Many professions are defined as occupations requiring extensive study, experience, the mastery of specific skills and specialized knowledge. They often have levels of standardization, certification and/or licensing, use professional organizations to advance the profession and provide oversight to the above. Two components critical to the profession of emergency management are leadership and education.

One crucial characteristic of the successful emergency manager is the necessity of collaboration and leadership outside their own organization. Emergency management entities rarely own the resources and influences needed to mitigate, prevent, protect, respond or recover from the threats and hazards they face. Emergency managers lead communities of effort, or networks of participants. The leadership skills required for emergency managers are not the traditional ones expected for more hierarchical professions. Emergency managers are leaders, facilitators, coordinators, and collaborators all at the same time.

NEMA has developed recommended criteria for the position of state emergency management director. The criteria is not intended to be prescriptive, but simply a list of knowledge or experience, and desired characteristics and qualities to be considered when appointing the state emergency management director.

More information can be found through the NEMA Resource Library and the Career Center.

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