Emergency Management Director Careers

The services of an emergency management agency include, among others:

  • Identifying and assessing hazards, both natural and manmade
  • Developing emergency operations plans and procedures, training personnel, administering disaster assistance programs
  • Coordinating all disaster response services and programs

As such, the emergency management director, as the chief professional overseeing the emergency management agency, is responsible for any and all activities and programs associated with the agency. It’s a big job, and it’s typically a role reserved for people with lots of experience and an advanced degree in emergency management.

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Emergency Management Director Job Description

An emergency management director is responsible for:

  • Establishing and maintaining an emergency response structure
  • Establishing and maintaining a comprehensive organization, which includes the oversight of employees, facilities, and equipment
  • Assessing and improving emergency management capabilities of the organization or agency
  • Collaborating and developing liaisons with a number of organizations, including volunteer agencies and public and private entities
  • Facilitating the coordination of all local, state and federal resources and following all regulations

Emergency management director jobs, due to the highly demanding nature of the position, require professionals that have extensive experience in the emergency management field, including a deep understanding of local, state, and federal emergency management protocols and systems. Their experience and skills must include a working knowledge of public policy development, an understanding of the legislative process and of strategic planning, financial management, and organizational development as it concerns emergency management.

State Emergency Management Directors

At the state level, emergency management directors are usually appointed positions. In 34 states, the governor appoints the emergency management director, and some emergency management directors also serve as the state’s homeland security advisor. In addition, more than half serve as the state administering agency, which administers grant programs for federal emergency management and homeland security.

The state emergency management director, who reports to the governor, must coordinate programs and activities across all levels of government and with private sector entities, as well.

The Path to Becoming an Emergency Management Director

The job of the emergency management director is typically reserved for professionals with extensive education and training in the field of emergency management. A bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement is commonplace in this profession, with emergency management directors often possessing degrees in such areas as: emergency management, environmental science, public administration, public safety, or business management. Many emergency management directors go on to achieve a master’s degree in this field, as well.

Emergency management experience in either the public or private is a must for the position of emergency management director. As such, emergency management director jobs are usually reserved for those professionals who have worked their way up through the profession, often beginning their careers as emergency management planners, field supervisors, and facility coordinators.

Salary Statistics for Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earned a median annual salary of $59,700 in May 2009, with the median among the top 10 percent being $107,810.

The industries with the highest level of employment for emergency management directors in May 2009 included:

  1. Local government
  2. State government
  3. General medical and surgical hospitals
  4. Community food and housing, and emergency and other relief services
  5. Electric power generation, transmission and distribution

The top-paying industries for emergency management directors in May 2009 were: scientific research and development services ($93,970), waste treatment and disposal ($89,820), and management of companies and enterprises ($89,790).

The top-paying states for emergency management directors were:

  1. California: $97,450
  2. Florida: $83,460
  3. New Jersey: $83,100
  4. Nevada: $81,870
  5. Virginia: $81,090


Resources for Emergency Management Directors


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