Practitioners With Credentials Enhance Emergency Management

AEM and CEM credentials help to ensure employee competence.

Whether you are currently working as an emergency management (EM) practitioner or seeking a job in this profession, there are two International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) credentials that represent the highest level of professional achievement available from the largest EM association in the United States.

Beyond the state emergency management certifications that are also available to emergency managers, the two most widely recognized credentials are the Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) and Certified Emergency Manager  (CEM®). The credentials require contributions to the profession that fall beyond regular job performance and cannot be part of your defined job duties. Candidates must provide a copy of their job class specification in their application packet.

The CEM and AEM certifications are peer review processes administered through the IAEM CEM Commission, which is comprised of 25 EM professionals working in varying disciplines. Candidates do not have to be IAEM members to apply for certification. The certification is valid for five years, and candidates must meet on-going renewal requirements to maintain certification.

Both credentials have fairly stringent minimum requirements: three references and a peer reviewed EM scenario essay that identifies a problem and solution. They also call for the completion of proctored (supervised) multiple choice, 100-question examination.

Having obtained CEM status in 2006, I can confirm the credentialing process is very challenging, requiring a significant time commitment, great attention to detail, and following the application packet submission instructions to the letter. The primary reason candidates are rejected is due to failure in following the stringent submission validation requirements.

Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) Requirements

The Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) requires 200 hours of approved training, 100 hours each in emergency management and general management fields. Emergency management training is considered specific to the profession, and general management training includes content that can be applied beyond emergency management. No more than 25 percent of the accrued hours can be in any single topic.

Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) Requirements

The CEM requirements include the AEM training (200 hours), education (a four-year degree requirement), at least three years of experience (including participation in a full-scale exercise or actual disaster event), and a minimum of six professional contributions in the following areas within the past 10 years:

  • Affiliation: (Membership) with a disaster/emergency-related organization
  • Leadership: A leadership role in a board of directors, committee, task force or special project
  • Special Assignment: Assignment in a jurisdictional or organizational committee or task force providing a significant contribution to the EM profession
  • Speaking Role: Develop and participate in three presentations or panels of a minimum of 20 minutes each (including radio, television, educational, video, etc.) related to disaster/emergency management. The audience may be community or a professional group. Candidate must be the presenter
  • Teaching Role: Complete a formal teaching or instructing commitment relating to disaster/emergency management, which equals or exceeds three hours of actual platform instruction
  • Course Development: Play a significant role in the development or extensive revision of an educational emergency management course of at least three hours in length
  • Publications: Publish a substantive disaster/emergency management article, research project, or other publication relating to the emergency management field. The article/publication must have an independent editorial review and be published in a document beyond the candidate’s control
  • Awards or Special Recognition: Receive an award for disaster/emergency management-related activities
  • State or Province EM Certification or Registration: Earned certification or registration as an emergency manager through a government agency or state association
  • Legislative Contact: Contact an elected representative at the national or state level regarding an emergency management issues and provide a copy of the reply from the elected official
  • Conducting Research: Play a significant role in the development and execution of an emergency management research project

A higher education EM program that follows NFPA 1600 standards, and hires competent staff holding CEM or AEM credentials is a good indication that it is an organization that has adopted the highest standards available to the EM profession.

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About the Author


With more than 30 years experience, David is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) currently administering the emergency management program at Santa Clara University in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley. David managed the UCLA Office of Emergency Management for seven years and pioneered the development of the campus' award-winning "BruinAlert" system. David championed development of emergency plans, policies and procedures in the aftermath of Virginia Tech in 2007 and consults higher education institutions on emergency management issues. David is a subject matter expert in mass casualty incident management, emergency notification systems, comprehensive plan development, emergency organization, EOC design and operations, crisis communications, threat and vulnerability assessment, disaster recovery, grant administration and auditing. In 2009, David and other campus emergency managers provided consult in the development of the first incident management course developed by FEMA/EMI specifically for higher education (IS-100HE, Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS) for Higher Education). Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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