Should I Get an Emergency Management Degree?


As the Emergency Management field continues to grow and professionalize the importance of a college degree grows right alongside it. What are the advantages of getting a degree as opposed to relying on experience, knowledge, and connections?


I am sure you are about to throw our names like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg who are very successful and didn’t graduate from college, but these names are outliers and more often than not, a college degree matters. Today, more Americans are seeing the significance of a college education and its role in providing better job opportunities and a comfortable lifestyle. In fact, many Americans claim that a higher education is extremely important to get ahead in life.

While there are many very successful emergency management professionals actively working in the field today, like other professions, the needs in the field are beginning to require some college or university education. Having a degree opens up rewarding opportunities that might have otherwise been inaccessible. College graduates see 57 percent more job opportunities than non-graduates, and it is estimated that over the coming few years, two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary education. A degree enables you to qualify for these additional opportunities and offers you more flexibility in where you choose to work.[1]


The days of the retiring fire chief automatically getting appointed to be the Emergency Manager are coming to an end. The field is much more technical and the job market is changing with it. The technology, leadership, training, and acumen required for even a basic emergency now involve additional skill sets. Due to this, only the most accomplished individuals can effectively do the work. Getting a degree will help you learn the specific skills and habits needed to make a living in these areas.


The emergency management field requires increased communication skills. Today when an emergency occurs, the media is looking to the emergency manager for answers. You can no longer be in charge without being expected to answer questions, often on the air or in print. Better communication is a requirement and most jobs involve some form of written or verbal communication. As such, you will generally improve in both areas during your college career.

Finally, a college educated emergency manager will have been introduced and immersed into some of the newest concepts and activities within the field. This intellectual curiosity is hard to duplicate outside the context of college. The college educated emergency manager is capable of doing a better job based on their access to information. Obviously this can also be accessed by those not pursuing a degree, but the purposeful collision with this material happens in the college classroom more often than outside it.


College is not for everyone and deciding whether or not to go to university is one of the most important decisions of your life. The key thing to remember is that it will definitely shape your future career. There are options galore out there. You could take traditional classes or even go completely online. The choice is yours, but if you are able, I would encourage you to go. As I mentioned, the field is growing fast, and the increased requirements are growing with it. You owe it to yourself and to those you were hired to protect.

[1] https://www.northeastern.edu/bachelors-completion/news/is-a-bachelors-degree-worth-it/

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