Job Description of Emergency Management Careers

According to the National Emergency Management Association’s (NEMA) Biennial Survey, 2011 went down as a record year in the United States with a count of 99 major disasters. 2011 was also a record year at the state level, as more than 250 incidents occurred that required state governors to declare emergencies during that time – a 38 percent increase over 2010.

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With 27 new governors taking office and 17 states appointing new state emergency directors in 2011, the need for individuals educated and skilled in emergency management is more critical than ever. Although emergency management is a hot button topic, particularly following the nation’s most recent major natural disasters, including the Oklahoma tornadoes and Hurricane Sandy, the scope and breadth of emergency management careers are often misunderstood.

Emergency management jobs may fall under a wide array of professional career fields, including:

  • Public Health
  • Public and Non-Profit
  • Homeland Security
  • Business
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Information Technology


Where Are Emergency Management Careers Found?


Emergency management jobs can be found in the public and non-profit sectors, such as through local police and fire departments, organizations like the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, or governmental organizations like FEMA, the Department of Health, and the Department of Justice.

Homeland security has become a large segment of emergency management, with abundant career opportunities occurring in such organizations as the National Guard, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Coast Guard.

Private Sector

In the private sector, individuals may find a plethora of emergency management job opportunities as facility managers, business consultants, safety officers, business continuity planners, emergency managers, and risk managers. Professionals in the environmental sciences field, such as in forensic science and flood plain management, also play an important role in emergency management, as do engineering professionals, including civil engineers, structural engineers, and earthquake specialists, among others.

Within the social sciences field, jobs in emergency management include:

  • Geographers
  • Urban Planners
  • Political Scientists
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Disaster Research Specialists
  • Public Information Officers
  • Emergency Communication and Notification Professionals


Job Descriptions for Common Emergency Management Careers

Careers in emergency management often require extensive study, experience, and mastery of specific skills and specialized knowledge. That’s the kind of thing that can only come from an emergency management degree program. The most important traits that emergency management professionals must exhibit are leadership and specialized knowledge.

Although emergency management careers can be found through all levels of local, state, and federal government and in private, public and nonprofit organizations, job titles for emergency management professionals commonly include the following:

Emergency Management Specialist

Emergency management specialists, who are often under the direction of an emergency manager, assist in overseeing an emergency management program, which may include planning, organizing, monitoring and evaluating the program. Further, emergency management specialists are called upon to provide direction during emergency situations and natural disasters, which often include coordinating with other agencies and organizations.

Emergency management specialists in varying roles are also often referred to as:

  • Emergency Preparedness Program Specialist
  • Emergency Preparedness Specialist
  • Emergency Management Consultant
  • Emergency Management Coordinator

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors are the high-level emergency management professionals who are called upon to direct and coordinate all emergency management activities, including planning, organization, control, and implementation.

Emergency management directors ensure all collaborations with agencies and organizations are well planned and implemented. They always work to ensure the effective administration of an emergency management program, which often includes establishing and maintaining policies, communication procedures, annual budgets (including funding, financial assistance, and grants), and emergency operations plans.

Emergency management directors are also often referred to as:

  • Emergency Management System Director (EMS Director)
  • Emergency Services Director

Emergency Management Program Training Specialist

Emergency management program training specialists are responsible for designing and implementing emergency programs. These emergency management professionals are also responsible for the delivery of all training and tasks associated with the emergency program.

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Emergency management program training specialists may be involved in curriculum development, the design of courses and programs, and the development of materials used for training, workshops, exercises, and projects. They also work to design and develop manuals and forms. They determine gaps in planning areas and develop training materials to fill these gaps.

Emergency management program training specialists may also be referred to as:

  • Emergency Planner
  • Emergency Management Planner

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