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     Natural Disaster and Emergency Careers

In this section you will find information on the following careers:

Civil Engineering Technician                                                 Civil Engineer

Emergency Management Director                                        Firefighter

Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic                   Fire Inspector

Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher                               Fire Investigator

Social and Community Service Manager                             

Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist                       

Civil Engineer

   Do you like building things? Do you like taking on a project and seeing it through to the end? If you like seeing something you have created be a successful, impressive structure, you might be interested in becoming a civil engineer.


   Read on to find out more about civil engineering.


What They Do: Civil engineers design, build, plan,

supervise and construct roads, buildings, airports,

dams, bridges, tunnels, water systems and more!

They must create long-range plans for construction,

analyze the costs and government regulations, and

complete permit applications to the agencies that

will allow them to complete the project.


   Civil engineers also oversee the project throughout

the work. They manage costs, analyze test results of materials and soil samples, and design software to plan transportation systems. They present their findings to companies and to the public.

Education/Training: Civil engineers need a bachelor’s

degree (a four-year degree). Some employers may prefer

a job applicant with a graduate degree (a two-year degree

earned after a bachelor’s degree).


   Civil engineers prepare for their career by studying math,

statistics, engineering systems, and computer courses. The program of study usually includes field work along with classroom students.


   Requirements vary by state, but many civil engineers must be licensed to do certain kinds of projects.

Salary: The average salary for a civil engineer is $87,060 per year The lowest 10% earn less than $55,380 per year and the highest 10% earned more thqan $144,560 per year.

Wages vary depending on place of employment. For example, civil engineers who work in the federal government earn $95, 380 per year while those who work in bulding construction earn $77,340 per year.


Civil Engineering Technician

What They Do: Civil engineering technicians help civil

engineers plan, design, and build many different types of

projects. They work on highways, bridges, commercial

business buildings, industrial sites and home developments.


   Civil engineering technicians review project drawings, meet

with engineers to develop plans, evaluate project sites, test construction materials and soil samples in laboratories, and prepare reports for project activities.

They work under the supervision of a licensed civil engineer and see the project through to successful completion.

Education/Training: Employers prefer engineering technicians with at least an associate degree from an accredited school. Technical or vocational schools also have programs in civil engineering.

   Students interested in being a civil engineering technician should take courses in science, math, physics and geometry. They should have good critical thinking  and problem solving skills and be able to work well with others in a team.


Salary: The average wage for civil engineering technicians is $53,410 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $33,880 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $80,650 per year.


   Wages vary greatly depending on the place of employment. For example, civil engineering technicians who work in local government organizations earn about $60, 510 per year while those who work in state  government earn $45,440 per year.


Emergency Management Director

   Emergency managers are important people in

your community. You may not even know who

prepares for natural disasters and other emergencies

in your town or city, but these important people work

to keep people safe in the worst conditions.


   If you think this sounds like an exciting career, read on to find out more!


What They Do: Emergency managers work with other public safety officials and elected officials in a community to prepare for natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. They also prepare for other emergencies such as power outages and hazardous chemical spills.

   Disaster or hazardous conditions in a community require many resources in the community. Hospitals, emergency rooms, ambulances, and fire equipment may be needed in many places at the same time. These resources have to be planned and coordinated to provide the best possible services to those who need them.


   Emergency managers work to reduce the risks for everyone in the community. They may prepare public service announcements to keep people out of harm’s way and they report to government officials on the status of emergency conditions.

They analyze damage assessments following the emergency and apply for federal funding to aid in response and recovery efforts.

Education/Training: Emergency managers need a 4 year college degree in business or public administration, finance, or public health. They usually need multiple years of work experience in emergency response before they become competitive in the job market.

Emergency managers can get experience in the military, law enforcement or fire safety and apply this experience to an emergency management position. Work experience is important in this field because it prepares the manager to work with other agencies and to make difficult decisions in stressful situations.

Salary: The average salary for an emergency management director is $74,420 per year, but this varies with the place of employment. Those who work in professional or scientific services earn about $101,570 per year while those who work in state government positions earn about $61,680 per year.


Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic

    You have surely seen EMTs and paramedics on

dramatic television shows speeding to the scene of

an accident or transporting patients to hospitals for

treatment. Have you watched those shows and

wondered if you could be an EMT or paramedic?

What is the difference between the two?

What They Do: EMTs and paramedics are critical members of a community. They respond to 911 calls for medical help. They provide first-aid or life support to patients and transport sick or injured people to a hospital or healthcare facility for more treatment.


   EMTs provide the basic medical care at the scene of an accident or at the home of someone who needs care.

   Paramedics can provide more extensive treatment than EMTs because they undergo more extensive training. Paramedics can set up IV medications, administer and monitor electrocardiograms (EKGs) to test heart function, and handle trauma emergencies.


   How do you prepare to become an EMT or paramedic?  Read on to find out!


Education/Training: Students need at least a high school education and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification to enroll in a training program in emergency medical technology. Most EMT programs can be completed in less than one year, but others can last up to two years.

   Paramedics usually need an associate’s degree (a 2-year degree from a vocational school or community college).

   All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed. You must be over 18 years of age and pass a background check. Many states do not give a license to someone who has a criminal history.

   It is important for EMTs and paramedics to have compassion for patients who are in an emergency situation. They must be able to work in a team and have good listening and problem-solving skills.


Salary: The average wage for EMTs and paramedics is $34,320 per year, but salaries vary by where they work. Hospital emergency technicians earn more while those EMTs working for ambulance services earn a little less.



What They Do: Firefighters are an important part of a

community. They work to protect the public from many

different types of emergency situations. Of course, they put

out and control fires.

   To fight fires, they have to maintain and use a variety of

equipment, including water hoses, fire extinguishers, and water pumps. They have to know what type of personal protective equipment they must wear to fight hazards safely.


   Firefighters often respond to other emergency situations such as hazardous chemical spills in order to make a location safe for the public. They respond to calls for help on car crashes, flooding threats, and water rescues. In many of these emergencies firefighters provide medical care to sick or injured people.


   You might think that firefighters have a lot of free time when they are not fighting fires. But, when they are not responding to an emergency, they stay at their fire station and take care of their equipment, check instruments and hoses, and keep careful maintenance records. They practice firefighting drills to stay well-trained and ready for any emergency.


What kind of training do you think you might need to become a firefighter?  Read on to find out!

Education/Training: Firefighters need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Training after high school is required to learn how to fight fires in different situations, disaster preparedness, hazardous materials control, and public fire safety and education. Firefighters also have to learn about local building codes and emergency medical procedures.


   Firefighters attend training programs for local and state fire departments and some attend federal programs sponsored by the National Fire Academy.


   Most firefighters are certified as emergency medical technicians. Certifications require passing a national exam.

Salary: The average wages for firefighters is $49,620 per year, but this depends on the size and location of the city or employer. Firefighters who work for the federal or state government earn slightly more, but those who work at administrative services earn less.


Fire Inspector

What they do: Fire inspectors check buildings to detect

fire hazards and to find out if all federal, state and local

fire safety codes are met. Fire inspectors are not the

same as fire investigators who work to determine the

cause of fires and explosions.

   Fire inspectors look for fire hazards, make sure buildings are safe, test fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and review emergency evacuation plans. They conduct fire and safety eduation programs and inspect fuel storage tanks and equipment. 


Education/Training: Most fire inspectors have previous experience as fire fighters. They need at least a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training. As former firefighters, many have additional qualification as emergency medial technicians (EMTs). Additional education in fire science, engineering or chemistry makes a job candidate much more competitive.

   Training requirements vary by state, but most include classroom instruction in a fire or police academy. Inspectors learn guidelines for inspections, legal codes, courtroom procedures and the proper use of equipment. Many states have certification exams.


   Fire inspectors must pass a background check and drug test, have a valid driver’s license and usually need to be U.S. citizens.


Salary: The average wage for fire inspectors is $61,660 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $38,090 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $96,400 per year. Wages vary by location and by place of employment. For example, fire inspectors working in manufacturing earn $80,220 per year while those working in state government positions earn $60,230 per year.


Fire Investigator

   Would you like a career that involves solving how a fire started? Fire investigators look at all kinds of evidence in order to determine the cause of a fire or explosion. Like the idea of this exciting career? Read below to find out more!

What They Do:  Fire investigators collect and analyze

evidence at the scene of a fire or explosion. They interview

witnesses, send evidence to labs to be tested for finger-

prints and they document evidence by taking photographs.

They have to keep detailed records and they use the

records if they have to testify in court. They also have

certain police powers, such as the power of arrest and the right to carry a weapon.


Education/Training: Fire investigators are usually required to have experience as a firefighter. Firefighters need at least a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training.


   Fire Investigators must pass a background check which includes a drug test. They usually need to be U.S. citizens because of the police powers. Some employers prefer fire investigators with a two- or four-year degree in fire science, engineering, or chemistry.

   Training requirements vary by state. Classroom training usually occurs at a fire or police academy and takes several months. Fire investigators learn the proper guidelines for conducting an investigation, courtroom procedures, how to handle explosives, and the proper use of equipment.

   Fire inspectors work at organizations such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Fire Academy, and the International Association of Arson Investigators.


Salary: The average wage for fire investigators is $61,660 per year. The lowest 10% earned less than $38, 090 per year and the highest 10% earned more than $96,400 per year. Wages vary greatly depending on the place of employment.


Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher

   Have you ever thought of having a career that serves

your community? A dispatcher has an important role in

protecting the public. Dispatchers jobs are never boring! 

They handle hundreds of calls a day and they make sure

everyone who calls has some help on the way!

To find out more about being a dispatcher, but read on!

What They Do: Dispatchers are also called public safety telecommunicators because they answer emergency and nonemergency calls and direct the call to get help. They answer 911 calls, determine the type of emergency, its location, and decide the response that is needed.

   They relay information to first-responders and give basic over-the-phone medical instructions before emergency personnel arrive. They also monitor police, fire, and ambulance units to make sure the units are available.

   Dispatchers must stay calm during any emergency to help people who call.


Education/Training: Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers must have a high school diploma and pass a written exam and typing test. They need to bass a background check, lie detector and drug tests, and tests for hearing and vision.


   Training requirements vary by state. Most states require 40 hours of initial training with additional training every 2-3 years as technology changes. There are agencies that certify dispatchers and professional organizations recommend best practices as guidelines.


   Dispatchers use 2-way radios, computer software, local information and maps, videos, and of course, telephone for their very important public safety jobs!


Salary:  The average wage for an emergency dispatcher is $40, 660 per year, but this varies by place of employment and training. Some dispatchers earn $63,930 per year.


Social and Community Service Manager

What They Do: Social and community service managers

supervise social service programs in a community. They

work with community members to find out what programs

or projects may be needed in the community.

   They also perform the administrative duties of the

programs to keep them running smoothly. Social managers must evaluate the programs they oversee to make sure they are effective and they suggest improvements to the programs and services to make them even better.

   Social and community service managers often have to write proposals that apply for funding for programs. They also have to supervise and train new staff members.

In large agencies, social and community service managers have specialized duties, but in small organization, they often have many roles.

Education/Training: Social and community service managers need at least a 4 year college degree. Some positions require an advanced degree, such as a Master’s degree.


   Work experience is very important for higher positions. Lower-level management positions require less experience and are essential for gaining the experience needed for higher-level positions. Working as a social worker or counselor also provides the necessary experience.

Salary: The average wage for social and community service managers is $65,320 per year, but this varies with place of employment. Those who work for local governments can earn $83,660 per year while those who work in family services organizations earn much less.


Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist

  If you love being outside and like to work with all kinds of animals, you may enjoy a career as a zoologist (a scientist who studies animals) and wildlife biologist. Read more to find out!

What They Do: A zoologist studies animals and how they

interact with their environments. They do scientific testing

and experiments. They collect data and specimens, and

study the characteristics of animals in the wild to find out

how human activity may be affecting them.

   Zoologists and wildlife biologists develop plans to conserve and manage our wildlife resources. Zoologists often specialize to study certain species in detail. For example, entomologists study insects, herpetologists study reptiles, and ornithologists study birds.

   Other biologists choose to study animals that live in a certain environment. Marine biologists study organisms that live in salt-water environments.


Education/Training: A minimum of a 4-year college degree is required to become a zoologist or wildlife biologist. Most zoologists or wildlife biologists will get an advanced degree such as a master’s degree for higher level positions and a Ph. D. is needed for most research positions.

   If you are interested in this career, you should take as many biology courses as you can in high school to prepare for your college studies.


Salary: The average salary for this career is $63,420 per year, but wages vary with the place of employment. Some zoologists and wildlife biologists earn more than $95,430 per year. Zoologists work for the federal government, local governments, management services, and colleges and universities.

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