The premier organization for certification in this profession is the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). Some of the reasons in support of certification are:
- To receive recognition of professional competence.
- To join an established network of credentialed professionals.
- To take advantage of enhanced career opportunities.
- To gain access to career development counseling.
- To obtain formal recognition of educational activities.
The first reason seems convincing, as most would prefer to be recognized for their competence in emergency management by their peers. This, in turn, will enhance job prospects and advancement opportunities because the certification will demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and ability to manage effectively a disaster or related event. Before you can begin the application process, you will require at least a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management or related field. To assist those setting out on their educational path, we invite you to read about our top online Bachelor degree programs in Emergency Management.
The most common certification is the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), which has specific criteria to meet before you can sit for the examination. Firstly, applicants must have a minimum of 3 years full-time work experience in disaster/emergency management. During this work experience, you must have participated in an actual disaster, two separate functional exercises, or major public event. Additionally, you need to have had six separate contributions in areas such as professional membership, speaking, publishing articles, serving on volunteer boards or committees, and other areas beyond the scope of the emergency management job requirements. Before applying for the 100-question CEM exam, you will require proof of training hours and a letter of reference accompanying your application.
If the CEM seems too daunting, then there is an alternative known as the Associate Emergency Manager (AEM). This certification is available for individuals who do not meet the CEM criteria.The AEM requires the same 100 hours of emergency training and 100 hours of general management training, plus the letter of reference. For both the AEM/CEM, coursework completed to earn the baccalaureate degree cannot be used to meet any portion of the 100 hours of disaster/emergency management training and/or the 100 hours general management training. Additional details for these certifications can be found at the International Association of Emergency Managers site.
There are other certifications provided at the college level, for example, the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management at the University of Florida. This institution offers a Graduate Certificate in Emergency Services/Disaster Management for individuals with 2 years experience in the profession and who have an undergraduate degree. Working professionals with an associate’s degree in a related field may apply for the Fire and Emergency Services certificate. There are five courses to complete in order to receive this certificate.
To broaden your expertise as an Emergency Management Specialist, the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP) provides a comprehensive online certificate program. This can be completed in as few as 16 hours. The focus of the coursework is to introduce the specialist to a greater scope of emergencies that involve the interaction of various government agencies. Graduates will understand the guiding principles of a successful, comprehensive emergency management program, become aware of terrorism, and be familiar with the incident command system utilized during an emergency response.
As you have read, most of the certifications require work experience in emergency management. Therefore, it is paramount to establish your career before considering adding professional certificates to your resume. Once settled in your emergency management career, you will be able to determine which certificates are best for your line of work. Moreover, you will have a better idea if certification will indeed improve opportunities for advancement and marketability.