Andre' King Leamons
Hi Brian, I am encouraged to see someone who wants to get into the fray.. I am an emergency manager working for the Feds, Dept of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (we do water and power for the western US). You asked about USA JOBs. That was what I used when I got my position here, but those positions seem to be advertised under several different postings so you will have to read through a few. I work with high and significant dams, like Shasta, Folsom and so on here in Calif, and a few in Oregon and Nevada. We do a lot of exercises to constantly review our procedures and practice our steps and re-evaluate our emergency action plans, but the rewards are good pay and respect.
If you plan to get into the EM world take every course you can get your hands on, learn all you can from the free courses that FEMA offers and any local training. Suggested courses are already identified in FEMA's Five Year Plan, IS-100, 200, 700, and 800 to start, then for mid and upper level the 300 and 400 classes will be needed. They also have a course for the Professional Development series that include a few more courses that will aid you. You will also need to concentrate on the 700 series courses that are or will be available soon. Most of the college courses I have looked at rehash the same material, but they offer a paper degree. You really need to gain experience in EM to truely be effective. All the course work in the world won't help if you don't get some hands on experience. Volunteer in your community. Seek out job shadowing. Look at communities like IAEM, where you can get more information and assistance from your peers.
I see many opportunities comming, with disasters like the one in the gulf, past disasters like 911 have brought our profession to the front and I can only see growth in this field. We are basically the ground floor, and the more issues that come up, the more the need for EMs becomes clear. The states have their own emergency managers as do the cities and counties, much like our fed brothers and sisters, and with the increase in empahsis for required training to receive grants and reimbursment, the EM field won't be going away any time soon.
The replies that you have received already have given you a good direction to head, starting where your at is the way to go and then expand outward. Look for ways to shine by developing a needed program, or identify a group that needs help and practice some of the skills you pick up.... Cert teams, help not only the community but increases your visibility to others, as you will find out, this is a trust field, get to know the other folks in EM well in advance of issues... trading business cards in the parking lot during an emergency is not the time to get to know your responders or fellow EMs.
Good luck in your endeavors, I hope you find a good position that will match your vision, it is much better to have someone who wants to do this kind of work than a reluctant unhappy worker....who has to do it....