How Do I Become a Disaster Specialist?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2020
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The job of a disaster specialist includes a variety of tasks involved in planning for disasters and responding to them when they occur. Most employers prefer to hire candidates for this position who hold degrees in emergency management or another major in which skills are learned that can help in emergency situations. For example, you might major in nursing, environmental science, or engineering to prepare for this job. You could also benefit from the related experience gained through internships, working with organizations that deal with disasters, or caring for the victims of emergency situations. Additionally, communication skills and the ability to remain in control during an emergency are also vital.

A college degree is often required when you want to become a disaster specialist. You can earn a college degree in an emergency management major in preparation for this job, though some employers hire individuals with backgrounds in other areas. For example, you might find some positions available to individuals who have degrees in fields such as engineering, environmental science, public administration, or computer science. To ensure you will have the best chance at the particular type of employment you seek as a disaster specialist, you may do well to peruse job ads and contact prospective employers to learn the types of candidates in which they are most interested.


You might also consider becoming a disaster health specialist, which usually requires a degree or certificate in a health-related field. For example, if you want to become a disaster health specialist, you might earn a degree in nursing or medicine and then obtain the licensing your jurisdiction requires for this job. Then, you will typically need additional training to become a disaster specialist. This often consists of a program that lasts for less than 60 hours and provides both classroom and hands-on training. At the end of this type of program, you will likely earn a certificate meant to demonstrate your expertise in this area.

Experience also is usually required when you want to become a disaster specialist. To gain the type of experience you need, you can participate in related internships while you are in college. After college, you may do well to apply for entry-level positions with organizations that provide disaster relief or medical care for disaster victims. You might even find some jobs with law enforcement that provide the type of experience that will help you become a disaster specialist.

You will likely also need specific skills to become a disaster specialist. In most cases, excellent communication skills and the ability to get along well with others are critical. Perhaps one of the most important skills for this job, however, is the ability to stay calm under pressure. To land this job and perform well in it, you must keep a clear head, even when matters are at their worst.



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