What It’s Like to Work for FEMA

Are you wondering what it’s like to work for FEMA? Maybe you like the idea of helping people or you enjoy traveling. This article will give you an overview of what FEMA is, who works there and what it’s like to work for this government agency.

master of public administration

What Is FEMA?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security created in 1978 to coordinate the response to disasters in the United States that overwhelm the resources of local and state authorities. This means that they provide on-the-ground support to people after a disaster strikes.

This agency also:

  • Provides state and local governments with experts in specialized fields.
  • Provides state and local governments with funding for rebuilding efforts and relief funds for infrastructure by directing individuals to access low-interest loans in conjunction with the Small Business Administration.
  • Provides funds for the training of response personnel.

What many people don’t realize is that FEMA can’t enter a state without the governor first declaring a state of emergency and formally requesting assistance from the President, FEMA and the federal government.

Who Works for FEMA?

Thousands of people work for FEMA, and a wide variety of job titles exist within the agency, including air safety specialist, disability integration advisor, communications planning manager, training specialist, environmental specialist and many more.

Getting your emergency management masters degree can be a great way to get your foot in the door of this agency. Also, very often FEMA hires military and law enforcement retirees who have experience that corresponds to work done at FEMA. Overall, talented and knowledgeable people work for FEMA.

One important thing to consider if you’re thinking about working with FEMA is that all employees are emergency managers, which means they can be deployed to various disasters to work onsite helping with disaster-relief efforts. When employees work on the ground, they wear FEMA-emblazoned jackets and often talk to survivors and get them to sign up with FEMA and provide them with information. They attend town meetings, set up disaster recovery centers and hand out food, water and blankets to those in need.

What Is It Like to Work for FEMA?

Working for FEMA requires the ability to operate in stressful environments with people who have suffered as a result of a disaster.

Here is what FEMA employees say about why they enjoy working for FEMA:

  • A sense of achievement. Serving the community and helping others brings with it a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind.
  • Travel. When deployed to work on-site after a disaster, employees travel to new places, and many of them report back about the interesting people they’ve met.
  • Interesting work. The work is always changing and challenging.
  • Intelligent, qualified colleagues. Many well-educated people from many different backgrounds work for FEMA.
  • Good pay. The pay varies widely but is good to great depending on your education and experience.
  • Opportunities for training. FEMA provides excellent training opportunities for its employees.

Could FEMA Be the Right Place for You?

FEMA plays an important role in disaster response and recovery in the United States, and many people enjoy working for the agency. Perhaps you would also enjoy working for FEMA. The best way to find out is to do more research, visit the agency website and to talk to people who work or who have worked for FEMA. Most of all, you must be able to deal with disasters and provide some level of comfort to the survivors. It will get better, and you can help.

Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons

About the Author: Carol Gordon is working to get her master of public administration. One day, she hopes to work with FEMA and aid people across the United States.

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