Emergency Management Directors
Sign In
OverviewSalaryAboutEducationWhere are the jobsEmploymentGenderRace/Origin
Plan and direct disaster response or crisis management activities, provide disaster preparedness training, and prepare emergency plans and procedures for natural (e.g., hurricanes, floods, earthquakes), wartime, or technological (e.g., nuclear power plant emergencies or hazardous materials spills) disasters or hostage situations.
Undergraduate program resulting in the highest median salary ($127K): Public Administration
Largest undergraduate program (15.8% of workers): Criminal Justice and Fire Protection
Explore Pathways
Titles for this career often contain these words
Fewer details
Responsibilities and activities

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 public regarding emergency response plans
  • Organize emergency response training for staff, volunteers, and other responders
  • Coordinate the sharing of resources and equipment within and across communities to assist in responding to an emergency
  • Analyze and prepare 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 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 are limited or equipment is lacking, directors must either revise their plans or get what they need 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 they develop plans, 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 public.

Emergency management directors oversee training courses and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers, and local agencies to help ensure an effective and coordinated response to an emergency. Directors also may visit schools, hospitals, or other community groups to provide updates on plans for emergencies.

During an emergency, directors typically maintain a command center at which staff monitor and manage the emergency operations. Directors help lead the response, prioritizing certain actions if necessary. These actions may include ordering evacuations, conducting rescue missions, or opening public shelters for those displaced by the emergency. 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 coordinate getting any needed assistance and supplies into the community. Directors may need to request state or federal assistance to help execute their emergency response plan and provide support to affected 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.

Median salary: $76,250 annually
Half of those employed in this career earn between $55,660 and $104,880.
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for this career compare to other jobs' salaries?
Fewer details
Salary growth for emergency management directors
Is this job likely to reward you for sticking with it through pay raises and promotions? The higher a job’s “experience quotient,” the more you are likely to get as you stay there.
Experience quotient percentile
Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?
Salary distribution
Number employed
About Emergency Management Directors
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs? The availability of health care, especially employer provided health care, and pension plans can add significantly to the value of compensation you receive in a career. These charts compare how this career compares to other careers with regard to health care and pension plans.
Employee has health insurance
Employer is providing health insurance
Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of emergency management directors who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Responsible for Others' Health (72%)
  • Time Pressure (48%)
  • Consequence of Error (48%)
Fewer details
Personality and skills
Can you see yourself in the ranks of Emergency Management Directors? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.
Communication skills
Emergency management directors must be able to clearly convey their emergency preparedness plans, both orally and in writing, to a variety of audiences.
Critical-thinking skills
Emergency management directors must anticipate hazards and problems that may arise from an emergency in order to respond effectively.
Decision-making skills
Emergency management directors must analyze and choose among options, often in stressful situations. They must identify the strengths and weaknesses, costs and benefits, and other variables of each approach.
Interpersonal skills
Emergency management directors must work with other government agencies, law enforcement and fire officials, and the 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.
Injury and Illness
About 115 emergency management directors become injured or ill for every 10,000 workers, making this job more dangerous than 84% of other careers.
All injuries and illnesses
Education pathways to this career
Education attained by emergency management directors
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), emergency management directors typically hold a bachelor's degree.
Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as emergency management directors as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.
Details: Education and training recommended for emergency management directors

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

Small municipalities or local governments may hire applicants whose highest level of educational attainment is a high school diploma. However, these applicants usually must have extensive work experience in emergency management if they are to be hired.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for emergency management directors

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

Many agencies and states offer voluntary certification 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 CBCP designation is given by the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI).

Certification must be renewed after a specified number of years. Both organizations require candidates to complete certain continuing education courses prior to recertification.

Education level of Emergency Management Directors
About 61% of emergency management directors have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by emergency management directors
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 60% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
  1. Criminal Justice and Fire Protection
  2. Business Management and Administration
  3. Liberal Arts
  4. Biology
  5. History
Fewer details
Not so much?
The link between degrees and this career
With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as emergency management directors, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.
Expand degrees
Criminal Justice and...Business Management ...Liberal ArtsBiologyHistoryGeneral BusinessCommunicationsNursingHealth and Medical A...Political Science an...All other degreesThis jobTop 10 majors
Where are the jobs
State-by-state employment numbers
Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.
Select a state to see local area details
Number of Emergency Management Directors per 1,000 workers (ACS)
Fewer details
Job density versus job count
Which states hire the most emergency management directors? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as emergency management directors. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where emergency management directors earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio
We use two methods to compare salaries across states:
  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for emergency management directors compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for emergency management directors.
We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which emergency management directors earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this figure might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
Location-adjusted median salary for Emergency Management Directors (ACS)
6% of Emergency management directors are working part time.
We’ve found that some jobs have a huge number of part-time workers, and typically that is because they are unable to find full-time work or the job itself can’t provide full-time hours. With 6% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 71% of careers.
Employer types
This donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire for this career.
Employers of undefined (ACS)
Private for-profit
Private not-for-profit
Local government
State government
Federal government
Self-employed incorporated
Self-employed not incorporated
Working without pay
Fewer details
Distribution: Salaries of emergency management directors by type of employer
Here are the salary distributions based on employer type.
$67K$65K$68K$82K$59K$74K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Emergency management directors and gender
With 29% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 58% of careers.
Gender of Emergency management directors
Men (71%)
Women (29%)
Distribution: salaries by gender
Does gender greatly influence your salary in this career? The closer the bars are, the less discrepancy there is.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.
Fewer details
Context: Women in the workforce
How does this career compare to other careers with regard to the percentage of women in the career.
Context: Salary inequity
The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is better for emergency management directors, with the median salary for men only 4.5% higher than the median salary for women.
Race and origin of Emergency management directors
This donut shows the distribution of race and origin among those employed as Emergency management directors.
Race/origin of emergency management directors
White (81% )
Black (9% )
Multiracial (4% )
Asian (3% )
Other (2% )
American Indian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (1% )
Distribution: salaries by race/origin
Some careers might have a pay disparity based on race or origin, the closer the below bars are the less of a discrepancy is present.
We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.