Prepare for Your Career

What You Can Do with an Emergency Management Degree

Numerous career opportunities are available to those graduating with an emergency management major. Positions are available at all levels of government including city, county, state, and federal. A wide variety of local, national, and international voluntary organizations routinely hire people trained in emergency management, and there is increasing emphasis on hiring emergency managers in the private, business sector.

Recent program graduates found employment as a regional emergency planner, homeland security planner, hospital emergency manager, emergency manager with the National Guard, disaster insurance adjuster and academic associate for an emergency management program in the southwest. 

Learn more about Emergency Management as a career path:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics information about emergency management including sectors that emergency managers are employed in, pay, and projected growth of employment in emergency management.

Many undergraduates also have chosen to go on for a master's degree. In light of the continuing need to manage natural and technological disasters and current homeland security issues, there will be an increasing need for educated and highly skilled emergency managers.

Of note, just as with any degree program in higher education, an emergency management student does not graduate and necessarily go on to be an emergency manager. Many graduates from our degree program go on to work in fields outside of emergency management. The skills and knowledge acquired through our undergraduate degree program in emergency management are highly marketable to other professions and fields.

For instance, all undergraduate courses emphasize written and oral communication--highly valued skills in virtually any field. Undergraduate coursework also provides students multiple opportunities to engage in collaborative, cooperative activity, demonstrate leadership, hone the ability to conduct critical analysis, find, synthesize, and integrate information from multiple sources, and develop and implement projects. Each of these skills are highly sought after by those hiring in the public, private, and nongovernmental sectors.

Preparing for the Career You Want

An emergency management education is key to being an emergency management professional, but becoming a professional in the field involves more than just attending classes. It is critical that emergency management majors seek additional professional development--attend training, gain experience, develop your networks, and get ready for life after graduation. The faculty help you think through and pursue these things.

The Emergency Management Major Map can initially sensitize you to the classes you need to graduate, AND provide ideas and timelines in these other areas of professional development as well, but that is just one thing we do to help you get career ready.

  • We maintain and distribute a monthly calendar of department and external professional development opportunities. 
  • We require a 3-credit, semester long professional development course. Our students take it soon after entering our program. The course allows students to explore various career paths within emergency management and requires students to build a 5 year individual development plan consistent with areas outlined in the major map.
  • We integrate practitioners, particularly alumni, as guest speakers in our courses so you learn more about what they do and have a chance to build your network.
  • We provide funding support student travel to training and conferences as our alumni donated funds allow.
  • We also require a 6-credit internship.
  • Our students meet with their academic advisor early and often to check in on how implementation of the plan is going.

There are many more ways we help you get ready for your career upon graduation once you declare the emergency management major! 


NDSU's Emergency Management Program believes that internships are part of a well-rounded education. Based on that understanding, students are required to complete a 6 credit internship as part of their curriculum.

Internships are important in that they aid in the development of practical skills and abilities and help students develop working relationships with professionals in the field. Students participating in internship opportunities gain valuable experience and are more viable as job candidates upon graduation. The program strives to create internship opportunities that meet individual students' needs and career interests. 

Examples of organizations with which Emergency Management students have completed internships include:

  • North Dakota Department of Emergency Services
  • Gate City Bank
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Various regional utilities companies
  • Sanford Hospital
  • Essentia Hospital
  • Sanford Health
  • Countless County Emergency Management Offices in Minnesota, North Dakota, and beyond
  • City of Fargo Emergency Management
  • Fargo Public Schools
  • West Fargo School District
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Management Institute
  • CETERO Research
  • University of Minnesota
  • Lutheran Disaster Response
  • Fargo Marathon
  • Fargo Lions
  • Fargo YWCA
  • International Association of Emergency Managers--US Council
  • Florida Department of Emergency Management

For more information on setting up an internship, contact the Internship Coordinator, Carol Cwiak, via phone at (701) 231-5847 or via email at

Professional Associations and Conferences

Joining professional associations and attending related conferences is an excellent way to prepare for an emergency management career--both are a fantastic way to assess your degree of interest in a variety of career paths, apply what you are learning in your classes, and build a professional network.

There are associations and conferences focused on particular aspects of emergency management such as business continuity, managing flood plains and public health preparedness. All states in the United States have an association for local emergency managers (some also are designed for emergency management practitioners in other settings) and most of these hold an annual conference. The National Emergency Management Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers have annual conferences too. Student memberships and conference costs are typically reduced compared to non-student members! Check out our professional development resources page to explore these options more! 

Assuming your interest is piqued, check out this fun video capturing the amazing educational experience a few of our undergraduate students recently had at the International Association of Emergency Managers 2018 Conference. 

Volunteer Opportunities

There are a variety of organizations that need volunteers to help with the disaster-related services they provide. Regardless of whether you have completed an internship, are a a major/minor in emergency management, or have already graduated, you can get involved in helping your local community respond to and recovery from hazard events! The Red Cross and Salvation Army are two examples of organizations with which you could volunteer.

The Red Cross:
The local chapter of the Red Cross, the Minn-Kota Red Cross Chapter, needs your help. If you want to join their Disaster Action Team, you will need to take a couple of initial steps. First, go through the Online Orientation that will provide an overview of the work that volunteers do with the Red Cross. Second, view the Introduction to Disaster Services video that shows you some of the work disaster volunteers perform on site and behind the scenes. Once you have taken these initial steps you can visit the local Red Cross website to see available courses and training dates. You can sign up for these courses by contacting the chapter at 701-364-1800. Disaster courses are held at the Minn-Kota Chapter unless otherwise noted. Once complete, members of the team may be deployed to disasters locally and in the U.S. Whenever there is a disaster, you are given the choice as to whether you are available for deployment. Deployments typically last 2-4 weeks.

Salvation Army:
If you are interested in volunteering with the Salvation Army, you first need to complete a volunteer application. After completing a volunteer application, you will need to complete one or more training courses (depending on how involved you want to be in the delivery of disaster services and the role you want to play). The local chapter of the Salvation Army offers volunteer training regularly. Some training that you could take to prepare for volunteer work includes: Intro to Emergency Disaster Services, Food Service and Handling, International Deployment, Emotional and Spiritual Care, Incident Command System, Operations, Disaster Social Services, Public Information Officer, Medic First Aid, and more. Learn more about available courses and upcoming training dates.

Top of page