Can I Get Into Emergency Management in the Private Sector With my Military Background?

When disaster strikes there is little surprise when the military is called to give its support. After all, for more than 200 years America’s military has not only fought out wars, but given its support whenever there have been need in times of crisis. Further, who is better experienced when it comes time to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for countless numbers of people, sometimes with little more than overnight notice? It is for these reasons that practically anyone from a military background would find themselves in good order if they decided to enter the civilian job market in some disaster management capacity. This article outlines what might be called for as far as requirements as well as the qualifications that many in today’s military could provide.

Training + Military

As the story has been told so many times and in so many ways, the skills our soldiers learn in the military can often be easily translated into the civilian market. Some of the most common would be accounting, food service, management, and others, but there are many of the more visceral that lend themselves equally well.

Today’s soldiers are some of the best educated, trained, and physically fit to ever be put on a field. They are also trained to lead others, coordinate other people and material, and much more. They are mission-oriented and unwilling to accept defeat. When given a mission they will not quit until that mission is accomplished.

In the Field of Disaster Management

If all of this sounds a lot like the skills that would be necessary if someone was faced with dealing with a disaster or some other kind of crisis, you would be right. Disasters mean people who need to be fed, clothed, and sheltered and quickly as possible. For this reason, first responders need to know how to coordinate, transport, organize, and distribute mountains of equipment, supplies, to the people who need the help. This calls for not only uniformed personnel, but armies of other support personnel who are called upon to do everything from making meals to serving, coordinating the erection of housing facilities, security, and much more. It’s literally building another temporary city where one has been destroyed, not to mention everything and everybody who is dedicated to getting everything where it needs to be as quickly as possible.

Building Credentials

Unfortunately, the most effective means of getting a job in the emergency management field is not often very clear. In fact, many of those working in the field got into it via other–sometimes related, sometimes not–fields such as fire or police training. Some of those in the emergency management field gained their experience by working in other fields and getting into it by volunteering for emergency response or rescue teams, or other avenues.

Interestingly enough, one look at FEMA’s website will give those interested in getting into the field an excellent list of degree programs that are available for the most part online. Other than these, some colleges and universities offer advanced degrees in Public Administration with concentrations in emergency management. There are a few, George Washington University as an example, that offer an exclusively emergency management master’s degree.

Since the events of 9/11 and recent natural disasters, there has been a renewed interest in emergency management as a career. Even those events themselves have gone a long way to teach leaders what is needed.

Additional Resource: The Top 10 Best Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill