As an emergency management and homeland security professional, you will oversee the preparation of plans and procedures for responding to terrorist attacks and natural disasters, among other similar events. These emergency management professionals also assist in leading the response both during and after the emergency, in close coordination with public safety stakeholders, public officials, nonprofit groups and state, local and federal agencies.
Emergency management and homeland security managers and directors are usually responsible for doing research on best practices from across the country and from many other emergency management organizations. As a manager or director in charge of these critical emergency planning procedures, you also need to ready plans and procedures that meet state, local and federal regulations.
What Is Homeland Security & Emergency Management?
Homeland security and emergency management professionals usually have the following types of duties:
- Assessing hazards and making preparations to respond to many types of disasters and emergencies to reduce the risk to property and people.
- Meet with public safety officers, private organizations, and the public to make recommendations about emergency response plans.
- Organize training programs for emergency response so that staff, volunteers and first responders are ready for an emergency.
- Coordinate the way in which resources are shared in the community and across several communities to help in the response to an emergency.
- Perform analysis and damage assessments after an emergency or disaster.
- Review all emergency plans that have been drawn up by various organizations and at medical facilities to ensure that they will meet the need.
- Apply for federal funds as needed for emergency management planning and recovery after a disaster.
- Review all local emergency operations and provide revisions and enhancements as needed.
During an emergency event, a homeland security and emergency management professional will normally keep a command center where various personnel manage and monitor the response to the emergency. As the leader or manager, you will be responsible for ensuring that the response is effective and to make adjustments as needed as events unfold.
For example, you may need to order an evacuation, do rescue missions for community members, or open up new public shelters to provide a place to stay for those who were affected by the emergency. Managers or directors in this capacity also may need to do press conferences to keep the public informed about the emergency situation.
There is little doubt that the need for emergency management directors and homeland security managers is on the increase. It is becoming clearer by the year that it is important for cities, states and counties to have action plans in place to deal with serious emergencies – from major weather events to terrorism.
It is for that reason that employment of emergency management professionals is expected to rise by 8% through 2026, which is about as fast as average when viewed alongside other professions.
It is becoming more understood that it is necessary to plan and prepare for risks from various types of emergencies across the country. This should help to increase the demand for various employment possibilities for emergency management and homeland security professionals. More of these skilled, degreed emergency management professionals will be needed to also help organizations and some businesses to plan for emergencies so that they can still operate under the most strenuous conditions.
One of the possibly limiting factors in hiring for these emergency preparedness professionals is that state and local governments fund these types of workers and their agencies. Not all counties have the funds to hire full time emergency management personnel. Some of their work may be done by contractors, or may be assigned to the police or fire department.
It also is thought according to the BLS that there will be many retirements in the next 10 years in the emergency management sector that could lead to new opportunities for new graduates.
BLS reports that homeland security and emergency management professionals with degrees most often work in the areas below. There are a total of 10,100 of these jobs in the US as of 2016.
- Local government, not including hospitals and education: 52%
- State government, not including hospitals and education: 12%
- Hospitals; local, state and private: 8%
- Professional, technical and scientific services: 6%
- Colleges and universities: 5%
Those who earn their degree in the emergency management and homeland security field may also find work in the police department, EMT department, fire department or even in the budget analysis field for a government agency.
The median salary for all emergency management directors in 2016 according to government data was $70,500. The top 10% earned in excess of $133,000 per year. The median income in the various industries that employ emergency management professionals was as follows:
- Colleges and universities: $88,100
- Professional, technical and scientific services: $86,400
- Hospitals: $78,300
- Local government: $64,400
- State government: $60,200
Most emergency management professionals work for state and local governments. However, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are frequently hiring homeland security and emergency management professionals for local disaster work.
For example, FEMA currently as of October 2017 is seeking applicants to work on its hurricane recovery teams. Approximately 85% of the FEMA staff works in local areas in the aftermath of natural disasters. The agency currently is seeking to increase its workforce in areas that were affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as Maria and Nate.
Students who are interested in a career in emergency management operations may choose to earn a bachelor’s degree in emergency management and homeland security. This type of program will give you the necessary exposure to risk management, threat assessment, security and safety planning and related subjects. Professionals who graduate from this bachelor’s program can usually work as safety directors, surveillance directors, security officers, private security coordinators and homeland security specialists.
A master’s degree in homeland security and emergency management can provide you with excellent government service opportunities. You can qualify for an upper level management role in many areas of the state and federal government. Some professionals with such a master’s degree also many work in security for private sector and nonprofit organizations.
Some students may opt to earn a homeland security and emergency management degree online. This can be a good move if you are working part or full time and have personal obligations. It is common for professionals in homeland security and emergency management to earn a master’s degree after hours online so that they can move up the pay scale ladder in the state and federal government.
Arizona State University’s master’s program has these requirements to be considered for admission:
- Official transcripts
- Evidence of employment in the emergency management field
- Two letters of recommendation
- Written statement that describes educational background and future career goals in emergency management
Arizona State University offers a master’s degree in this field with the following courses required:
- Seminar on the Nature of Crime
- Hazards Governance
- Program Evaluation for Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Applied Data Analysis in Criminal Justice
- Homeland Security
- Integrated Emergency Management
- Geographic Information Systems
Some universities may offer specializations in this field. For example, Arizona State University offers the following specializations:
- Biosecurity and threat management
- Community resilience
- Emergency management
- Homeland security
The field of emergency management and homeland security is recognized today of growing importance to keep the US safe from various types of emergencies. Professionals interested in this career field should be able to find grants and scholarships available to help them finance their education:
- Addison E. Slayton Jr. Scholarship: $1000
- Anthony J. Messina Scholarship: $500
- Aubrey Rivenbark Scholarship Award: $1500
- Captain Jonathan C. Young Memorial Scholarship: $1000
- DHS Scholarship Program; $5000
- Dilling-McDaniel Scholarship Fund: Various amounts
- Donald Althoff Memorial Scholarship: $2000
- Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship: $2000
- Heather Westphal Memorial Scholarship Award: $2000
If you want to increase your qualifications in the emergency management field, you may consider the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) designation. Those who get this credential have verified that they have training that makes them qualified to lead a full service emergency management organization or program. Getting this certification requires an undergraduate degree, 100 training hours in emergency management and related work experience.
Consider belonging to these associations if you want to enhance your emergency management career prospects:
- National Emergency Management Association
- International Association of Emergency Managers
- Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association
Obtaining a degree in homeland security and emergency management will provide you with the opportunity to enjoy a high level of demand in work with the government, nonprofits and private organizations.
- Emergency Management Directors. (2015, Dec. 18). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm
- Emergency Management Homeland Security Bachelor’s Degree. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.franklin.edu/emergency-management-homeland-security-bachelors-degree-program