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What is an Emergency Response Specialist?
By Sam MacArthur

Emergence response specialists are always working — behind the scenes — to ensure the overall safety of those around them. For generations, a career in the public sector has been considered one of the most stable and sensible career paths, mostly for the perks that come with a government job. However, a profession like emergency response specialist has a bigger impact, and much more direct impact on everyday life, than the typical bureaucratic job. By taking up a career as an emergency response specialist, individuals get a chance to keep the general public safer without direct involvement with clinical environments. It’s a unique career path vis-à-vis the requirements and challenges, and definitely not a job for everyone. If you are interested, keep reading to find out more about what takes to become an emergency response specialist.

What Does an Emergency Response Specialist Do?

An emergency response specialist is a professional with special training on how to mitigate environmental incidents that pose a threat to the safety of the public. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, professionals in emergency response organize and direct resources in the face of environmental incidents for the purposes of maintaining control, protecting public safety, and minimizing the impact of the incident.

These professionals work behind the scenes to overcome some uniquely challenging situations. The emergency response specialist’s salary is enough to support a decent lifestyle, but that’s not why people choose this profession. It’s a little more than that – it’s the satisfaction that comes from the power of having a positive impact on public safety outside of a clinical setting or an office. A career as an emergency response specialist can be both rewarding and fulfilling.

How Do You Become an Emergency Response Specialist?

In most cases, hiring requirements depend on the employer. A bachelor’s degree or an emergency management degree is often required, but sometimes degrees in related fields, such as public safety, health policy and management, or biohazards can be considered. You can earn your emergency management degree from a wide range of colleges and universities across the country, or through an online MPH degree program. For working professionals who are already in the field, online public health certificate programs may provide the educational requirements and credentials to break into higher paying, more advanced job roles in emergency and disaster management.

Other types of training are offered by FEMA through the Emergency Management Institute (EMI). The program offered at EMI gives standard training to emergency response personnel. This is the only emergency management institute in the country. Some colleges offer private emergency response training programs covering topics such as disaster management, search and rescue, hazardous material, etc. You can take an online or on-campus emergency management degree or related fields if you are interested in becoming an emergency response specialist.

Emergency Response Specialist Salary Expectations and Job Outlook

Emergency response specialist salary depends on the employer, location in the country, and experience, among other things. The average emergency management salary is $53,000 per year. However, people in the top earning positions take home more than $90,000 annually. The job outlook for professionals in emergency response looks good, job growth is expected to be a whopping 12 percent in the next 10 years.

The sole responsibility of an emergency response specialist is to make sure that the community is ready when disaster strikes. The ultimate goal is to keep the loss of life at a minimum in the face of disaster. It’s a lucrative career, and the emergency management salary is good enough, but there’s more to it than just the salary: it’s about saving lives.