How Do You Become an Emergency Management Director?

Anyone who wants to become an emergency management director must have specific credentials, which includes accredited education, relevant experience and government certifications. The first step is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management. These degree programs prepare graduates to become first responder professionals in city, county, state and organizations.

Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Many Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management degrees are now offered online. This allows students to set their own schedules and balance their studies along with life and career commitments. These degrees will teach students about disaster preparedness, risk mitigation, emergency response and coordinated recovery efforts. These undergraduate degrees should be linked to FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute.

Most of these degrees are taught my experienced emergency management professionals, such as police, military, public service and fire personnel, who come from a wide range of fields. These degrees often include a wide range of courses that cover management theory, organizational behavior, innovative leadership, system analysis and business analytics. Many students actually take classes in finance, statistical methods and human resources.

Sample Classes

An emergency management degree will teach students about the techniques and technology behind organizational planning, risk analysis and event management. Students will learn how to successfully handle dangerous events that kill, injure, damage property and destroy economic infrastructure. Students will learn the planning methodologies used to critique and apply social science research and government policies to effective disaster responses.

Learning about business continuity planning provides students with the tools and concepts for managing disruptions, mitigating losses and maintaining critical operations. These degrees always teach students about applicable emergency management laws. There are challenging legal aspects associated with emergency management plans. Emergency operations must take into consideration individual rights and government responsibilities.

Education vs. Experience

Deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree is a hard choice for emergency management professionals. The field of emergency management is becoming more complicated and demanding because the frequency and consequences of these events are increasing. That is, both natural and man-made disasters may result in serious legal and public relations issues for organizations that fail to prevent or mitigate negative impacts. Employers only want emergency management professionals who understand the political nuances socio-economic challenges of disasters.

A degree is mandatory for government employment because it proves the candidates is up-to-date on current policy, theory and regulations than those who only have experience. However, the field of emergency management is moving from a narrowly focused job to a multilevel profession. Education is the key between on-the-job training and relevant work experience. The traditional emergency manager role has expanded beyond planning and response.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Fire Investigator?

Many emergency management degree programs offer specializations that may match career interests. A homeland security concentration will focus on public safety from a national perspective and governmental approach. A health care track will focus on bioterrorism, epidemiology and dangerous infectious diseases. Finally, an environmental emergency management specialization focuses on climate, industry, negligence and transportation accidents. Anyone who wants to become an emergency management director should start an undergraduate degree today.