Organizations & Certifications
International Association of Emergency Managers is the biggest one that I know of. I recently joined. Among the benefits are a career center with a jobs board and a monthly 16-24 page newsletter. IAEM is also the regulating body for achieving Certified Emergency Manager, which is the most recognized certification in the industry. They also offer the lower status Associate Emergency Manager. I'm currently working toward CEM.
National Emergency Management Association is not one I've joined at this time. It is more geared to the state-level directors and agency heads.
Virginia Emergency Management Association is my state's association. They offer training courses, an annual symposium, and four state certifications: Professional Emergency Manager, Associate Emergency Manager, Certified Emergency Management Assistant, and Emergency Management Volunteer. I'm a member and currently have the CEMA designation.
There are many other EMAs for states, regions, women, military, pretty much any subcategory you can think of. Look around for one that might be applicable to you if you're interested.
So, how can you work toward a career in emergency management? If you are young, say 25 and below, I'd do the following:
- Get a degree in the field
- While in college, volunteer as a firefighter or in the C.E.R.T. program (more on that later)
- Get a job with a major fire department and seek out specialized training in HazMat and emergency management. Try for promotions to positions specifically involved in EM. Also, don't be afraid to look for employment with other government agencies for EM or achieving one of the many business continuity certifications and going to work for a private corporation.
For those who are older and established in a career already also have options. First, seek out the numerous free training offerings from FEMA. If possible, work toward a degree associated with EM. If you already have a degree in something else, an on-line Associates to add to what you have or a Masters to expand upon it would be great additions. Next, volunteer with your local fire department, emergency operations center, or C.E.R.T. program. Through all this, see what you can do with your current employment to add to your experience. If you are a store manager, maybe you can develop a local emergency plan or schedule drills around an existing plan. If you are a contractor, try adding hurricane-strength roofs, doors and shutters to what you offer or volunteer to help rebuild in other countries after disasters, bringing back your experiences to share with your local EM people. Maybe you're an advertising person - you can offer to work with your local EOC to promote preparedness in your city. This may or may not help you in a career transition, but it could open up other areas of your current career toward involvement in EM.
In addition to being a refreshing mint, C.E.R.T. is also Community Emergency Response Team. These are community volunteers who are trained and equipped to assist in emergencies. Kind of like a grown up Civil Air Patrol program. C.E.R.T. is growing and spreading all over the nation, and can provide some excellent training to those who have never been involved in any kind of emergency services and want to be, but without the time and training commitments of volunteer firefighter, rescue squad paramedic or auxiliary police officer. There are leadership and instructor development opportunities and large localities may even have a paid position or two for C.E.R.T. coordinators.
Most C.E.R.T. groups issue basic gear, but our sponsor, Essential Packs, has some cool C.E.R.T. equipment and accessories.
A career in EM is not for everyone. If you are a prepper, and looking for ways to make it more a part of your lifestyle, then it might be something you want to consider.
Are there any EM professionals who are reading If It Hits The Fan?