What Type of Emergency Management Jobs are Available with a Military Degree?

Emergency ManagementMilitary veterans are ideal candidates for employment in emergency management. By definition, military personnel must train to perform accurately and efficiently under extremely stressful conditions. Yet recently discharged veterans suffer unemployment rates some three times greater than the national average. Even so, emergency management is a growing career field, and veterans can turn their military background to their advantage in pursuit of these job opportunities.

Entering the Field

Part of the challenge in seeking emergency management employment is the same for veterans as for civilians: there is no clearly defined pathway for becoming an emergency manager. Nevertheless, there are three prerequisites necessary to all emergency management specialties that the newly discharged veteran should acquire, if they do not already possess them, prior to seeking EM employment.

Universal Requirements

First, a clean criminal record is best, because emergency management personnel often are privy to sensitive information and commonly work alongside law enforcement. Trustworthiness is therefore essential. If a veteran does have a criminal history, however, all hope is not lost. A good service record reflects that the veteran has learned integrity and respect for authority and, depending on final rank, leadership. Letters of recommendation from superior officers will also be helpful in persuading potential emergency management employers that the veteran has the moral character necessary for such work. Second, excellent spoken and written English skills are vital, because emergency management depends on clear communication. Last but not least, a veteran seeking emergency management employment should have at minimum a high school diploma. To be competitive, however, a bachelor’s or higher college degree is desirable. A list of institutions offering EM curriculums is available from FEMA.


Specialties within emergency management are quite diverse. A newly discharged veteran desiring emergency management employment will find it easiest to transition into areas relevant to their military occupational specialty (MOS). Fortunately, the military provides a variety of training relevant to emergency management. Radio/communication, hazardous materials handling, logistics, IT/computers, engineering, and emergency medical services are only a few military skills useful to civilian emergency management agencies.

Critical Need: EMS

Especially promising for veterans desiring emergency management employment is the area of emergency medical services (EMS). As baby boomers swell the ranks of our senior citizens, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that it will take an additional 33% EMTs and paramedics to meet our nation’s growing health care needs. To help meet this demand, in February 2013 Congress passed the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act. This act amended the Public Health Service Act to facilitate veteran-to-civilian transition into EMS occupations. It directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a program for states afflicted with a shortage of EMTs that simplifies state certification and licensing requirements. Veterans interested in EMS jobs will find a information about jobs at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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Job opportunities in emergency management abound, and are projected to grow through the foreseeable future. Veterans are uniquely equipped to fill these positions. We honor their service protecting us as members of our military, and we continue to have need of their protective services when they rejoin civilian society.