Professionals in crisis management plan for and help communities rebuild after earthquakes, hazardous materials spills, floods and terrorist attacks. Crisis managers prevent the loss of property and life that accompany disasters by identifying resources and understanding how emergency response is shaped by public policy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most emergency management directors have a bachelor's degree in the field, though they often undertake certificate programs to learn additional techniques and skills.
Many universities offer 2-semester undergraduate certificate programs in crisis, emergency or disaster management that can apply toward a bachelor's degree. 1-2 year graduate certificates are available in the same fields. Internships are required by some programs. Courses are commonly available online. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED for an undergraduate certificate program. An undergraduate degree is necessary for graduate level programs.
Some undergraduate certificate programs offer concentrations in specific areas, like crisis management for business and industry, or homeland security. Students in graduate certificate programs learn to identify, respond to and suppress the effects of disasters, as well as help communities regain a sense of normalcy after an emergency. Some specialist programs train nurses or professionals from other specific disciplines.
Undergraduate Certificate in Disaster Management
Students learn about the many ways in which disasters impact modern life, and prepare for continuity planning careers in the private and public sectors. Courses in emergency administration and management cover the following topics:
- Safety administration
- Risk communications
- Post-disaster social vulnerability
- Hazard mitigation
- Emergency management technology
Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management
Preparation for working in advanced positions in homeland security, hazard mitigation and disaster planning involves learning techniques from disciplines like social work, business, psychology and nursing. Core training includes topics in the following:
- Natural resource allocation
- Humanitarian assistance
- Disaster policy
- Crisis communication
Popular Career Options
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of disaster preparedness, various public safety careers use crisis management training. Since applicants to graduate certificate programs are not required to have majored in any particular undergraduate field, they can infuse the crisis and disaster management training with their undergraduate education to qualify for several types of jobs, including:
- Publicly elected official
- Police officer
- Homeland security officer
- Community-based organization administrator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 9,840 emergency management directors were employed in 2015 (www.bls.gov). These professionals earned a median annual salary of $67,330.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) and Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) certifications are available through the IAEM (International Association of Emergency Managers). While the CEM certification requires that candidates have earned a bachelor's degree, the AEM credential is open to non-college graduates (www.iacm.com).
AEM candidates must be able to prove at least 100 hours of hands-on emergency management work and 100 hours of general management training. Credential seekers must pass a multiple-choice, 100-question exam and write an essay. Certification is good for a 5-year term. Recertification candidates must document at least 100 hours of continuing education training and six contributions to the emergency management field within the previous five years.
Certificate programs in disaster management include core courses in public safety protocols and policies, and sometimes involve internships, giving students a well-rounded education in order to prepare them for a myriad of crisis situations faced in the field.