Kick-Start Your Public Health Career

Whether you're in public health already or looking to break into the field, a specialized degree in disaster science and emergency management may just be the career booster you need. Over the past two hundred years or so, emergency management has slowly taken shape as a rewarding and lucrative career.


According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, the very first example of U.S. federal involvement in a local disaster was in 1803, when "a Congressional Act was passed to provide financial assistance to a New Hampshire town devastated by fire." Over the next 150 years, though, Congress would continue to pass ad hoc legislation to deal with disasters as they arose. It wasn't until 1961 that president John F. Kennedy brought disaster management under the direction of the executive branch through the creation of the Office of Emergency Preparedness.

A series of national natural disasters throughout the '60s and early '70s solidified the idea that natural disaster preparedness comes under the umbrella of the federal government. Since 1978, national emergency preparedness has been under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose head reports directly to the President. As these agencies took shape, so too did the professional field of emergency management.

Emergency Management Education Today

Today, a number of colleges offer bachelor's degrees in emergency management. Students learn the full gamut of disaster preparedness, from government structures and legal issues to psychological issues in times of crisis.

These programs offer a number of formats for varied types of learners, with some schools even offering fully online degrees -- an arrangement that's perfect for the working student. Because of such flexibility, both traditional and nontraditional students are finding rewarding careers in emergency management.

In the LSUA Bachelor of General Studies degree program, foundation courses like Personality Psychology cover the human aspects of dealing with disasters, while those like Financial Accounting or Principles of Management cover the organizational aspects. Enrichment courses like Technology and Emergency Management prepare students in the application of current and emerging technology to emergency and disaster management.

Job Outlook

Graduates from these programs find strong job prospects for emergency managers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in emergency management will grow 8 percent over the next ten years -- at pace equal to the national average.

Further, the BLS shows that as of May 2016, the median salary for emergency management directors is $70,500, well above the national average for all professions. While such a position comes with time and dedication to the career, emergency management provides a rewarding career for many. In addition to the lucrative aspects, emergency management positions come with high job satisfaction.

According to a study conducted by FEMA in 2007, emergency management professionals overwhelmingly possess a sense of purpose: "92.1 percent felt their individual work was important" and "82.3 percent felt that their individual work related to agency [FEMA] goals."

Whether you are looking to boost your current career in emergency management or just getting started in the field, a bachelor's degree in Disaster and Emergency Management may be the right path for you. The money is certainly a big draw, but more importantly, emergency managers overwhelmingly report having purpose in their work -- the recipe for a rewarding career.

Learn more about the LSUA online Bachelor of General Studies - Psychology program.


FEMA: Introduction to Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management Concepts [Download]

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Emergency Management Directors

FEMA: FEMA Employee Survey Shows Personal Job Satisfaction, Areas for Agency Improvement

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