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AEM®/CEM® FAQs

Here are just a few of the reasons why many employers now list the CEM as a job requirement when posting open positions for emergency managers:

  • A Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) has the knowledge, skills and ability to effectively manage a comprehensive emergency management program.
  • A CEM has a working knowledge of all the basic tenets of emergency management, including mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
  • A CEM has experience and knowledge of interagency and community-wide participation in planning, coordination and management functions designed to improve emergency management capabilities.
  • A CEM can effectively accomplish the goals and objectives of any emergency management program in all environments with little or no additional training orientation.
  • An AEM shows dedication to the field of Emergency Management for individuals who do not meet the CEM requirements.
  • An AEM has achieved a benchmark for professionalism by meeting the training, references, and essay application requirements as well as passing the certification exam.

There are many reasons why emergency managers decide to pursue certification. Here are some of the benefits:

  • To receive recognition of professional competence.
  • To join an established network of credentialed professionals.
  • To take advantage of enhanced career opportunities.
  • To gain access to career development counseling.
  • To obtain formal recognition of educational activities.

Candidates do not have to be IAEM members to be certified, although IAEM membership does offer you a number of benefits that can assist you through the certification process..

  • Emergency management work history. Demonstrate at least three (3) years full-time equivalent work experience in a disaster/emergency management position.
  • Emergency management experience. Comprehensive experience must include participation (in a major role) in a full-scale exercise, actual disaster, two separate functional exercises, or major public event.
  • Education. A four-year baccalaureate degree in any subject area is required for Europa, Oceania, and USA candidates. Effective Jan. 1, 2017, Canadian CEM applicants will be required to have completed any three- or four-year bachelor program or any post-graduate degree in emergency management or related field.
  • Training. 100 contact hours in emergency management training and 100 hours in general management training. Note: No more than 25% of hours can be in any one topic.
  • Contributions to the profession. Six separate contributions in areas such as professional membership, speaking, publishing articles, serving on volunteer boards or committees and other areas beyond the scope of the emergency management job requirements.
  • Comprehensive emergency management essay. Real-life scenarios are provided, and response must demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities as listed in the essay instructions.
  • Multiple-choice examination. Candidates sit for the 100-question exam after their initial application and the other requirements are satisfied. The exam is a maximum of two (2) hours. A Study Guide is available, further describing format and sources.
  • References. One letter of reference (signed and on letterhead from a current supervisor) plus contact information for a total of three references, with the option to upload two additional reference letters if the candidate feels it would be helpful to their review.
  • Note: A baccalaureate in emergency management reduces the experience requirement to 2 years and waives EM training if the degree was earned recently.

  • Training. 100 contact hours in emergency management training and 100 hours in general management training. Note: No more than 25% of hours can be in any one topic.
  • Comprehensive emergency management essay. Real-life scenarios are provided, and response must demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities as listed in the essay instructions.
  • Multiple-choice examination. Candidates sit for the 100-question exam after their initial application and the other requirements are satisfied. The exam is a maximum of two (2) hours. A Study Guide is available, further describing format and sources.
  • References. One letter of reference (signed and on letterhead from a current supervisor) plus contact information for a total of three references, with the option to upload two additional reference letters if the candidate feels it would be helpful to their review.
  • Lifetime applications: Any CEM familiar with the candidate may nominate a candidate for lifetime certification.
  • References: Requirement is to provide a minimum of one letter of reference (signed and on letterhead from a current supervisor) plus contact information for a total of three references, with the option to upload two additional reference letters if the candidate feels it would be helpful to their review.
  • Professional Contributions:
    C) Service Role: may now be part of job duties and submission must support comprehensive emergency management;
    D) Leadership Role: any member of a board qualifies; and
    F) Speaking: removal of the 20-minute requirement.
  • Initial Certification: Candidates must submit the certification fee ($415 for IAEM members; $625 for non-IAEM members) to be eligible to sit for the exam and have their online credential application reviewed by the CEM Commission. More information is available on the Initial Certification web page.
  • RecertificationThe recertification fee is $265 for IAEM members and $345 for non-IAEM members. Recertification requirements are posted in the box on the Recertification web page, and requirements vary based on how long the AEM/CEM has been certified.

    The certification fee entitles candidates to:

  • Sit for the exam twice (if candidates do not pass the exam on the first attempt).
  • Review of their certification packet by the CEM Commission twice (if a candidate’s credential submission is not approved the first time, candidates have 90 days from the date on their notification letter to submit supplemental information. Application submissions that were deemed incomplete during the first review will be reviewed a second time and will either be approved or rejected).

Note: Candidates who do not pass the exam on the second attempt or receive notification that their credential submission has been rejected must pay the certification fee again and start the process from the beginning.

While the AEM/CEM designation is a certification for individuals, EMAP – or the Emergency Management Accreditation Program – is a credential for agencies. EMAP includes a recommendation for agencies over a certain size to employ personnel who have earned the AEM/CEM.

More information can be found in the 2009 CEM Corner article, Benchmarks in Emergency Management – Pinnacles of Success or Just Window Dressing?

The International Association of Emergency Managers U.S. Council (IAEM-USA) Uniformed Services Committee (USC) coordinated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow for the use of GI Bill benefits to pay fees related to IAEM’s Certified Emergency Manager Program. U.S. veterans, active duty members, and others eligible in the Guard and Reserve may use their GI Bill benefits to reimburse 100 percent of the CEM application and testing fees.

Interested service personnel are urged to contact their VA counselors for information on how to apply the GI Bill toward certification. The general rule is that the interested person must first pay for the application and complete the test with a passing grade. The VA will reimburse the application fee upon receipt of a request letter and proof of passing the CEM examination. Additional information is available at www.gibill.va.gov/pamphlets/LCweb.htm.

The letters should attest to the candidate’s character and explain why he/she is deserving of the AEM/CEM designation. Many of the letters outline individual accomplishments, work ethic, leadership skills/roles, job responsibilities, years of work experience, and initiatives candidates have taken in the emergency management field.

The AEM/CEM applications outline that course work completed to earn the baccalaureate degree cannot also be used to meet any portion of the 100 hours of disaster/emergency management training, unless the baccalaureate degree was in Emergency Management, in which case candidates may use the degree towards the Education requirement and may also use it to reduce the Emergency Management Training requirement. If additional advanced degrees are held, associated coursework can be applied to training. It is considered double dipping to use courses from one’s baccalurate degree toward the AEM/CEM training requirement when that baccaluareate degree will also be used to fulfill the education requirement (either in a CEM application or upgrade application).

As of Jan. 1, 2016, the CEM Executive Board provided clarification on use of a college degree to meet the CEM experience and training requirements:

  • A Europa, Oceania, or USA candidate may use a bachelor’s or master’s degree in EM or related field to reduce the work experience and reduce the number of hours of EM training required depending on when the degree was earned.
  • If a candidate uses a degree in Emergency Management (different from the degree used to meet the education requirement) to reduce the EM Training requirement, courses from that degree can be used toward the GM training.

In September 2012, the CEM® Commission agreed that they would accept webinars for training or conference attendance based on the content and require that candidates show proof of attendance. Candidates may only use 25 hours in one subject area for training and/or must show documentation of 40 hours for conference participation.

Yes, with the right documentation. In order to use a professional conference toward the certification or recertification training requirement, candidates will need to submit the individual session from the conference, not the entire conference, for the commission to review. Candidates will need to include a copy of the agenda showing the length and date of that particular session, independent documentation of attendance, as well as a description or syllabus to show what was covered during the particular session. Note: Double dipping is not allowed. Therefore any conference used toward the training requirement may not also be submitted under the B) Professional Conference Attendance professional contribution.

Candidates may only receive credit for each professional contribution once within each CEM, upgrade or recertification application. Even if the candidate completes multiple submissions for the same professional contribution category, the commission will only approve a maximum of one from each category. Note that several professional contributions may require multiple entries to meet the category requirement. Speaking, Membership, Professional Conference are examples of categories where a candidate may have multiple entries toward fulfilling one professional contribution.

FEMA Independent Study (IS) Program course certificates never expire. If a candidate wishes to refresh their skills, they may retake the exam; however, FEMA’s system will not re-score the exam and the original date of completion will remain on the candidates certificate of completion.

If a candidate is trying to submit an exam for a course that is required to be taken each year, please see the IS course list and look for courses with a yearly suffix. Example: IS-19.14 where .14 indicates 2014.

No, only membership in a non-profit organization composed of emergency management professionals such as IAEM, NEMA and similar member-based groups can be used.

Contact the IAEM Education & Certification Manager at CEMinfo@iaem.com, or Sharon Kelly at 703-538-1795, ext. 1785 or info@iaem.com.

Emergency Management training hours falls under one or more of the four phases of EM (Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation) or under the additional area from Homeland Security – Prevention.

General Management training hours are awarded for training that is applicable to a MANAGER in any profession – finance, budgeting, management, leadership, communications, teaching, security, safety, etc.

We do not usually accept technical training, unless it is directly related to emergency management. An example, How to operate a piece of machinery, would be considered technical training and therefore, not approved. However, learning how a piece of machinery is used by response teams in a disaster and how EMs use the data obtained is acceptable training for certification.

CEM® and AEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.