Public Safety Management Majors Guide

What Does it Mean to Study Public Safety Management?

Public safety requires careful planning and lots of coordination. This is where public safety management comes in. While many public safety and law enforcement officials walk the streets visibly keeping us safe, public safety managers work behind the scenes in order to plan and make sure that law enforcement officials, as well as the public, are as safe as they possibly can be while they do their jobs or go about their business.

Because public safety is such a broad field, it allows you to match your program curriculum to your interests in specific fields like security, event coordination, or inspection. A degree program in public safety management can help students learn the skills they need for management positions in large corporations, public safety organizations, or fire and police departments.

Career Training in Public Safety Management

Many working public safety professionals who wish to advance their careers go back to school for a graduate degree in public safety management. An advanced degree gives these professionals the upward mobility they need to be considered for promotion to management positions. And, with the increasing availability of online degree programs offered by accredited colleges and universities, working adults do not have to quit their jobs to go back to school.

A degree in public safety management equips students with the ability to oversee safety organizations, making sure they have a plan for anything that might arise. These public safety officials are constantly modifying and updating the plans to make sure all of the latest technologies and strategies are employed, making the plans as effective as possible.

The skills developed in a public safety management degree program can help students learn to create budgets for a public safety organization, to manage teams of public safety specialists, to communicate with superiors and inferiors, and to meet the parameters of an organization’s mission statement. Basically, degree programs in public safety management combine the fields of business management and law enforcement, touching on skills in law, criminal justice, business, finance, management and communications.

Is a Degree Program in Public Safety Management Right for You?

Successful public safety managers tend to be extremely organized, with a high attention to detail. They also tend to have a genuine concern for the welfare of others that brings a quality of passion to their approach to the work. If you feel this way, a degree program in public safety management might be right for you.

Often, students who have obtained an associate degree in a related field like criminal justice or law enforcement choose public safety management as a bachelor’s degree. The credits from related programs are often transferable to a public safety management degree program.

Professionals in related fields might choose public safety management as a major in order to advance within the organization they work for, or to find a new, more advanced job elsewhere. These people can sometimes use their work experience as credits to put towards their degree. And these days, because many public safety management degree programs are offered online, working professionals seldom need to quit their jobs in order to further their education.

Although a public safety management degree program can teach certain skills, people who excel in the field tend to have characteristics such as strong leadership abilities, the ability to foresee problems and plan ahead, and troubleshooting skills.

Types of Public Safety Management Degrees

Public safety management degrees, at all levels, can be obtained through accredited colleges and universities offering traditional or online programs of study.

Certificate Programs in Public Safety Management

Most certificate programs in public safety management are designed for those already working within the profession who wish to specialize or supplement their skills in order to advance in their careers. These programs may require an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field, or a comparable amount of work experience. The programs are often highly intensive, usually taking no more than a year to complete. They do, however, require the student to come to them with a certain degree of expertise already obtained in the area of public safety. The programs are highly specialized, usually focusing on one aspect of public safety management, such as disaster preparation or terrorism prevention.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Public Safety Management

Bachelor’s degree programs in public safety management serve the dual purposes of delivering a broad general education while introducing skills and concepts relevant to public safety. These degree programs cultivate business and leadership skills, as well as communication and computer skills.

As with most college majors, much of the coursework for a bachelor’s degree in public safety management consists of general education requirements in English composition, social sciences and other subjects. The purpose of these seemingly unrelated topics is to produce a well-rounded graduate who is capable of thinking critically about a variety of subjects.

After the general education requirements are met, students usually begin to focus more on the public safety aspect of their program. At this point, they begin taking more specialized upper-division courses, dealing with effective techniques of public safety management and with relevant business skills. Courses more specific to the public safety management major include:

  • Advanced accounting
  • Motivational strategies
  • Cultural studies
  • Presentation
  • Public administration
  • Administrative law
  • Strategy and implementation
  • Behavior of organizations
  • Project management
  • Leadership
  • Management principles
  • Human resource management

Some online colleges and universities allow working professionals to complete on-the-job projects for credit during the course of their degree programs, helping them to advance professionally and educationally at the same time.

What Can You Do with a College Degree in Public Safety Management?

A college degree in public safety management can lead you into a variety of fields. From disaster relief to working for local fire or police departments, these careers are important and rewarding. The Department of Homeland Security is another employment option for those who wish to work on a national level.

Career Specializations

  • Emergency response specialists respond in a moment’s notice to a variety of emergencies and public security threats. They do all manner of work, from crowd control to making sure a building is secure during an emergency. These specialists respond to situations that range from terrorist threats or attacks to natural disasters. Emergency response specialists must know how to administer emergency medical care. They must assess emergencies and make a plan in order to gain control of the situation quickly and efficiently. While doing so, they must ensure that the public is kept safe, as well as ensure the safety of their own staff.
  • Anti-terrorism task force coordinators attempt to stay one step ahead of terrorists, preventing attacks through the use of intelligence and security. They must know how to interrogate suspects and put together information from a variety of sources to determine if an area is under the threat of a terrorist attack. These individuals must maintain contact with airlines, public administrators, and local and state police in order to look for suspicious activity that may be related to terrorism. They must be able to gather and piece together intelligence on a local and national level in order to prevent all manners of terrorist attacks, from bombings to hijackings. These coordinators also must pay attention to their budget. Deciding how much manpower is needed and what pay scale is to be used is just one part of the financial end of being a task force coordinator. They must request and obtain funding from the federal government and elsewhere before they can do anything.
  • Public events security coordinators usually either work for the police department or a local private security agency, making sure public events such as conferences, fairs, festivals, and parades are kept safe and under control. They must devise emergency plans and account for everything that might possibly go wrong. They must act quickly should a situation arise and nip it in the bud as soon as it is spotted. Even more important than controlling problems is, of course, preventing them. Deciding where to station security forces and what routes security should use to patrol are two of the main duties of security coordinators. They must be trained in emergency medical procedures as well as in the basics of law enforcement. They also must work within the budget presented to them, deciding how many people to employ, what to pay them, and what to spend on materials, such as communications equipment and weapons.
  • Corporate security managers must regulate the entire security force for a company, conducting interviews and hiring skilled men and women. They must plan and execute security measures, such as assigning patrols, guarding entrances, and installing security alarms and cameras. Corporate security managers also work within a budget. If they believe more security is needed, they must first advise the company’s board of directors so that more funds can be allocated to the security force of the company. They then hire more guards or install more security measures appropriately.
  • The fire chief must be a seasoned firefighter as well as a skilled administrator. The daily concerns of keeping firefighters safe must be balanced with the restrictions of budget and staffing. One of the most important jobs of the fire chief is ensuring that appropriate funding is available for the firefighters to do their jobs safely and effectively. They must always be on the lookout for new technology that may help the department more effectively fight fires. If they feel that the technology is appropriate and cost-effective, they must petition for funds in order to obtain it. The fire chief is also in charge of deciding which of his team gets promoted up the ranks. This means being a skillful judge of character, as well as recognizing specific achievements within the department and rewarding them.
  • The chief of police oversees an entire police department. The chief is in charge of making sure that the budget is sufficient and that the needs of the department are being met. This ensures that the department can properly do its job protecting the citizens of a city or town. A police chief’s main duty is ensuring that her officers are as safe as possible while they protect the populace. This means keeping up with technological trends that may help the officers perform in a more safe and effective way. Also important is keeping an eye on crime trends in the city, in order to create plans to counter criminal activity.

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