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Disaster and Emergency Management Degree Courses

If you are interested in working for the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, or want to explore a career as an emergency manager or emergency management specialist, you will need to complete an emergency management degree program at an accredited school or training center. Most training programs provide students with intensive classroom and hands-on training for jobs in public safety, public administration, emergency management, environmental science and related fields.

Graduates of emergency management schools are prepared for all types of emergency response situations, and are trained to follow certain procedures, regulations and protocol, while overseeing teams of workers and coordinating different activities.

What is an Emergency Management Degree?

Emergency and disaster management degree programs train students to respond to emergency response situations and prepare for emergencies using certain protocol and procedures. Most students who complete an emergency or disaster management degree learn about:

  • Homeland Security Presidential Directives

  • Disaster preparedness

  • Disaster readiness

  • Domestic incidents

  • National preparedness

  • Local, state and federal laws, policies and procedures

  • Protection regulations related to people, property and data

These degree programs train students how to respond to all types of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and emergencies. Students are trained how to prepare for and handle chemical emergencies, dam failures, earthquakes, fires and wildfires, hazardous material, landslides, hurricanes, heat, nuclear power plant emergencies, thunderstorms, terrorism, volcanoes, winter storms and wildfires.

Types of Disaster Management Courses

Most courses train students in the area of risk and crisis management, disaster recovery, and crisis prevention. Students learn how to be resourceful, how to communicate orders effectively, and how to be active and responsive in emergency situations. Some of the most common courses required for a bachelor or master's emergency management degree include:

  • Principles of Emergency Management

  • Emergency Planning

  • Leadership, Influence and Decision Making

  • Critical Decision Making

  • Emergency Operations Center

  • Resource Management

  • Planning for Terrorism Events

  • Response to Mass Fatalities

  • Mitigation Planning

  • Disaster Resource and Recovery Operations

  • Disaster Exercises

Types of Emergency Management Programs

Most employers prefer to hire graduates who have completed at least a four-year emergency management degree. This is a rapidly growing field and many students chose to complete a master's degree in emergency management so that they can apply for jobs where they plan and implement different types of disaster recovery programs.

The different types of programs available at most emergency management schools include:

  • Associate's Degree in Emergency Management - prepares students for entry-level positions in the field

  • Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management - emergency management programs that typically include an internship component and take at least four years to complete

  • Master of Science in Emergency Management - advanced classes in crisis management, policy implementation and evaluation, and biosecurity

  • Ph.D. in Emergency Management - designed for students who want to focus on the academic and research aspects of the field of emergency management

Attending Emergency Management Schools

Emergency preparedness and disaster recovery programs are available from a handful of government institutions, as well as from accredited schools. Students attending emergency management schools typically take a series of core courses and supplemental courses in fields of operations management, planning and response, terrorism and a capstone course requirement. Some schools also require the student to complete an internship as part of their educational career.

Students who complete a rigorous training program are able to:

  • Administer successful emergency management programs

  • Work with intergovernmental and interagency organizations

  • Use clear oral and written communication strategies to facilitate emergency management projects

  • Identify risk in different situations and design an effective response

  • Coordinate public and private resources effectively in the field of disaster prevention

  • Create plans that mitigate disasters

Careers with a Disaster Management Degree

Individuals who have successfully completed an emergency management training program or have an emergency management degree can explore a variety of rewarding career paths. Most individuals are trained to become emergency management specialists and work for local and state governments, general medical and surgical hospitals, or for emergency and relief service providers.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of emergency management specialists were $52,590 in May 2009.

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Disaster and Emergency Management Degree Courses



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