What You Should Know About This Degree
Working in emergency services can be extremely stressful. Emergency management personnel often have to work long hours, in dangerous conditions or in remote locations. The ability to remain calm, think critically, make decisions, and communicate effectively, usually in high-pressure situations, is integral to being successful in this field.
Because of the unique pressures of emergency management, many employers find real-world experience to be as beneficial as education. While a master’s degree can provide you with lots of theoretical knowledge about emergency responses, employers want to know that you can apply that knowledge in an actual emergency situation. Before enrolling in a master’s in emergency management program, consider your career goals, and weigh the benefits of advanced education versus on-the-job training.
Professional credentials are another way to signal your expertise to employers. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) grants the Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) and Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) certifications to emergency management professionals. These certifications are not mandatory, but are an added confirmation of your achievement in the field. The process for earning and maintaining these certifications includes paying fees, taking exams, documenting experiential hours, and completing continuing education requirements.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters Emergency Management programs:
- Does this program offer the concentration I want? Many programs offer the option for a concentration within emergency management, in areas such as homeland security, fire administration, public health, and occupational safety. If your career goals require a specialization, make sure you select a program that will allow you the opportunity to focus on your area of interest.
- Does the program have experiential learning requirements? Because of the importance of real-world experience in emergency management, many programs require a hands-on component. This can be true even of online programs, so be sure to review the program’s curriculum carefully. If they require a practicum or internship, make sure you can fit that element into your schedule.
In addition to researching the program’s curriculum and outcomes, be sure to explore the application process and financial aid options. Begin gathering your application materials well before the submission deadline. Talk to program representatives and financial aid counselors about your options for loans, scholarships, and assistantships. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance.