Emergency Management Directors

Summary

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Emergency management directors work with government officials, private companies, and the general public to design emergency response plans.
Quick Facts: Emergency Management Directors
2015 Median Pay $67,330 per year
$32.37 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 10,500
Job Outlook, 2014-24 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 700

What Emergency Management Directors Do

Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters or other emergencies. They also help lead the response during and after emergencies, often in coordination with public safety officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Work Environment

Most emergency management directors work for state or local governments. However, others may work for private companies, hospitals, or nonprofit organizations.

How to Become an Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree, as well as multiple years of work experience in emergency response, disaster planning, or public administration.

Pay

The median annual wage for emergency management directors was $67,330 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of emergency management directors is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. A growing number of emergency management directors will be needed to develop response plans to protect people and property, and to limit the damage from emergencies and disasters.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for emergency management directors.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of emergency management directors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about emergency management directors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Emergency Management Directors Do About this section

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Emergency management directors may help train volunteers and first responders in emergency procedures.

Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. They also help lead the response during and after emergencies, often in coordination with public safety officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

Duties

Emergency management directors typically do the following:

  • Assess hazards and prepare plans to respond to emergencies and disasters in order to minimize risk to people and property
  • Meet with public safety officials, private companies, and the general public to get recommendations regarding emergency response plans
  • Organize emergency response training programs and exercises for staff, volunteers, and other responders
  • Coordinate the sharing of resources and equipment within the community and across communities to assist in responding to an emergency
  • Prepare and analyze damage assessments following disasters or emergencies
  • Review emergency plans of individual organizations, such as medical facilities, to ensure their adequacy
  • Apply for federal funding for emergency management planning, responses and recovery and report on the use of funds allocated
  • Review local emergency operations plans and revise them if necessary
  • Maintain facilities used during emergency operations

Emergency management directors are responsible for planning and leading the responses to natural disasters and other emergencies. Directors work with government agencies, nonprofits, private companies, and the general public to develop effective plans that minimize damage and disruptions during an emergency.

To develop emergency response plans, directors typically research “best practices” from around the country and from other emergency management agencies. Directors also must prepare plans and procedures that meet local, state, and federal regulations.

Directors must analyze the resources, equipment, and staff available to respond to emergencies. If resources or equipment are lacking, directors must either revise their plans or obtain the needed resources from another community or state. Many directors coordinate with fire, emergency medical service, police departments, and public works agencies in other communities to locate and share equipment during an emergency. Directors must be in contact with other agencies to collect and share information regarding the scope of the emergency, the potential costs, and the resources or staff needed.

After plans are developed, emergency management directors typically ensure that individuals and groups become familiar with the emergency procedures. Directors often use social media to disseminate plans and warnings to the general public.

Emergency management directors run training courses and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers, and local agencies to ensure an effective and coordinated response to an emergency. Directors also may visit schools, hospitals, or other community groups to update everyone on the emergency plans.

During an emergency, directors typically maintain a command center at which personnel monitor and manage the emergency operations. Directors help lead the response, making adjustments to or prioritizing certain actions if necessary. These actions may include ordering evacuations, conducting rescue missions, or opening up public shelters for those displaced by the disaster. Emergency management directors also may need to conduct press conferences or other outreach activities to keep the public informed about the emergency.

Following an emergency, directors must assess the damage to their community and must coordinate getting assistance and supplies into the community if necessary. Directors may need to request state or federal assistance to help execute their emergency response plan and provide support to effected citizens, organizations, and communities. Directors may also revise their plans and procedures to prepare for future emergencies or disasters.

Emergency management directors working for hospitals, universities, or private companies may be called business continuity managers. Similar to their counterparts in local and state government, business continuity managers prepare plans and procedures to help businesses maintain operations and minimize losses during and after an emergency.

Work Environment About this section

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Most emergency management directors must be on call at all times to assist in emergency response.

Emergency management directors held about 10,500 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most emergency management directors were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 52%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 12
Hospitals; state, local, and private 9
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 4

Although most emergency management directors work in an office, they typically travel to meet with various government agencies, community groups, and private companies.

Many directors work in stressful situations during disasters and emergencies.

Work Schedules

Most emergency management directors work full time. In addition, most are on call at all times and may need to work overtime to respond to emergencies and to support emergency management operations. Others may work evenings and weekends to meet with various community groups in preparing their emergency response plans.

How to Become an Emergency Management Director About this section

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Applicants need years of work experience in law enforcement, fire safety, or an emergency management field.

Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree, as well as multiple years of work experience in emergency response, disaster planning, or public administration.

Education

Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, accounting, finance, emergency management, or public health. Some directors working in the private sector in the area of business continuity management may need to have a degree in computer science, information systems administration, or another information technology (IT) field.

Some smaller municipalities or local governments may hire applicants who have just a high school diploma. However, these applicants usually need extensive work experience in emergency management if they are to be hired.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Applicants typically need multiple years of work experience, often with the military, law enforcement, fire safety, or in another emergency management field, before they can be hired as an emergency management director. Previous work experience in these areas enables applicants to make difficult decisions in stressful and time-sensitive situations. Such experience also prepares one to work with various agencies to ensure that proper resources are used to respond to emergencies.

For more information, see the profiles on police and detectives, firefighters, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, and EMTs and paramedics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require directors to obtain certification within a certain timeframe after being hired in the position.

Many agencies and states offer voluntary certificate programs to help emergency management directors obtain additional skills. Some employers may prefer or even require a Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM®), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), or equivalent designation. Emergency management directors can attain the CEM designation through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM); the certification must be renewed every 5 years. The CBCP designation is given by the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) and must be renewed every 2 years.

Both associations require applicants to complete a certain number of continuing education courses prior to recertification.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Emergency management directors must write out and communicate their emergency preparedness plans to all levels of government, as well as to the public.

Critical-thinking skills. Emergency management directors must anticipate hazards and problems that may arise from an emergency in order to respond effectively.

Decisionmaking skills. Emergency management directors must make timely decisions, often in stressful situations. They must also identify the strengths and weaknesses of all solutions and approaches, as well as the costs and benefits of each action.

Interpersonal skills. Emergency management directors must work with other government agencies, law enforcement and fire officials, and the general public to coordinate emergency responses.

Leadership skills. To ensure effective responses to emergencies, emergency management directors need to organize and train a variety of people.

Pay About this section

Emergency Management Directors

Median annual wages, May 2015

Management occupations

$98,560

Emergency management directors

$67,330

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for emergency management directors was $67,330 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,000, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $127,180.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for emergency management directors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $86,500
Professional, scientific, and technical services 78,720
Hospitals; state, local, and private 76,040
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 59,860
State government, excluding education and hospitals 58,600

Most emergency management directors work full time. In addition, most are on call at all times and may need to work overtime to respond to emergencies and to support emergency management operations. Others may work evenings and weekends to meet with various community groups in preparing their emergency response plans.

Job Outlook About this section

Emergency Management Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Emergency management directors

6%

Management occupations

6%

 

Employment of emergency management directors is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 

Every geographic region has the potential for weather-related emergencies such as flooding, droughts, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Increasing urbanization and continued population growth in coastal regions may increase the number of people who are vulnerable to these emergencies. Emergency management directors will be needed to develop response plans to protect more people and property, and to limit the damage from emergencies and disasters.

Employment is projected to increase as both local and state governments place a greater emphasis on preparing for natural and human-made emergencies and seek to minimize the risks of being underprepared to deal with such emergencies. Employment growth, however, may be somewhat limited because of budgetary constraints in state and local governments. Although local and state revenue and spending have increased since the end of the recession, continued budget uncertainty and other spending obligations may lead to only modest growth in government hiring.

In addition, some local and state governments rely on federal financial assistance to fund their emergency management agencies. Yet similar budgetary problems at the federal level may lead to continued cutbacks in funding and grants to local and state agencies, further limiting the hiring of emergency management personnel. Some smaller counties may not hire full-time, stand-alone emergency management directors, choosing instead to shift the job responsibilities to the fire chief, police chief, or other government employees.

Employment, therefore, is likely to grow fastest in private companies. Emergency management directors will be needed to help businesses and organizations continue to provide essential products and services during and after emergencies. However, as in state and local government, some smaller companies, hospitals, or college campuses may not have a stand-alone director. Instead, an information technology (IT) director, a registered nurse, or a public safety officer may handle the emergency management duties.

Job Prospects

Competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Emergency management directors are a relatively small occupation, and only modest increases in state and local government budgets mean that new job openings are likely to be limited.

However, retirements over the next decade may provide some opportunities for those interested in entering the occupation. Applicants with extensive work experience in an emergency management role will have the best job prospects.

Employment projections data for emergency management directors, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Emergency management directors

11-9161 10,500 11,200 6 700 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of emergency management directors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Budget analysts

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending.

Bachelor's degree $71,590
EMTs and paramedics

EMTs and Paramedics

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $31,980
Firefighters

Firefighters

Firefighters control and put out fires, and respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.

Postsecondary nondegree award $46,870
Management analysts

Management Analysts

Management analysts, often called management consultants, propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency. They advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable through reduced costs and increased revenues.

Bachelor's degree $81,320
Police and detectives

Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

See How to Become One $60,270
Top executives

Top Executives

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.

Bachelor's degree $102,690
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Emergency Management Directors,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm (visited June 30, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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State & Area Data

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2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.