Jobs for Emergency Management Professionals: Career Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an emergency management professional. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Emergency management professionals help prepare for and respond to natural disasters. They may be involved in anticipating emergencies and advising specific preparations for a hurricane or flood, or may provide damage assessment and emergency services after a disaster. They may also deal with hostage situations, wars, or hazardous materials that have spilled.

Essential Information

Emergency management professionals are consultants who provide contingency plans and prepare guidelines for local or national disaster preparation. Students who wish to enter the emergency management field may enroll in one of the few bachelor's degree programs currently available. They may also complete a certificate program offered by a university or government program. The emergency management industry is one of the fastest growing career fields in America. It could be appealing to anyone with excellent leadership skills and plenty of energy.

Required Education Certificate or bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (for emergency management directors)
Median Salary (May 2015)* $67,330 (for emergency management directors)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Careers for emergency management professionals can vary somewhat, depending on whether the professional prepares for natural disasters like floods or hurricanes, technological disasters like hazardous material spills or nuclear waste emergencies, hostage situations, or wars. The common elements among all these careers are anticipating emergencies, strategizing the safest possible response to those emergencies and implementation and execution of these strategies if the emergencies occur.

A day in the life of an emergency management professional could include tasks such as:

  • Applying for funding from federal or state groups to use in the event of an emergency
  • Conducting local training in accordance with federal and state standards
  • Damage assessment following a disaster or emergency
  • Developing training procedures for radiological protection and decontamination
  • Coordinating evacuations, collaborating with local law enforcement, and public shelter management
  • Medical facility review to ensure adequacy to meet disaster response needs
  • Meeting with schools, local government, and hospitals to determine their needs in the event of an emergency
  • Revising disaster implementation strategy based on experience or regulatory changes

Emergency management professionals can have numerous titles in the industry. Some job titles for these professionals might be:

  • Emergency services system director
  • Emergency preparedness coordinator
  • Emergency services planning director
  • Emergency management consultant
  • Emergency systems specialist
  • Emergency management program director

Job Requirements

Students may opt to receive a bachelor's degree in emergency management from one of a few colleges that offer this major. Prospective emergency management professionals may also enroll in certificate programs through a university or a government institution such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The online independent study program offered by FEMA covers topics such as resource distribution, running facilities, managing volunteers, hazardous weather conditions, developing contingency plans, and mitigating damage.

Additional Skills

For this high visibility position, applicants are expected to have keen leadership abilities, quick decision-making skills, physical and emotional endurance, and empathy. Volunteer experience and government internships are likely to be viewed positively by employers as well.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of emergency management directors is expected to grow by about 6% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS reported that the median annual salary earned by emergency management directors was $67,330 in May 2015, although the top 10% of earners took home $127,180 or more per year.

Emergency management professionals can take a postsecondary certificate or bachelor's degree in emergency management, and may opt to earn voluntary certification. They need strong leadership skills and the ability to make decisions quickly. Jobs in this field are expected to increase at an average rate during the next decade.


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