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

Sep 21, 2019

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.

Graduates of a disaster and emergency management program are trained in dealing with and leading people through disaster situations. A master's degree program will include coursework in information technology, economics, ethics and many other subjects.

Essential Information

Candidates for a master's degree 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 Director
Education Requirements Master of Science
Other Requirements Bachelor's Degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% for emergency management directors*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $74,420 for emergency management directors*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Master's Degree in Disaster and Emergency Management Coursework

Many universities offer a master's degree 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 Degree in Disaster and Emergency Management

Graduates with a master's degree 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 employment growth for emergency management directors between 2018 and 2028 and reports 9,900 emergency directors were employed in 2018, more than half of whom worked for local or state governments ( The mean annual salary for emergency management directors in 2018 was $82,570.

The average salary also depends on the industry. As reported by the BLS, top paying industries in 2018 for these positions and mean annual salaries include:

  • Federal executive branch (OES designation): $153,650
  • Oil and gas extraction: $126,080
  • Natural gas distribution: $124,050

Individuals who have earned a Master of Science in Emergency Management are educated in various aspects of crisis and emergency leadership and management. With these credentials you'll be uniquely qualified to lead others through emergency situations, a most welcome quality in times of chaos.

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