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Disaster Management Degree

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What is Disaster Management?

Crisis, Emergency, and Disaster Management is a field of study emphasizing the application of the incident command model system and the development of effective responses to such events.

The three components of this degree include 1) disaster management, 2) crisis management, and 3) emergency management.  Each of these three disciplines are all tightly intertwined.  In fact, all three components apply to both natural disasters and man-made incidents.

The curriculum within the Crisis, Emergency, and Disaster Management degree program will often include: hazard assessment, contingency planning, law, risk assessment, ethics, emergency response, event mitigation, emergency rescue, medical operations, emergency recovery, terrorism, law enforcement, national security, relief administration, volunteer coordination, public relations, and the application of each to various situations.

Top Degrees in Disaster Management

Students considering a degree in emergency management may find the programs listed in a course catalog as crisis management or disaster management.  While an individual college may vary the curriculum slightly, a similar set of skills will be taught.

These skills will help graduates handle a variety of situations from natural disasters to man-made events.  To help you determine which program best fits your personal and professional goals, we have provided a summary of each program below.

Certificate Programs in Disaster Management

A certificate program in emergency management is the entry-level program offered by many schools.  Certificates are shorter in nature than degree programs that focus on core classes.  You can expect most certificate programs to last around a year for full-time students and longer for part-time students.

At the completion of a certificate program, students should expect to launch a career in an entry-level position.  Diploma programs or certificate programs in disaster preparedness are in great demand given the world’s natural calamities and imminent global threats.

Associate Degrees in Disaster Management

Associate degrees in crisis management is conferred as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) at most colleges and universities.  An associate’s degree will take approximately 2-year of full-time matriculation to complete.

Part-time students should expect the program to last longer as a function of course load and school requirements.  AAS degrees in disaster management fuse general education courses with core classes to provide students will a well-rounded, integrative set of thinking skills.

Core classes found in a school’s course catalog for a crisis management program at the associate’s degree level will often cover very similar skills.  Examples of classes found in an AAS program include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Pharmacology & Cardiology
  • Life Span Development & Psychology of Disaster
  • EMS Operations & Clinical Emergencies
  • Medical Emergencies & Trauma Management
  • Disaster, Recovery, Terrorism, and Emergency Management Skills
  • Public Policy, Ethics, and Legal EMS Issues
  • Risk Mitigation & Operations Continuity
  • Crisis Management Methods and Analysis
  • Economics of Crisis and Crisis Management
  • Community Management & Leadership

Bachelor Degrees in Disaster Management

The bachelor degree track in disaster management will most frequently be found to be conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS).  A bachelor’s degree will generally take 4-years to complete for full time students.

Much like the associate’s degree, the bachelor’s degree melds general education with core classes to provide a well-rounded education.  Bachelor degrees will go deeper and wider in both core curricula and liberal arts classes than lower level degrees.

In addition to the core classes listed above, students can expect to take courses such as critical decision making, legal framework of crisis management, project management, risk perception, public awareness, stakeholder engagement, public communications, natural hazards, socio-cultural dimensions of EMS, and natural disaster theory.

Employment in Crisis Management

For students that earn a college degree in Crisis Management, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from executive, firefighter, police, EMT, detective, forensic scientist, research scientist, budget analyst, private detective, security guard, management analyst, and policy director in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.

Where Do Crisis Management Specialists Work?

Graduates from an emergency management program may find themselves working for a number of institutions including government agencies, private industry, and non-profit organizations.  More specifically, graduates may find employment at FEMA, state government agencies, emergency communication providers, emergency medical providers, private security organizations, local government agencies, and law enforcement agencies.

What are Common Jobs for Crisis Management Professionals?

Popular jobs you may find crisis management and emergency management graduates are vast.  In fact, given the breadth of industries available the number of job titles are quite expansive.  A sampling of common job titles of a crisis management professional includes the following:

Risk Management Consultant Crisis Operations Center Director
Disaster Management Consultant Disaster Management Specialist
Preparedness Management Director Homeland Security Coordinator
Emergency Management Coordinator Logistics Planner
Disaster Management Specialist Emergency Preparedness Specialist
Crisis Management Training Director Emergency Services Director
EMS Director Hazard Mitigation Officer
Disaster Response Consultant Public Safety Director
Crisis Management Planner Crisis Management Consultant
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

Job Growth & Career Outlook in Crisis Management

The job growth in the Crisis, Emergency, and Disaster Management domain are at and above average.  For example, the rate of job growth for Crisis, Emergency, and Disaster Management is expected to rise 6% through 2024 and for EMT a 24% growth rate is expected during the same period.

Given the broad nature of the Emergency Management degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location.  Related fields include training, research, policy, field work, managing, leading, and directing.

Crisis Management Resources

For additional information on emergency management and crisis management, visit the Professional Crisis Management Association (PCMA).   The PCMA offers a host of training, resources, and insights into the world of crisis management.

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