A graduation diploma handed to a student

You have officially earned a bachelor’s degree and can’t wait to join the workforce. It’s a degree that correlates with the field you’re most passionate about: safety and emergency management.  Let’s say that you’re able to gain a position on an emergency management team and you do, in fact, love your job. After some time gaining experience and building relationships, you discover a new desire—you want to be promoted, reach higher levels of management, and enact change within the emergency management field.

To reach higher safety and emergency management leadership positions, you will have to continue your education and training, earn certifications, and strengthen your skills. Accomplishing these processes may lead to career positions like an emergency management director who makes roughly $63,000 a year, or an occupational hygienist who earns between $90,000 and $100,000 annually. While attaining a higher-level management position will be challenging, a dedicated work ethic and a commitment towards advancing your skillsets can help with potentially achieving your career goals.

Pursue Higher Education

Pursuing a master’s in SSEM can help you gain an advantage during the employment process. Earning a master’s degree will prepare you for high level positions by providing more comprehensive information and offering a specialization. Specializing in homeland security, occupational safety, or fire and emergency services can open up more career opportunities and can potentially fast track your career.

Earning a master’s degree means you can immediately apply for an associate safety and health manager (ASHM) certification. The ASHM certification coupled with two years of field experience fulfills the requirements to take the certified safety and health manager (CSHM) certification. Along with higher education, certifications can help you get ahead and accomplish your career goals.


The CSHM certification is a major benefit if you are looking to attain an executive level position. The certification acknowledges your level of education and proves your knowledge of OSHA regulations, industry standards, and management skills. It effectively certifies that you are an expert within the emergency management field.

In order for certifications and higher education to truly work to your benefit, you need to have professional-level skills as well.

Hone Skills

Maintaining, improving, and learning new skills are vital to getting ahead in the emergency management field. Along with industry-specific skills, you should also practice leadership-based skills. Emergency management already requires critical-thinking and decision-making, setting the early groundwork for leadership abilities to grow.

High-level positions will have responsibilities such as time-management, organization, and delegation. Honing these skills means learning to prioritize tasks, calmly addressing emergencies, communicating precisely, and appropriately placing responsibility. Without practice and improved skills, you may find it difficult to further your career.

Skills are correlated with how you work and how you work with others. When pursuing a higher role and leadership position, you need to nurture your skills accordingly. Fortunately, furthering your education can provide opportunities to develop these skills and practice using them.

Understanding the Role of Technology

A more progressive and critical skill you should have is the comprehension and awareness of technology. Emergency management professionals have been using technology to better prepare, prevent, mitigate, and recover from disasters.

Technology makes it easier to coordinate first responders more efficiently, prepare better crisis management plans, and connect people before, during, and after a disaster. Technology such as cloud storage—information stored on remote servers that can be accessed via the Internet—allows people and emergency management professionals to access necessary data during an emergency.

If you’re hoping to advance your career in emergency management, understanding how to implement and utilize technology like this would be beneficial. Taking advantage of new tools and leading others to do the same is an important step.

What Options are Best for You?

Understanding the new role of technology, honing skills, earning certifications, and pursuing higher education can give you an edge. However, there is only a finite amount of time in a day. How can you continue your job as well as prepare for the future? The good news is there are options that can help you to succeed.

A master’s in SSEM can be earned on a campus or online through accredited universities. Learning online may be the best option for those who have multiple responsibilities and busy schedules. Certifications can also be found online, providing greater opportunities and improving accessibility to those located far from physical institutions.

Skills can be practiced in and out of work. Read articles provided by FEMA, OSHA, or one of the many safety organizations throughout the U.S. They can provide examples of how to better your skills as well as the newest industry trends. The same can be said for understanding technology. Read and watch news related to the emergency management field to stay updated on the newest tools and strategies being used.

The Path is Open

Developing and gaining experience in emergency management to further your career is not an impossible task. It will take effort, patience, and dedication, but can potentially lead to a rewarding high-level position.

Learn More

Earning a master’s in emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University can help you increase your knowledge of the safety industry and demonstrate a continued commitment to learning and leadership. Whether you aspire to work at the governmental level or move into the private sector, our distinguished faculty of safety professionals delivers a comprehensive curriculum that can translate wherever safety matters most.

Recommended Readings:

4 Ways Big Data is Revolutionizing Emergency Management

5 Questions to Ask About Your Emergency Action Plan

4 Important Grant Programs for Emergency Preparedness and Relief