education or continuing education may also be a necessity for obtaining or maintaining employment in these agencies.
Career Tips For Emergency Management Careers
- Consider signing up for independent coursework in emergency management.
- Volunteer with state, county or local emergency management resources.
- Sign up for emergency management trade publications.
- Join an emergency management professional association.
- Contact FEMA or visit the FEMA official site to learn of emergency management opportunities (paid or volunteer) near you.
Higher Education Opportunities In Emergency Management
There are plenty of colleges and universities that offer emergency management degrees (see below) but the Federal Emergency Management Agency also provides training programs in a variety of areas. FEMA training programs include, but are not limited to:
- Advanced Professional Series (APS)
- Community Rating System Resource Center
- Continuity of Operations (COOP)
- Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience
- EMI School Program
- HazMat Exercise Material
- Incident Command System / Unified Command System
- Master Exercise Practitioner Program (MEPP)
- National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- National Dam Safety Program
- National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
- Professional Development Series (PDS)
- Trainer Program (TP)
To enroll in these programs or learn more about them, visit the FEMA official site at www.training.FEMA.gov. There are resident courses and non-resident options available depending on the program and other factors.
This kind of training can be a valuable addition to military experience, but certain emergency management work may require an undergraduate or graduate degree. The higher your career goes in this field, the more important a degree might be for jobs in management and upper management.
Colleges That Offer Emergency Management Degrees
According to the FEMA official site, the following colleges offer degrees in emergency management at the undergraduate level (Bachelor’s degree). FEMA does not endorse any institution of higher learning specifically, but the agency does work with these institutions to develop training programs that are relevant to today’s emergency management needs.
- Adelphi University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Adelphi University – BS in Emergency Services Administration
- American Public University – Bachelor of Arts in Emergency and Disaster Management
- Anderson University – Bachelor of Emergency Services Management
- Arizona State University – Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management/Homeland Security
- Arizona State University – Bachelor of Science Public Service and Public Policy Emergency Management/Homeland Security
- Arkansas State University – Bachelor of Science in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
- Arkansas Tech University – Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Management
- Barry University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Bellevue University – BS in Emergency Management International Disaster Relief/Humanitarian Assistance
- Columbia College – Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management
- Crown College, School of Online Studies – Bachelor of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management
- Drury University – Associate and/or Bachelor of Science degrees in Emergency Management
- Eastern Michigan University – Bachelor of Science in Public Safety
- Eastern New Mexico University – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences, Minor in Emergency Management, and a Certificate in Emergency Management
- Elizabeth City State University – BS in Emergency Management
- Everglades University – Bachelor of Science in Crisis and Disaster Management
- Franklin University – Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Grand Canyon University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management Program
- Idaho State University Meridian – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Immaculata University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Planning and Management
- Indiana Tech – BS in Emergency Response Management
- Jacksonville State University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management with a Minor in Homeland Security or Public Safety Telecommunications
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services Administration
- Kansas Wesleyan University – Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management
- Kaplan University – Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management
- Lee University – BA or BS Disaster and Healthcare Mission Management
- Louisiana State University – BA or BS in Geography with Concentration in Disaster Science and Management
- Louisiana State University – Undergrad Minor in Disaster Science and Management
- Madonna University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy – Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
- Mercer University – Online Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Metropolitan College of New York – Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management & Business Continuity
- North Dakota State University Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
- Northern Arizona University, Extended Campuses – BAS and BIS in Emergency Management
- Northwest Missouri State University – Bachelor of Science and Minor in Emergency and Disaster Management
- Notre Dame College of Ohio – BA in EM and Policy Studies
- Ohio Christian University – Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management and Business Program
- Ohio Christian University – Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management and Business Program (Double Major)
- Pacific Union College – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Pennsylvania College of Technology – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management Technology (BEM)
- Pierce College – BAS in HS EM
- Pikes Peak Community College – Bachelor of Applied Science: Emergency Service Administration
- Post University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Purdue University Global – Bachelor of Science in Fire and Emergency Management
- Saint Louis University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Savannah State University – Homeland Security and Emergency Management Bachelor of Arts Degree
- Southwestern College – Bachelor of Science Degree in Security Management
- SUNY Canton – Bachelor of Technology in Emergency and Disaster Management
- Texas Southern University – Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security (EHMS)
- Truckee Meadows Community College – Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security EM
- Union Institute and University – BS in Emergency Services Management
- University at Albany – Major in Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity
- University of Akron – Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
- University of Alaska, Fairbanks – Bachelor of Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- University of Central Missouri – Bachelor of Science Degree in Crisis and Disaster Management
- University of Central Florida – BA/BS in Emergency Management
- University of Findlay – Bachelor of Science in Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Management
- University of Nebraska at Omaha – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- University of Nebraska at Omaha – Minor in Emergency Management
- University of North Texas – Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
- University of North Texas – BS in Emergency Admin and Planning
- Utah Valley University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services Administration-Emergency Management
- Upper Iowa University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency & Disaster Management
- Voorhees College – Bachelor of Science Major in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Waldorf University – BAS in Emergency Management with Optional Concentrations in Fire Science or Homeland Security
- Waldorf University – BA in Emergency Management with Optional Concentrations in Fire Science or Homeland Security
- West Texas A&M University – Emergency Management Administration Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science
- Western Carolina University – Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
- Western Illinois University-Bachelor of Science Degree in Emergency Management
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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