Disaster Preparedness Researcher

Disaster Preparedness Researcher Careers

Jobs within the service industry are seeing a shift in growth between positions that serve consumers and positions that serve the public.  Municipally funded employment is still one of the most stable career paths, and is currently experiencing a large increase in opportunity, especially in the field of public health.

While many courses of employment in public health are focused on medical interventions, the concern of community safety is also a focus of this sector.  This can include both legislative and practical applications for the promotion of public welfare.  With the growing awareness of how natural and made emergencies can affect towns, regions, and even whole states, the job of disaster preparedness research is a growing field with a high demand for qualified individuals.

What Is A Disaster Preparedness Researcher?

A disaster preparedness researcher is responsible for assessing community preparedness in the event of a natural or manmade threat, as well as determining the statistical potential for such an occurrence.  This career path is also focused on developing plans at a local and state level to cope with incidences, and reduce the risk to the community and the loss of life. 

As a researcher, you would also be required to work with the local government and emergency responders to educate the public about potential threats.  A disaster preparedness researcher will collaborate with first responders and officials to ensure that they have knowledge of viable plans of action, and also that the public has access to emergency care and supplies.  This can include combining research and demographic data to ensure that all members of the community are cared for.

If you are interested in becoming a disaster preparedness researcher, you would be responsible for the following tasks:

  •   Collecting environmental data regarding weather or geographic trends that may pose threats.
  •   Examining industrial complexes for potential large scale dangers to the community.
  •   Using demographic data to determine community needs in the event of an emergency.
  •   Evaluating current emergency plans and resources.
  •   Developing and implementing valid protocols for community care in an emergency.
  •   Inspecting emergency shelters to ensure safety and capacity.
  •   Educating personnel and the public about strategies for safety in the case of a disaster.
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To be effective as a disaster preparedness researcher, the following personal skills will also serve you well in your position:

  •   Critical thinking skills:  You will need to be able to analyze the data that you are collecting and apply it to possible catastrophic situations for the community.  This will require you to project multiple scenarios and consider the implications of each of them.
  •   Planning skills:  You will need to be able to use the information that you have gathered to create feasible plans of action for the public and for health officials.  You will also need to be able to implement this plan and maintain it regardless of whether a disaster occurs of not. 
  •   Evaluation skills:  This position will ask that you take a critical look at existing resources as well as potential threats.  You will need to be able to assess threat levels for different situations and decide how funding and personnel should be positioned. 
  •   Good communication:  The findings of your research will not only need to be relayed to local officials, but may also need to be shared with state and federal agencies to generate support and funds.  You will also need to interact with other health officials, emergency responders, and the public in conveying the necessity of preparedness. 
  •   Education and outreach skills:  This can include the ability to speak well in public,, as well as the ability to lead education workshops.  You may also be required to include media outreach campaigns to generate community awareness regarding catastrophic events.

Nature Of The Work

Disaster preparedness researchers work in the field, in the community, and in the office.  This career path will require that you travel throughout the municipality to collect information and identify threat potentials.  You will also need to establish a community presence to gather data about current awareness and resources, and this can be conducted through group meetings as well as individual assessments.

The administrative aspect of this position is compiling data and formulating plans for preparedness.  Most municipalities have offices within the public health department for this position, but you may also work out of universities and community extension offices.  Along with plan development, you will need to be present at local hearings and in legislative meetings to present findings and solutions.   

Education And Training

This position requires a four year degree in environmental sciences, community planning, response protocols, or a related field.  While there is no certification that is generally required for this career option, many states will also expect a minimum of five years experience in any of the previously mentioned fields.  Having a background in health program design is also a benefit when applying for this position.

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If you are interested in a job that offers you and your community safety and security, then a disaster preparedness researcher could be an ideal direction for you to follow.  The nationally projected growth average for this position is just above the average at an 8%, although there is a certain amount of variance in demand according to state and region.  Areas of the country that have experienced emergencies or have frequent environmental factors that contribute to disasters have a slightly higher growth expectancy of around 12%. 

Overall, communities across the nation are beginning to address the possibility of disaster situations as a threat to public health.  Whether you pursue this career at a local, state, or even federal level, there is room for advancement and greater earning potential.  Entry level positions in local municipalities can start around $39,000, but the average wages for this job are closer to $59,000 per year.  If you enjoy research that has practical applications within your community, then the job of disaster preparedness researcher could be a good way to provide personal and public security.

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