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Take Your Emergency Response Career to New Heights

As an emergency response professional, you stand on the front lines, helping communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters, both natural and human-made. Now, take your skills — and your career — to new heights with the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP) from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School.

Launched as the nation’s first homeland security and emergency preparedness program in 2005, this online master’s program is a true reflection of the Wilder School’s mission to be the premier resource for public policy expertise and social justice in public safety, governance, and economic and community development. The Wilder School is ranked in the top 15% of graduate schools of public affairs (2022 U.S. News & World Report).

Career Paths in Disaster and Emergency Management

Whether your goal is to advance to a leadership role with your current employer or effect change in an entirely different field, the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness can help you get there.

Move up the ranks as an emergency services director with the ability to marshal resources, coordinate with other agencies and set smart policy that saves lives, or leverage your existing skills to protect the public in a new field, such as federal law enforcement, border protection or cybersecurity.

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors lead the planning and response to natural disasters and other emergencies. These professionals often coordinate with public safety officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to minimize damage and disruptions during an emergency. Daily activities include preparing disaster plans and procedures; overseeing the training and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers and local agencies; communicating warnings; and managing resources and equipment across agencies and communities.

Most emergency management directors work for federal, state or local governments. Others work for organizations such as hospitals, colleges and universities, private companies, and nonprofits.

Job Growth

Job Growth

4% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$74,590*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Policy Adviser

Policy advisers research, review and recommend the guidelines, regulations and laws that shape disaster planning and emergency response policies and programs. Daily activities include conducting and leading comprehensive special studies; providing assessments, evaluations and recommendations for new and proposed policy initiatives, priorities, programs and operations at national and international levels; preparing background and briefing materials for top management; and creating new policies based on the results of studies and reviews.

Policy advisers may work at federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, within state and local governments, at private companies, and at other businesses and organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

8% or more from 2019 to 2029* (much faster than average)

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$84,810*

* Source: *O*NET OnLine

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Criminal investigators, called special agents in many government agencies, gather facts and collect evidence related to criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, monitor suspects, and participate in raids and arrests. Daily activities include gathering statements from complainants, witnesses and accused persons; recording progress of investigations; maintaining informational files on suspects; and submitting reports to commanding officers.

Criminal investigators work for nearly every department of the federal government, including the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Marshals Service and many more. They work in every branch of the military, as well as for state governments, private companies, and other businesses and organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

5% from 2019 to 2029* (faster than average)

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$86,030*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s critical data, computer systems and networks from intrusions and vulnerabilities. Daily activities include developing security policies and procedures, coordinating projects with other departments, and staying up to date on emerging technology threats and trends.

Most information security analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, business and financial companies, and government agencies and organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

31% from 2019 to 2029 (much faster than average)*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$99,730*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Business Continuity Manager

Business continuity managers lead the creation of plans, procedures and programs to ensure that a business can continue to operate during and after emergencies such as natural and human-made disasters. Daily activities include preparing disaster recovery plans, overseeing the training and disaster exercises for staff, and managing resources and equipment across departments. During an emergency, business continuity managers are responsible for overseeing the implementation of their plans.

Most business continuity managers work for private companies, nonprofits and other organizations, such as hospitals, colleges and universities.

Job Growth

Job Growth

4% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$74,590*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Skills and Abilities

  • Critical thinking
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Decision-making
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Coordination and collaboration

Technology-heavy roles in areas such as information security and criminal intelligence require knowledge of computer hardware and software, including skills such as programming and data analysis.

Find out more about the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at VCU.

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