Emergency Response Degree Program Information

Oct 14, 2019

Emergency response associate and bachelor's degree programs are available for students with no experience as well as those who are already working in emergency response roles and are interested in expanding their skills and knowledge.

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Essential Information

Emergency response professionals develop and implement plans and policies in order to respond to events and disasters. Emergency response degree programs offer hands-on training opportunities in these areas. Students develop leadership skills through courses in emergency management, personnel management and conflict resolution.

Current emergency response workers can benefit from flexible scheduling, so that they may continue working while pursuing their degree. Additionally, program graduates can earn voluntary certification through the International Association of Emergency Managers and meet specific licensing requirements necessary through their state.

Typically, only a high school diploma is necessary to enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program. However, some bachelor's degrees are offered as 2-year degree-completion programs and require applicants to have earned an associate degree. Some schools might also require emergency medical technician training and basic certification.

Associate Degree in Emergency Response & Operations

An associate degree program in emergency response introduces students to medical procedures in urgent situations. Some 2-year programs emphasize fire department response methods and are most appropriate for firefighters or emergency respondents seeking to develop additional skills. Other programs incorporate firefighter and emergency medical technician training as a component of the program.

A combination of general education classes and professional coursework make up the curricula for emergency response associate degree programs. Students could choose to focus primarily on fire safety, emergency management or homeland security topics. Common courses include:

  • Emergency management planning
  • Hazard mitigation
  • Disaster recovery
  • Public policy and education
  • Contingency planning
  • Societal effects of disasters

Bachelor's Degree in Emergency Response Management

A bachelor's degree in emergency response management prepares students to provide leadership and administration skills needed to coordinate local, state or federal agency response to natural and man-made disasters. Some 4-year programs are available in a variety of flexible formats, such as online or evenings, to meet the needs of working professionals.

A bachelor's degree program in emergency management blends emergency response and management training. Course topics could include:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Personnel management
  • Political issues in emergency management
  • Program evaluation
  • Operations planning
  • Disaster planning and response

Career Options

Graduates with an associate degree in emergency response can apply learned knowledge to their current profession or pursue entry-level work in public service or administration. Specific roles might include:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Public works officials

Career Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of emergency management directors was expected to grow about 5% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). A degree and professional credentials should improve employment opportunities, though jobs that offer higher salaries and better benefits could increase competition. In May 2018, the BLS reported the median salary for emergency management directors was $74,420 per year.

Continuing Education and Licensing Information

Several voluntary professional certification options exist for emergency response professionals. The International Association of Emergency Managers is a non-profit organization that administers a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credential for those seeking to establish professional competence. Emergency response workers could also participate in first aid and CPR for professional rescuers through the American Red Cross.

Licensure is required for emergency medical response workers and paramedics in all states, though specific requirements vary. Some professionals could earn national certification to satisfy state requirements, though some states require individuals to take state-administered licensure exams. Continuing education is generally required to renew a license every 2-3 years.

An associate degree program in emergency response can equip students with the necessary medical skills needed to earn licensure and begin careers as emergency medical response workers, while a bachelor's degree program in emergency response management prepares students for work as emergency managers.

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