Salary & Career Info for a Disaster & Emergency Management Master's

Disaster and Emergency Management is generally offered as a Master of Science graduate degree. Continue reading for an overview of the program, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Essential Information

Candidates for a master's in disaster and emergency management, such as the Master of Science (M.S.) in Emergency Management, must have a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Some programs require standardized graduate admission tests, essays, references, and a personal interview. Because coursework in disaster and emergency management programs focuses on management and public policy issues, it is helpful, but not essential to have an academic background in these subjects.

Career Emergency Management Specialist
Education Requirements Master of Science
Other Requirements Bachelor's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 8%*
Median Annual Salary (2012) $59,770*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Master's in Disaster and Emergency Management Coursework

Many universities offer a master's in public affairs or public administration with a specialization in disaster and emergency management. Coursework includes classes in information technology, management, economics, ethics, municipal planning, and communications, all with an emergency and disaster orientation. Some programs offer a fieldwork component such as a hands-on, mock disaster management scenario, or internships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Association, or other local, national, or international organizations.

Students learn to prepare for and identify emergencies and disaster situations, budget for emergencies and disasters, manage delivery of emergency services, and manage the public communication about emergencies and disasters. Some disaster and emergency master's programs may also require a master's thesis and oral or written examinations.

Career Information: Master's in Disaster and Emergency Management

Graduates with a master's in disaster and emergency management may take jobs in the public sector with municipalities, states, the military, or law enforcement agencies. Corporations which handle sensitive information or in industries in which disasters might be devastating, such as oil and gas companies, electrical generation companies, chemical companies, and financial firms, may also require the services of an emergency management professional. In addition, nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, schools, universities, and community service organizations often hire disaster and emergency management specialists. Basic job duties include coordinating disaster response, training other employees or community members for disaster preparedness, and developing plans and procedures for natural, wartime, or technology disasters and hostage situations.

Salary Information and Job Outlook: Disaster and Emergency Management Specialists

The disaster and emergency specialist position was heralded by the U.S. News and World Report as one of the 50 best careers in 2010. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects average (8%) employment growth in the field between 2012 and 2022 and reports 9,900 emergency directors were employed in 2012, more than half of whom worked for local or state governments ( The median annual salary for emergency management directors in 2012 was $59,770.

The average salary also depends on the industry. As reported by the BLS, top paying industries in 2014 for these positions and mean annual salaries include:

  • Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation): $151,020
  • Scientific Research and Development Services: $100,150
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $102,570

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