How To Become a Certified Emergency Manager

The duties of a certified emergency manager (which we will refer to as CEM for the rest of the article) were first found in military services, but it became a full-time job option for civilians in the 1990’s. CEMs are responsible for helping government agencies prepare for disasters like tsunamis, floods, and so on, and create emergency response plans. The ultimate goal is to protect people and, ideally, their property, as well. How do you enter this career field?

The first thing you should know is that the field is still developing. The job hasn’t really been around for that long, so standards and requirements are evolving and improving with time. To land a CEM job, there are two certifications you should be aware of: the CEM and AEM.

The CEM (Certified Emergency Manager) certification

Issued by the International Association of Emergency Managers, the largest association of its kind, the CEM is the gold standard for CEMs. To get the certification, you must:

Have a 4-year undergrad degree
Have emergency management professional experience
Complete 100 hours of emergency management training
Complete 100 hours of general management training
Made six “contributions to the profession,” which means publishing an article, giving a speaking engagement, and so on.
Complete an essay on your emergency management skills and experience
Pass a 100-question multiple choice test

The AEM (Associate Emergency Manager) certification

The AEM is for people who don’t meet all the requirements of the CEM (yet), but want something to show for their work. To earn the AEM, you must:

Complete 100 hours of emergency management training
Pass a 100-question multiple choice test
Have one letter of reference from a current supervisor and contact info for three other references
Complete an essay on your emergency management skills and experience
Other certifications

States often have certifications they want a CEM to have, or they will say it’s optional. It will definitely help your chances of getting the job. Having certifications that focus on a specific state gives you an advantage over candidates that may lack state-based knowledge and experience. For more detailed information and resources on becoming a CEM, head over to the IAEM website.

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