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Working in the field of emergency management offers you a diverse career path full of adventure. You could work in disaster services and help people during dark times. By choosing this industry, you could have the opportunity to travel and work in various sectors involving public safety.

The truth is that emergency management may mean more than you realize. It is an opportunity for you to change people’s lives and choose your own path. So what more should you know about working in emergency management?

What Are the Four Key Principles for Emergency Management?

There are four phases of emergency management, and as an emergency management professional, you could work in any or all of them.

1.    Mitigation

At this phase, the goal is to reduce the impact of an emergency if it should happen. Unfortunately, there is no way to control natural disasters. Instead, in emergency management, you will try to ensure they cause the least damage possible by performing risk assessments.

A risk assessment allows you to identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities. For example, you could seek a position with a local hospital to ensure they can reduce the impact of a regional power outage by having generators and back-up lighting. In addition, you might evaluate the hospital structure to see what changes could strengthen it and make it more likely to remain standing after a hurricane or earthquake.

2.    Preparedness

After the risk assessment, changes are made to ensure preparedness, or a state of readiness. This phase is a continuing cycle of planning, training, updating, evaluating, and improving response capabilities and the necessary assets if an emergency occurs.

The preparedness phase is about developing response strategies to implement in an emergency. How to best triage patients, for example, or running a disaster exercise to ensure they are prepared for a mass casualty event.

3.    Response

The response phase covers mobilization in an emergency, such as a fire, hurricane, or a terrorist attack. During the preparedness phase, the emergency response is outlined, trained, and exercised. It determines where law enforcement is most needed, and what first responders should do. The response phase is when emergency services are called into action to save lives, contain the emergency, and protect property and the environment.

4.    Recovery

This phase occurs after the response phase starts to end. It is about making communities whole again, rebuilding, and restoring what was lost. Helping communities restore their infrastructure and other lifelines will help them recover faster from a major disaster.

In the recovery phase, emergency management focuses on restoring the power grid, rebuilding homes and businesses, resuming employment, repairing roads and bridges, and getting the economy going again.

These four phases are the very heart of emergency management.

What Is It Like Working in Emergency Management?

Working in emergency management is an exciting and demanding career path. However, it feels like any other job on some days. You go to the office, have meetings, update emergency plans, and review budgets. The difference is that you are always on call in case of an emergency or disaster.

Your job is one of coordination and administration. You must assign tasks and ensure everyone works efficiently and in the public’s interest. When the call comes, you rush to the site of an impending or recent natural disaster to offer a variety of assistance.

What Skills Would You Need to Work as an Emergency Management Specialist?

Emergency management specialists work in disaster environments, so they need to stay calm and organized under pressure. Other skill sets necessary to succeed in this role include:

  • Critical thinking – You must be able to think on your feet, often in the face of challenging circumstances and under considerable pressure. Since it is difficult to know what is needed in a disaster area, you will have to be able to make changes to strategies quickly to accommodate the unexpected.
  • Communication – Emergency management specialists also need to know how to talk to people and get their points across. Often, the people you are dealing with are under pressure or duress. Survivors of a natural disaster may be living their worst nightmare and need information on what to do next and resources to help piece their lives back together
  • Time management – The tasks you will need to perform and the decisions you make are often time-sensitive. You will need to be able to manage your time well and multitask to get everything accomplished.
  • Delegation – Ultimately, emergency management specialists cannot do it all themselves. They need to be good at delegating tasks to others and supervising groups of people.

These skills will help you succeed in the many facets of emergency management careers and make a difference in the communities you serve.

How Should You Prepare for a Job in Emergency Management?

There are multiple steps you can take to ensure success in the field of emergency management, starting with earning a degree.

Emergency Management Education Requirements

As with many career designations, success in the field of emergency management starts with earning your degree. Ideally, you want to get a bachelor’s degree in emergency management and homeland security, two complementing career fields. Not all jobs in emergency management require a college education. However, earning a degree could help you can get into top agencies and positions in the field. Once you complete the program, you might get an entry-level job or internship to help you begin to build your career.

Helpful Training and Experience

You also want to gain experience in the field. FEMA offers a reservists program that includes training. This is an on-call program, so it could take you anywhere in the country.

You can also consider joining a local Community Emergency Response Team. Some rural areas have volunteer fire and rescue squads that come with training and offer valuable experience.


You can get multiple certifications to advance your resume and career options. For example, depending on your level of experience, you might sit for the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) or the Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) exams to acquire one of these certifications.

You can join training programs and get certifications before, during, or after you go to school. Many volunteer programs include emergency management training that you can use when working toward your degree.

Emergency Management Careers

Once you have your emergency management degree, you can pursue several career options.

Emergency Management Specialist

The entry-level position in this field is emergency management specialist. Their job includes planning for disasters, coordinating teams when one hits, and training others like first responders. They work before, during, and after a natural, technological, or man-made disaster.

There are jobs as emergency management specialists in federal, state, and local governments. They also work in the private sector. The need for these professionals is increasing as the world sees more weather-related disasters. Employment opportunities have tripled since 1990 and will continue to rise.

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors create strategies for responding to disasters and then teach them to team members and first responders. Most of these jobs are found in government agencies at the state or local level. They may also work in large organizations such as hospitals, universities, or private companies.

Disaster Recovery Manager

Disaster recovery managers design and implement recovery plans for an organization or locality. They can work in the private sector or at the local, state, tribal, or federal level. They serve as the primary point of contact for the State Disaster Recovery Coordinator. FEMA recommends that local governments have a disaster recovery manager to coordinate with them in case of a disaster.

Safety Coordinator

Safety coordinators, sometimes called occupational Health and Safety specialists, plan and implement safety protocols for large organizations such as healthcare networks or corporations. It is their job to ensure staff compliance with rules and adherence to Occupational Health and Safety guidelines.

The BLS states that this role is growing faster than average, with up to 6,300 additional jobs expected by 2031.

If you are considering a career in the exciting and rewarding field of emergency management, the first step is to find the right program. Post University offers a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security to get you started.

This program is available both on campus and online. It will take you through the four phases of emergency management and help you develop the necessary skills to succeed. You will participate in notional disaster scenarios and create an emergency plan that addresses defined hazards or threats as a part of a capstone project.

At Post University, we understand that returning to school can be challenging. Therefore, we offer our emergency management students flexibility. They can attend classes during the day or in the evening. They can also opt for a self-paced online program with one-on-one support.

Find out more about what Post University can offer you today by visiting our website and requesting more information about our emergency management and homeland security program.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.