How to Become an Emergency Management Director:
The Definitive Guide


Are you the calm person in an emergency?

Do you enjoy helping people and making sure everyone is safe whenever something happens?

If this sounds like you, you may enjoy a career as an Emergency Management Director.

These special people prepare emergency plans and assist others when an emergency occurs.

Emergency Management Directors are brave and ready to tackle anything.


What is an Emergency Management Director?

An Emergency Management Director is responsible for creating plans in case disaster strikes.

They are also responsible for contacting the people in charge of events, whether that’s political leaders, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies.

The most important role for an Emergency Management Director is to ensure that the plan is put in place and executed to perfection.

Emergency Management Directors will respond efficiently to any issue that may arise, whether it’s a natural disaster, terrorist attack, bombing, etc.

The Emergency Management Director is in charge of creating the plan and executing it.

Duties

It is important to have an eye for detail as an Emergency Management Director because you will need to evaluate areas and come up with escape plans for people in case of emergencies.

Some of the things you can expect to do as an Emergency Management Director on a daily basis include:

  • Develop plans and procedures for emergencies
  • Analyze resources
  • Provide staff information so they can implement a procedure
  • Revise plan and gather resources
  • Coordinate with police officers and firefighters
  • Maintain command center in case of emergencies
  • Monitor and manage emergency operations

Salary

On average in the United States, an Emergency Management Director can make around $142,000 a year.

If you are someone that is just starting out in the career, it is more likely that you will make around $124,000 a year to begin.

When you have more experience within the field and have worked as an Emergency Management Director for some years, it is possible to make up to $160,000 a year.

Some of the things that might factor into the variation in salary are education, certifications, specializations and even the location of where you work.

The number of years that an Emergency Management Director has worked can also factor into salary.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $82,530

$40K
$54K
$82K
$103K
$141K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$76,750
Alaska$94,160
Arizona- NA -
Arkansas$46,680
California$117,900
Colorado$86,320
Connecticut$93,110
District of Columbia$120,680
Florida$82,530
Georgia$71,410
Hawaii$89,260
Idaho$92,400
Illinois$72,830
Indiana$53,800
Iowa$65,210
Kansas$55,110
Kentucky$49,740
Louisiana$79,030
Maine$58,650
Maryland$106,310
Massachusetts$92,430
Michigan$71,450
Minnesota$85,390
Mississippi$52,170
Missouri$61,650
Montana$59,900
Nebraska$61,520
Nevada$87,500
New Hampshire$72,660
New Jersey$91,820
New Mexico$93,440
New York$100,290
North Carolina$71,950
North Dakota$68,400
Ohio$79,570
Oklahoma$54,680
Oregon$81,470
Pennsylvania$70,830
Rhode Island$85,360
South Carolina$66,970
South Dakota$53,940
Tennessee$81,720
Texas$92,350
Utah$63,650
Vermont$75,390
Virginia$92,490
Washington$113,220
West Virginia$68,970
Wisconsin$75,170
Wyoming$59,240
Puerto Rico$37,140

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $120,680.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $120,680
California - $117,900
Washington - $113,220
Maryland - $106,310
New York - $100,290
*Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become an Emergency Management Director

Step 1Have a High School Diploma or GED

No matter what type of field you plan on going into, if you want a college degree you will need to have a High School Diploma or a GED.

Some of the subjects that are important when thinking about a career as an Emergency Management Director include:

  • Mathematics
  • Social science
  • Psychology
  • Life science

Most colleges will not accept those that have a GPA of 2.0 into their programs.

This is something to think about before you start applying for schools.

Before entering a college program to become an Emergency Management Director, you’ll want to make sure you have skills like:

  • Communication – Emergency Management Directors must write, read, and speak well so that others can hear them.
  • Critical thinking – Emergency Management Directors need to have multiple plans of action in case of issues with their previous plan.
  • Leadership – Organization and leading groups of people is a large part of this career.

Step 2Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Now that you have applied to the school that you want, it’s time to earn your degree.

If you want to become an Emergency Management Director, you’ll need a Bachelors’s degree in business, public administration, accounting, finance, public health or emergency management.

Sometimes it’s even required to have a degree in computer science, information systems administration, or some other tech degree.

Some of the things that you can expect to learn in a typical public administration or emergency management are:

  • Organizational governance
  • Finance
  • Administration
  • Loss prevention
  • Management
  • International Business

Emergency Management Directors can work practically anywhere, so there may be a variety of subjects you learn based on your location and standards.

Step 3Get Work Experience

After you have obtained a Bachelors’s degree, it’s time to put in the hours at work.

It probably won’t come easy at first, because these jobs can be hard to find.

Most times, in order to become an Emergency Management Director, you’ll need to have several years of job experience.

There are some different ways to achieve this:

  • Military
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire safety
  • Other Emergency Management field

Previous work experience in these areas shows employers that you have the skills and knowledge to keep people safe in case of an emergency.

Obtaining employment can be difficult for this career, however, it is a very serious job and should not be taken lightly.

This means that most, if not all, Emergency Management Directors should have experience in law enforcement or another emergency response team career.

Step 4Become Certified

After you gain experience, it’s possible that you’ll need to become licensed.

Some states require this, and some states opt-out.

Many states and agencies offer voluntary certifications to show additional skills.

Some employers may even prefer that their employees become Certified Emergency Managers or Certified Business Continuity Professionals.

Those that are interested in the Certified Emergency Manager certification can find this certificate through the International Association of Emergency Managers.

Others that are interested in the Certified Business Continuity Professional certification can find more information through the Disaster Recovery Institute International.

In order to obtain either of these certifications, you’ll need several years of experience.


Education

In order to become an Emergency Management Director, a Bachelors’s degree is required.

Some people opt to start their college degrees at community colleges and then go on to larger universities after obtaining their Associate’s degree.

Others start off at a four-year college in hopes of gaining their Bachelor’s all in one step.

Either way is great, but if you want a Bachelors degree to become an Emergency Management Director, you’ll want to study:

  • Business
  • Public Administration
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Health
  • Fire Science
  • Homeland Security

Emergency Management Directors that work with private companies may need a degree in:

  • Information Systems Administration
  • Computer Science
  • IT

Most of the courses that a person who wants to become an Emergency Management Director will take are the same across the majors, however, there may be some differences.

The main classes include:

  • Communication
  • Business Ethics
  • Financial Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Management Theory and Practice
  • Finance for Business
  • Global Business Strategies

A more specific degree in Emergency Management can include courses like:

  • Policing in Society
  • Civil Rights and Liberties
  • Urban Politics
  • Crime and Technology
  • Criminal Law

Usually, when first starting out in college, students like to begin their core classes that aren’t as specific to their major.

As they gain more experience in college, the classes become more specialized.

The typical Bachelor’s degree can take around four years to complete.

There are many important factors when it comes to deciding which major to begin when pursuing a career as an Emergency Management Director.

Keep in mind the basis of the career is to prevent emergencies and keep people safe.

The curriculum of the degree you plan to achieve will likely cover sensitive topics, and will be based on the understanding of current trends and public safety as it relates to management.

With a Bachelors’s degree in public safety or another similar field, the focus is on leadership, public policy, politics, and administration.

Video About The Career


Certification

Now that you have your shiny new Bachelors’s degree, let’s talk about becoming certified.

You’ll need to have a little bit of experience, typically 3-5 years, before being eligible to become a Certified Emergency Management Director.

Although some states do require that their Emergency Management Directors become certified, it’s not necessary everywhere, so make sure you check where you work.

There are a couple of different types of certifications that an Emergency Management Director can earn.

The first is the Certified Emergency Management Director.

This certification is given through the International Associations of Emergency Managers.

In order to be eligible for this certification, several things are required:

  • Three years of comprehensive emergency management experience
  • Bachelors degree in Emergency Management or equivalent
  • List of 6 professional contributions made in the last year
  • One signed letter of reference and three other references
  • A score of 75% out of 100 on the certification exam
  • Essay
  • 100 hours of general management training

The certification fee is $400 and must be renewed every five years

The other is called the Certified Business Continuity Professional.

This certification is given by the Disaster Recovery Institute International.

In order to be eligible for the Certified Business Continuity Professional certification, hopefuls must:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and working experience
  • Have at least two years of experience as an Emergency Management Director
  • Demonstrate specific practices in five different subject matters

You’ll also need to pass the exam with a 75% out of 100.

There are typically several essay questions on this exam, and these subjects areas include:

  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Developing Business Continuity Strategies
  • Developing and Implementing Plans
  • Maintaining Plans

The exam costs $400 to take and must be renewed every year.

For both exams, the references must be at least two people who can document the experience of the applicant in the subject area.

Certification Example:

Emergency Management Director Certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

The average training program to become an Emergency Management Director is around eight years.

This time includes the four years that it takes to earn a Bachelors’s degree.

It also includes the time that it takes to gain certifications and experience in the field.

Many employers will not hire people that don’t have the experience, so this is extremely important.

Popular Degree Programs


Job Outlook

Although the job of an Emergency Management Director is not expected to grow very much in the next ten years, only 5 percent, it is still an important job.

The importance of preparing for disasters and having a plan will allow this career to continue to grow.

The risk of emergencies in situations like rallies, political conferences, and other types of community gatherings will sustain this career as well.

One of the downsides to this job is that competition for the career will be strong.

There aren’t many job opportunities for this type of career, but the ones that are available are very lucrative.

Employment Growth Projection: 5%

9,900
2018
10,400
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of 500 jobs.

EM Director: Interest Over Time


Should You Become an Emergency Management Director?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

For those people who like to protect others and help out in scary situations, the job of an Emergency Management Director is the perfect fit.

This is also a great job for people who enjoy working outdoors and don’t mind being around different people all of the time.

The level of stress that this job offers can affect overall satisfaction.

Also, typically Emergency Management Directors work more than 40 hours a week.

Many Emergency Management Directors say that their job is meaningful, which also makes it satisfactory.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

The average salary for an Emergency Management Director is around $140,000 a year in the United States.

Those that have more experience as an Emergency Management Director, including education, specializations and certifications can expect to make around $160,000 a year.

Emergency Management Directors that are just starting out in the career can expect to make a little less, at around $124,000 a year to start.

The location and company that an Emergency Management Director works for can have an effect on salary as well.

Job Growth Outlook: Low

Job Growth Outlook

There has always been an importance to eliminating risk, but even more so now and in the future.

That is why the job growth for an Emergency Management Director is expected to grow around 5 percent in the next ten years.

That is slower than some other occupations, but still rising, which is good.

The job of an Emergency Management Director may be hard to find, but one that will provide an incredible career.

Retirements over the next decade may provide more career opportunities for incoming Emergency Management Directors.

Education Duration: 4+ Years

Education Duration

The average person spends about four years earning a Bachelors’s degree.

Then, once a degree is obtained, a hopeful Emergency Management Director will need several years of experience in the field.

The amount of time that it takes to begin a career as an Emergency Management Director also depends on the type of experience one has.

Some people go into the military, some join law enforcement.

It can take a while to become an Emergency Management Director, but it is worth it.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

It is important that an Emergency Management Director is someone who can stay calm in chaos, and able to assist others to safety in emergency situations.

Some of the skills that a hopeful Emergency Management Director should possess include:

  • Exceptional critical thinking skills
  • Amazing attention to detail
  • Communication and cooperation skills
  • Time management skills
  • Organization skills
  • Ability to delegate and supervise

If you are the person that people run to when times get scary, then you may want to start a career as an Emergency Management Director.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does an Emergency Management Director make?

On average in the United States, an Emergency Management Director can make around $140,000 a year.

Those that are just starting out working as Emergency Management Directors can expect to make less than that at around $124,000 a year.

When an Emergency Management Director has many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge and certifications, they can expect to make around $160,000 a year.

Q. What does an Emergency Management Director do?

The Emergency Management Director is the one in charge of keeping everyone safe at events and gatherings.

They are also responsible for making plans to keep everyone safe is disaster strikes.

Some of the things that an Emergency Management Director might do on a daily basis can include:

  • Speaking to law enforcement
  • Creating escape plans
  • Organizing
  • Speaking with employees
  • Running drills

Q. How long does it take to become an Emergency Management Director?

It can take around four years to earn a degree to become an Emergency Management Director.

However, it also takes a couple of years of experience in a related field to get hired in most cases.

The fields that a person can gain experience in are areas like:

  • Fire departments
  • Homeland Security
  • Police offices

The formal education only takes four years, but the knowledge one must obtain in this career will last a lifetime.

Q. Is there a demand for Emergency Management Directors?

The short answer is yes and no.

Yes, there will always be a demand for Emergency Management Directors because they are the ones who will keep others safe in case a disaster happens.

However, the career is difficult to get into and there aren’t many jobs available as of right now.

This means that although the job is in demand, it’s hard to find the right employment.

Q. How much does it cost to become an Emergency Management Director?

It can be scary to think about how much it may cost to begin a career that you’ll probably love, so looking into the cost to become an Emergency Management Director is a smart idea.

Since it requires a Bachelors’s degree to work as an Emergency Management Director, it can cost around $35,000-$55,000 to earn a degree.

Then you have to think about certification.

It can cost $400 to take a certification exam, and if you fail you must take it again.

Plus, every couple of years you will have to renew that certification for $250.


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