Disaster Management Certificate Program Information

Disaster management professionals help communities prepare for and recover from catastrophes. Certificate training programs are found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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Essential Information

Certificate programs in disaster and emergency management prepare students for public safety careers. Duties include helping organizations and communities prepare for and recover from situations like terrorist attacks, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes. They are available as both undergraduate programs and graduate programs and can be completed online. Although a high school diploma or GED is the educational prerequisite, some programs require applicants to have previous work experience.

Graduate certificate programs in disaster management are generally designed for experienced professionals in the field who desire to expand their training and gain management experience. This certificate is offered through stand-alone programs and as an accompaniment to graduate degrees in fields like public health. Some programs are specifically designed to meet the education requirements to become a Certified Emergency Manager. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, and while some specialist emergency management programs are designed for professionals in fields like nursing, most simply require that admission seekers have at least two years of relevant management experience. In total, most of these programs take one to two years to complete.

Undergraduate Certificate in Disaster Management

Students in undergraduate programs prepare for entry-level private sector and governmental continuity planning positions by learning about the far-reaching impacts that disasters have on human lives. Students in these programs learn to identify resources, prevent loss of life and property, and analyze how political policies affect the ability to respond to emergencies. Specialization options include homeland security and business administration and management. Here are some possible course topics:

  • Emergency management technology
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Risk communications
  • Safety administration
  • Social vulnerability after disasters

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Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management

Accelerated certificates take five to eight weeks to complete, while non-accelerated programs take two semesters to finish. Students in prepare for advanced careers in disaster planning, homeland security and hazard mitigation by pursuing advanced studies in areas such as psychology, business, nursing and social work. Core training includes the following areas:

  • Crisis communication
  • Disaster policy
  • Humanitarian assistance
  • Natural resource economics
  • Toxicology

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) offers certification programs for Associate Emergency Managers (AEM) and Certified Emergency Managers (www.iaem.com). Applicants for the AEM credential must have at least 100 hours of training in general management as well as 100 contact hours in emergency management. Applicants must also submit reference letters, write an essay, and pass a 100-question, multiple-choice examination. Certification is valid for five years; recertification requires the submission of documentation proving at least 100 hours of continuing education and six recent contributions to the field.

Students may also choose to pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in emergency management and planning or emergency and disaster management, which may be offered online. Graduates of four-year bachelor's degree programs are eligible to apply for the IAEM's Certified Emergency Manager credential.

After earning a bachelor's degree, students can enroll in a master's or doctoral degree program in the field. These programs provide advanced training that prepares graduates to develop and utilize existing resources to protect the population. Graduate students take courses in intelligence analysis, technology, logistics and physical security.

Popular Career Options

Graduates are prepared to pursue a variety of careers related to public safety. Depending on their other educational experiences, students who earn graduate certificates may be qualified for some of the following jobs:

  • Community service administrator
  • Firefighter
  • Police officer
  • Private security officer
  • Publicly elected official

To summarize, students who are interested in earning a certificate in disaster management can study the subject at either the undergraduate or the graduate level. Both levels prepare students for careers handling a myriad of emergency situations, ranging from floods to hazardous material spills.

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