Emergency Services Degrees: Program Overviews

Oct 14, 2019

Emergency services degree programs are ideal for individuals interested in leadership roles within fire departments or ambulance companies. Undergraduate and graduate programs are available, with opportunities for specialized training.

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Essential Information

Advanced emergency services programs are generally available in two fields: emergency services administration or emergency services management. Coursework varies based on areas of focus, but touches on subjects such as disaster preparedness, risk assessment, environmental hazards, and emergency resource management.

Associate's degree programs provide students with a broad overview of the emergency services field, focusing on the basic principles of emergency care as well as the management and legal aspects of various emergency service professions.

Students in bachelor's degree programs primarily learn to oversee and train personnel to respond to emergencies and serve entire communities. Many students entering the program either have an academic or professional background in emergency services or have emergency service technician certification.

Master's programs provide students with the practical ability to reorganize inefficient emergency services operations at every level by establishing improved protocol or technological equipment along with additional personnel. A practicum may also be required for any of these programs.


Associate of Science in Emergency Services Administration

Such programs are designed for current emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics who are looking to move into leadership roles within their departments. Oftentimes, associate's degree programs are designed to transfer over to baccalaureate degree programs in emergency services administration that focus more expansively on management principles and industry regulations.

High school graduates interested in gaining a fundamental education in emergency services with the hopes of gaining an administrative position in the field can enroll. Classroom lectures included within an associate's degree program in emergency services cover public safety and health care principles as well as basic management techniques. Specific courses include:

  • Introduction to emergency services
  • Disaster preparedness
  • Emergency services and law
  • Emergency services and finance
  • Public emergency management
  • Occupational health and services

Bachelor of Science in Emergency Services Administration

Bachelor's degree programs in emergency services administration are ideal for students interested in achieving management positions within emergency service, fire and rescue, security, or law enforcement agencies. Many technicians or entry-level officers employed are eligible to enroll in a bachelor's degree program to learn the basics of management, safety, and regulations.

A high school diploma and strong grade point average are the primary requirements to gaining acceptance into a bachelor's degree program in emergency services administration. Bachelor's degree programs cover topics related to management principles, organizational leadership in emergency agencies, and regulations. These include:

  • Public program administration
  • Emergency medical services and disaster management
  • Planning for emergency organizations
  • Research methods for emergency public services, politics, and regulations
  • Emergency services administration internship
  • Leadership and management principles

Master of Science in Emergency Services Management

Graduate programs in emergency services management offer further opportunities for individuals to prepare for management and coordinating roles within emergency services organizations. A 2-year program provides students with the training and educational background necessary to coordinate massive relief efforts from one or more disaster response organizations. Aspiring graduate students should submit grade transcripts from a completed baccalaureate program as well as letters of recommendation when applying to enroll in a master's degree program in emergency management. Many schools also require graduate students to complete a GRE or GMAT before applying.

Seminar courses included cover advanced concepts in the field, while a practicum course requires students to apply their knowledge to a practical problem in the emergency services field. Examples of standard courses include:

  • Principles of emergency management and social dimensions of disaster
  • Emergency management and risk assessment
  • Organizational and sustainable development
  • Natural and environmental hazards
  • Interagency emergency management
  • Advanced hazardous materials

Popular Career Options

There are several potential entry-level careers available in the field of emergency services administration, although many are assistant or deputy positions. Possible careers are:

  • Public safety director
  • Safety coordinator
  • Assistant emergency management coordinator
  • Security professional
  • Emergency operations coordinator

Many students enroll in a bachelor's degree program in emergency services administration with the goal of earning a management or leadership position in any one of the following areas:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Emergency service agencies
  • Fire service departments
  • Private security agencies
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Local and state police departments

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

A master's degree in emergency management can help graduates gain leadership roles in a variety of agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, emergency management directors earned median salaries of $74,420 in May 2018, with a 5% projected growth in employment from 2018 to 2028. Some specific examples include:

  • Medical center director of emergency services
  • State emergency management agency program director
  • Homeland security specialist
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agent
  • County or state director of emergency services

Certification Options

Some states offer certification to managers in emergency service organizations. For example, the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association offers an Illinois Professional Emergency Manager designation. Certification is not typically required at this level, but may add a professional boost to individuals seeking career opportunities.

Students interested in gaining leadership roles in the emergency services field have a number of options open to them, including associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in emergency services administration or management.

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