Government, Community & Emergency Services

Government, community, and emergency services cover a vast array of specialized sectors that exist to support local communities in a number of ways.

Every state in the US has localized government departments with groups of employers who help individuals, groups, and communities within the state in different ways.

From helping individuals access benefits, healthcare, and driving licenses, to developing policies covering education, transport, healthcare, energy and mining, and more!

Community services can be not-for-profit or profit organizations that support, educate, advocate and guide individuals and groups. This might be anyone experiencing homelessness, mental health barriers, disability barriers, or addiction support.

Areas within community services include:

  • Indigenous Environmental Health/Population Health
  • Volunteering
  • Youth Services and Child Protection
  • Youth Justice
  • Housing and Homelessness
  • Probation Services and Offender Rehabilitation
  • Adoption and Fostering Services

Emergency services cover the groups who support our communities to keep them safe. This includes the police force, fire fighting services, ambulances, and first-responders.

At the heart of all of these sectors within the industry is a desire to help others and work as part of a broader team to aid and support others positively and proactively.

Depending on the area of the industry you might be interested in, there are many key strengths and characteristics that will set you up nicely for success, including:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strong team collaborator
  • Adaptable and flexible to handle changing situations
  • Superb problem-solving skills
  • The ability to remain calm in a crisis

Alongside specialized roles, the industry is supported by a robust system covering administration, marketing, communications, finance and accounting, business services, and many more.

If being part of an organization and team that is driven towards a common goal of supporting, developing, and building cohesive communities sounds like something you’re interested in – this could be just the right industry to explore a career in for you!

What You Could Do

Roles across the industry are highly varied and include a mix of low-skilled, entry-level positions, highly-skilled roles, and professional roles requiring specialized knowledge.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Firefighter: Firefighters are trained specialists who handle emergencies. This is predominantly fires but could also include search and rescue, high-angle rescue, motor crash scenes, and marine accidents. Firefighters work as part of a core team to assess, resolve and manage situations in the fastest and most effective way possible. It’s a demanding career but an exceptionally rewarding one! They have superb communication and problem-solving skills.
  • Police Officer: Police officers have four primary responsibilities: enforcing the law, preventing crime, responding to emergencies, and providing support to the community they serve. All of these responsibilities are as important as the other. Police officers may work for specific segments within their local, such as road regulation or drug and alcohol management. Many police are keen to support their community and also complete regular outreach and educational duties in schools.
  • Government Policy Manager: Government policy managers work within governments to create new policies and strategic plans. They lead teams of people in creating and maintaining cohesive policies that reflect the needs of the communities and individuals they serve. Government policy managers typically specialize in one area or department, such as healthcare, education, transport, or welfare.
  • Policy Advisor: Policy Advisers are responsible for providing advice on regulatory and policy issues. Like policy managers, they tend to work within one government department and become experts in that area. Policy Advisers analyze past policies and make recommendations on solutions for various issues relevant to their department. These recommendations can then form the basis of new policies that meet community and governmental needs while adhering to legal requirements.
  • Community Services Worker: Community service workers support different individuals to become more independent in their lives. They may work with individuals with various physical or mental disabilities or support people who act as carers for other family members. They assist with everyday activities, including personal care, feeding, chores, cleaning, and helping with mobility, attending appointments/activities, and shopping. Community service workers help tackle problems their community faces, working to ensure everyone has access to nurturing environments to grow and connect.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

The best way to learn more and help form decisions about the roles available and what you might be suited for is to conduct as much research as possible and build a profile from there.

Graduate Outcomes & Gender Split

While a degree isn’t crucial for every role or career pathway into the industry, it can help to know what employment from this route looks like.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s a look at some degrees that could be a great starting point for this industry:

  • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting, & Related Services Graduates in Full-Time Employment: 49.2%
  • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting, & Related Services Graduates in Employment Overall: 78.5%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within.

Recent statistics indicate the gender split across the industry as:

  • 57% Male
  • 43% Female

Keep in mind there will be some areas where this might not always be the case, such as within the police and firefighting services, where there are typically more males.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Firefighter Roles: $48,000-$53,000
  • Police Officer Roles: $44,200-$54,000
  • Policy Officer Roles: $59,100-$71,000
  • Policy Manager Roles: $113,00-$135,000
  • Community Services Worker Roles: $34,300-$51,100
  • Probation Officer Roles: $42,800-$57,000

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.

Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

According to reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is expected to see continued job growth between now and 2025.

Growing levels of threats related to disasters, terror attacks, biological hazards, and shootings in the U.S. are expected to drive the growth of the emergency services market significantly. An increase in complexity and uncertainty of disasters is also likely to impact government and policy roles as leaders and communities attempt to prevent and overcome these challenges.

Between 2018 and 2028, the community services and community work careers are expected to grow 11% and produce 14,100 job opportunities across the U.S. It’s expected this is due to an aging population that will require more support in the coming decades.

Some of the priority in-demand skills for the industry include:

  • Communication – especially virtual collaboration
  • Self-management
  • Leadership and management
  • Language, Literacy, and Numeracy
  • Customer Service

The emergency services, especially firefighting, are always seeking suitable candidates to join

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

For some professional roles, a bachelor’s degree can set you up well with the foundation of theory and knowledge to help you build a successful career in the industry.

Degree pathways you could pursue include:

  • Bachelor of Public Services
  • Bachelor of Public Administration
  • Bachelor of Community Services
  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Bachelor of Communications and Policy Work
  • Bachelor of Social Policy and Administration

For most emergency services roles, specialist training is required. For example, to become a police officer, you’ll need to pass the law enforcement entrance exam and graduate from the police academy.

Even though most community workers have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

Some of the best-rated universities for public service studies include:

  • Harvard University
  • Duke University
  • New York University
  • Princeton University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Virginia

Where to Learn More

You can learn more about different pathways through professional bodies and organizations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organizations to help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.