Pros and Cons of a Career in Public Safety Management
The field of public safety management, also known as emergency management and disaster management, has many careers to choose from, including emergency management director, emergency clinical manager and police chief. Here's a quick glance at each of these possible career options:
|Emergency Management Director||Emergency Clinical Manager||Police Chief|
|Career Overview||Emergency management directors are in charge of planning and executing disaster response operations.||Emergency clinical managers typically run the daily operations and staff of various medical emergency rooms.||Police chiefs usually manage a police force at the town, city or county level.|
|Education Requirements||Most often a bachelor's degree, but exceptions aren't uncommon||Most often a bachelor's degree, but exceptions aren't uncommon||Often an associate's or bachelor's degree, although a high school diploma or GED may be acceptable|
|Program Length||3-4 years for a bachelor's degree||3-4 years for a bachelor's, 1-2 more for a master's||1-2 years for an associate's, 3-4 years for a bachelor's degree|
|Certification and Licensing||Rarely required||Licensure or certification is sometimes required||Licensure or certification is almost always required|
|Work Experience||In most cases, 1-5 years||Varies widely||In most cases, at least 8-15 years|
|Job Outlook for 2012-22||Average growth (8%) compared to all occupations*||Above average growth (23% for all medical and health services managers) compared to all occupations *||Below average growth (5% for all police and detectives) compared to all occupations*|
|Median Salary||Roughly $64,000 (2014)*||Roughly $93,000 (2014 for all medical and health services managers)*||Roughly $101,000 (2015)**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com
Emergency Management Director
As an emergency management director, swift and effective disaster response will be your area of expertise. Planning for and providing an efficient response to various emergencies and crises is typically the focus of the job. These may include natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, tornadoes and more. Also, you may coordinate, plan and execute disaster-relief operations to man-made issues like hostage situations, oil spills and nuclear power emergencies. In some cases, you'll focus on a specific area of emergency management.
Educational requirements and years of experience that you'll need depend largely on the emergency management director position. On-the-job training is not only common, but also often integral to the nature of the job. A bachelor's degree in emergency management or public administration is a common requirement.
In December 2012, the following emergency management director positions were posted online:
- Five years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree in public administration or emergency management was required for an emergency management director job in Wisconsin.
- In Oklahoma City, OK, an oil company sought a crisis and emergency management director. Requirements included ten years of experience and a bachelor's degree in emergency management, business continuity, industrial safety, engineering, science or a similar discipline.
- A county in Minnesota was searching for an emergency management director to work directly under the sheriff's direction.
Although it's not often specifically required by potential employers, earning certifications and official credentials can be a solid way to stand out as an emergency management director. The International Association of Emergency Managers offers a path to become a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) to candidates who have at least three years of experience in the field and pass a test. This is not only a way to strengthen your resume and credentials, but gain the public safety management skills that most employers prefer or require.
Emergency Clinical Manager
Clinical managers plan, administrate and generally run different specific departments of hospitals, doctor's offices and medical clinics and facilities. In the case of public safety management, becoming an emergency clinical manager may be a solid emergency care career choice. Typically, you'll be in charge of creating clinical plans, designing budgets, overseeing a staff, meeting goals and running the daily operations of an emergency facility.
An associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field is usually required to become a clinical manager. In some cases, a master's degree in nursing may be useful. Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) and maintaining your CPR certification is usually advised. You'll often also need a varying number of years of experience in the field.
Here are a handful of jobs that employers posted on the Internet in December of 2012:
- In California, a health clinic sought a full-time emergency clinical manager to report to an emergency services nursing director. Candidates were required to have current RN licensure as well as at least a bachelor's degree, although a master's was preferred.
- A hospital in Oregon preferred applicants with a master's degree and Basic Life Support (BLS) certification for an emergency services clinical management position.
- A Michigan health clinic sought an assistant clinical RN manager for the emergency services midnight shift. Two years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree in nursing was required.
You can take a number of measures that to get ahead in the job market as an emergency clinical manager. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers an official Professional Development Series that can help position you both skill and career-wise for this career. By completing a series of detailed, professional courses you'll help ensure that your level of emergency management expertise stands out from other public safety clinical managers.
If being in charge of the everyday operations, planning and decision-making of a local police department interests you, then becoming a chief of police is an option to explore. Law enforcement is a specialized area of public safety management that usually relates directly to managing crime and keeping the peace. Usually, you'll affect the law enforcement methods, budgets and police staff of a town, city or county. Sometimes, you'll work directly with a sheriff or act as a sheriff yourself.
Although educational requirements for the police force end with a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, it can be helpful to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related discipline to become a police chief. This can be particularly true when applying to jobs rather than advancing within a particular police department. You'll need to get your state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification from a police academy. Most employers will ask that you have from 8-10 years of experience in order to be hired as a chief.
The following three jobs were listed online in December of 2012:
- In North Carolina, police department was searching for a deputy director of public safety and assistant police chief. Police Supervisory II level licensure and at least a four-year degree in police science, business administration or behavioral sciences was required.
- A chief of police was sought by a city in Georgia with at least a bachelor's degree and 15 years of law enforcement experience and five as a supervisor.
- A city police department in Texas was seeking a chief to enforce city, state and federal ordinances. Eight years of experience and a bachelor's degree were required.
Standing out from other police chiefs or law enforcement officers is largely up to you. Often, your personal relationships, promotions within one police department and on-the-job training may mean the most. Although climbing through the ranks is common in this field, police chiefs may apply for jobs around the country and you're not necessarily glued to a certain department for your entire career. You can distinguish yourself from other job candidates by going the extra mile and getting advanced administrative skills from a law enforcement institute, such as the FBI National Academy or Bill Blackwood Institute.