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Careers in Emergency & Disaster Management

Are you looking for a career path where you can serve others and make a difference? Are you interested in preventing, responding to or mitigating emergency situations and disasters? If so, a career in emergency and disaster management (EDM) might be a great fit for you! This guide can serve as a starting point to help you explore career options and discover ways to begin preparing for a future career in the EDM field.

Connect with your Career Coach

careerservices@apus.edu

877-755-2787

 
Exploring Careers

There are many career paths to explore within the EDM field! The following options are only a sampling of the varying directions you can consider. Keep in mind the path you choose may require additional education, certifications, experiences, and/or other qualifications beyond obtaining a degree in emergency and disaster management.

Sample job titles:

  • Business Continuity Planner
  • Campus Security and Safety Director
  • Command and Control Specialist
  • Director of Public Safety
  • Disaster Research Specialist
  • Emergency Management Consultant
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Emergency Management Compliance Officer
  • Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
  • Federal Law Enforcement Officer
  • Fire Chief
  • Fire Fighting and Prevention Supervisor
  • Operations and Training Coordinator
  • Policy Analyst
  • Public Information Officer
  • Public Safety Dispatcher
  • Program Analyst or Manager
  • Security Officer
  • Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff

Your ideal career path may or may not appear in the list above; continue exploring career options until you find a path that aligns with your individual interests and professional goals. In addition, make it a priority to learn as much as possible about your desired career path. The more you know about your target job, the better you can plan and prepare yourself for success.

The following career resources can help you continue your research:

Informational Interviews with EDM Professionals

Curious about what it's like to work in EDM? Here's a great chance to listen and learn! In the following recorded interviews, EDM professionals describe their day-to-day job duties, the joys and challenges of their roles, and a few tips on how aspiring professionals can prepare for their line of work:

Learn how you can conduct your own informational interview by watching Candid Career's "How to Do an Informational Interview".

Getting Involved in Your Community

Getting involved in voluntary safety and emergency response organizations can help you gain new experiences, sharpen your skills, build your professional network, and make a positive impact in people’s lives! Joining a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is just one of many opportunities to volunteer and gain relevant experience in the EDM field. CERT programs exist to provide basic disaster response training and preparedness education to hundreds of communities across the country.  Contact your local emergency management agency about upcoming CERT training opportunities in your area.  

Other volunteer opportunities within your state or local area might include:                 

  • American Red Cross
  • Fire Corps
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Veterans Active in Citizens Corps

For more information about ways to volunteer in your state and local communities, visit ready.gov.

Independent Study Training

Interested in learning more about a specific area of emergency and disaster response? FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute offers free online training courses through their Independent Study Program (ISP). Independent Study courses can help you learn more about the emergency management field and can also be referenced on your resume when applying to relevant job or internship opportunities!

Visit FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute website for more information on upcoming ISP courses and additional training opportunities.

Gaining Experience

Employers gravitate toward hiring candidates who possess relevant, real-world experiences that complement their education. If you have limited experience in your target functional area, there are several ways you can gain relevant new skills and experiences. To brainstorm additional ideas, schedule an appointment with your career coach.

Internships

Internship opportunities can be found at a variety of agencies and organizations across the country. While many opportunities are posted online, others can only be discovered by reaching out to an organization directly.

Below are a few ideas on where you can start your search:

*Please note that while Career Services can help you prepare for the internship application process, the university does not coordinate internships or provide placement services.

Volunteering

Explore volunteer opportunities with your local Office of Emergency Management, CERT team, disaster relief and intervention groups, fire departments, government agencies, neighborhood watch programs, shelters, schools, and hospitals.

If you are currently employed, also consider asking your employer about opportunities to volunteer on safety or emergency response committees at work.

National & Community Service Programs

Consider looking into service-based programs and opportunities through the Corporation for National & Community Service, such as:

  • AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams
  • NCCC FEMACorps

Fellowships

Fellowships can provide invaluable opportunities to gain relevant professional experience. An example of a fellowship program would include the federal Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program.

Building Connections

Building meaningful connections with employers, recruiters, mentors, and industry professionals can help you learn more about a position or field as well as aid you during a future job search. Below are a few ideas on how you can begin establishing new professional relationships.

APUS Virtual Career Fairs

Career Services offers industry-specific virtual career fairs throughout the year, providing students and alumni with opportunities to connect with employers and recruiters. Click here to view our Virtual Career Fairs page in your ecampus and discover upcoming events.

Past participating VCF employers have included*:

  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • U.S. Border Patrol
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

*Please note that past employer participation does not guarantee future employer VCF participation. Please visit our ecampus Virtual Careers Fair page for upcoming event information.

APUS Mentoring Program

Receive coaching, motivation, and guidance from a university mentor. Visit the university's mentoring page to learn more.

Classroom Interactions

Building your professional network can occur right in your classroom! Our Emergency and Disaster Management degree programs are IFSAC accredited and taught by highly credentialed and experienced instructors, many of whom are board-certified emergency managers (CEM) or hold key positions in government agencies or national safety and security organizations. Throughout your degree program, start building a positive rapport with your EDM instructors, and don’t be afraid to ask them about their job roles, career experiences, and any career advice they are willing to share!

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization offers a variety of career and professional development benefits, including the opportunity to network at conferences and other events. There are several professional organizations within the EDM field, so be sure to explore all your options to find the best fit for you. Examples of relevant organizations include:

  • International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)
  • National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)
  • The International Association for Disaster Preparedness & Response (DERA)

LinkedIn

Build your network, connect with employers, and join LinkedIn groups to engage in professional discussions. Examples of LinkedIn groups include:

Advice from our Experts

The following article offers additional advice on exploring career paths or planning for your career in emergency management: