5 Emergency Management Careers

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An emergency management professional leading a business meeting in a conference room.

After hurricanes, earthquakes, terror attacks and other disastrous events, people are left surprised and often devastated as they try to recover. Post-disaster situations are unstable and require help from compassionate professionals who can design and implement a plan that helps others. Those who pursue emergency management careers have the weighty responsibility of assisting people during and after disasters when things are often at their worst.

Emergency management is a wide field that offers many career opportunities. Most of these revolve around the responsibilities of identifying, planning, analyzing and improving safety protocols during extreme situations. Those who seek a profession in this field would do well to obtain a meaningful and relevant education, such as a Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management (MSSSEM) degree.

Careers in Emergency Management

Times of crisis come in many forms. As a consequence, there must be a variety of distinct roles, each prioritizing different skills and goals, to respond to any disaster that might occur. Whether caused by mother nature, a failure of infrastructure or malicious human intent, there are people trained to respond quickly and enact a plan to solve the problem. Some of these careers in emergency management include the emergency management specialist, the manufacturing project manager, anti-terrorism specialist, disaster program manager and emergency management director.

1. Emergency Management Specialist

A career named after its field, emergency management specialists are responsible for overseeing all disaster possibilities. They coordinate disaster response as well as manage crisis activities when needed. They provide preparedness training and education to maintain procedure awareness among staff. They also create emergency plans for every type of crisis, from natural and technological disasters, to wartime and hostage situations. The position works in a team environment and must be able to communicate effectively among many different parties.

Specialists are mostly hired by local and state governments as well as by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is the specialist’s job to be present and available during emergency situations, therefore they are needed at every level of government, in numerous geographical locations.

2. Manufacturing Project Manager

Employed mostly by construction equipment companies, laboratories and government facilities, manufacturing project managers maintain safety and ensure the effective performance of aligned staff. A career in emergency management involves working both independently and with a team as needed, to preserve efficiency and improve the systems used by manufacturers.

Project managers oversee multiple systems, from those that involve the initial customer order to final customer sign-off. They need to be aware of schedules, ensure prompt production and on-time delivery. They must clearly communicate with other workers regarding problems and safety issues. Most importantly, they must identify risks and quickly mitigate them to avoid any preventable accidents.

3. Anti-Terrorism Specialist

Some emergency management careers include the preparation and prevention of manmade disasters. Anti-terrorism specialists are specifically responsible for helping protect lives and focus heavily on disaster mitigation techniques. Their job duties include risk management, planning, training and resource application. They also interpret government regulations and advise government management on the safest course of action.

Anti-terrorism specialists in particular work mostly in security and private intelligence companies hired by, and partnered with, government entities. They must know how to prepare briefings and presentations to appropriately advise the government. In short, these specialists discover approaches and propose solutions to prohibit terrorist acts. They must be dedicated and vigilant against any possible terrorist threat.

4. Disaster Program Manager

Specific to the Red Cross, disaster program managers are part of a team that organizes and facilitates all pertinent disaster operations and services. Managers lead and manage teams composed of volunteers who follow response and recovery programs laid out by the Red Cross. They must also manage government partnerships during disaster relief.

Help may be abundant and offered by many entities, but it has to be organized and programs must work together. Assistance doesn’t end until the crisis is managed and the suffering largely relieved, so disaster managers must be able to work around the clock, responding to stressful conditions and high demand for their attention.

5. Emergency Management Director<

Responsible for the creation and organization of emergency procedures, the emergency management director emphasizes response efforts during and after a crisis event. They coordinate with any related authorities to minimize harm to people and property. Emergency management directors strive to improve the processes intended to provide safety and mitigate damage. They do this by reviewing the emergency plans of businesses and agencies to ensure they are sufficient.

Emergency Management Salary

An emergency management career can mean earning a highly competitive salary. However, emergency management salaries may be influenced by many factors, including the cost of living in a given area as well as a candidate’s years of expertise and level of education.

Emergency Management Specialist Salary

According to the compensation website PayScale, the median annual salary for an emergency management specialist is around $64,500 as of December 2021. The job appeals to individuals who desire to work in government and are prepared to handle a wide array of situations.

Manufacturing Project Manager Salary

With a median annual salary of around $75,090 according to PayScale’s December 2021 data, manufacturing project managers need to be high energy and enthusiastic. The job can require 24/7 leadership as well as the ability to thrive under pressure.

Anti-Terrorism Specialist Salary

According to December 2021 PayScale data, an anti-terrorism specialist should expect a median salary of around $79,000. Most of the time they have heavy work hours, and similar to intelligence analysts they largely work within dedicated government agencies.

Disaster Program Manager Salary

According to November 2021 PayScale data, disaster program managers can expect an annual median salary of around $47,900 as they primarily focus on assisting their communities in the face of disaster.

Emergency Management Director Salary

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median annual emergency management salary of $76,250 for emergency management directors with some variability depending on their chosen professional sector. In the case of an emergency, they need to be immediately available, which is why they’re often on-call at all times.

Pursue an Education for an Emergency Management Career

A career in emergency management requires more than knowledge and problem solving. It demands people who are passionate about helping others. Professionals in this field are respected, confided in when the unexpected occurs and help others prepare for and mitigate disasters.

Earning an online Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management degree from Eastern Kentucky University can help increase your knowledge of the safety industry and demonstrate a continued commitment to learning and leadership. This is seen most clearly in the curriculum itself, where you’ll find many essential courses such as Emergency Preparation and Response, Issues in Security Management and Safety, Security, and Emergency Management Administration.

Whether you aspire to work at the governmental level or in the private sector, EKU’s distinguished faculty of safety professionals deliver a comprehensive curriculum that can translate to whichever emergency management career best suits you. Learn more today.


Recommended Readings

How to Conduct a Job Hazard Analysis

Keeping Workers Safe During an Epidemic or Pandemic

What is Disaster Recovery? Definition, Solutions and Careers




American Red Cross, Disaster Training

Betterteam, Emergency Management Specialist

FBIJOBS.GOV, Intelligence Analysts

O* Net Online, Intelligence Analysts

PayScale, Average U.S. Department of Homeland Security Salary

PayScale, Average Disaster Program Manager Salary

PayScale, Average Emergency Management Specialist Salary

PayScale, Manufacturing Project Manager Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emergency Management Director