Emergency Management Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
What are the pros and cons of an emergency management career? Get real job descriptions, job outlooks and salary information to see if a career in emergency management is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career in Emergency Management

Typically, emergency management professionals handle disaster response and manage emergency responders such as police officers and hospital workers. Three common career choices in this field are emergency management director, clinical manager and police chief. Here's a quick glance at each of these professions:

Emergency Management Director Clinical Manager Police Chief
Career Overview Emergency management directors design, implement and administrate emergency management programs. Clinical managers in the field of emergency management oversee departments of health care facilities devoted to emergency care. Police chiefs oversee police departments in towns, cities and sometimes at the county level.
Education Requirements Usually a bachelor's degree, although there are exceptions Usually a bachelor's, but sometimes a master's degree At least a high school diploma or a GED, but often an associate's or bachelor's degree
Program Length 3-4 years for a bachelor's degree 3-4 years for a bachelor's, 1-2 more for a master's 1-2 years for an associate's, 3-4 years for a bachelor's degree
Certification and Licensing Rarely if ever required Licensure is sometimes required Licensure is usually required
Work Experience 1-5 years Varies quite a bit At least 10 years
Job Outlook (2014-2024) Fast as average growth (6%) compared to all occupations* Above average growth (17%) compared to all occupations * Below average growth (4%) compared to all occupations*
Median Salary (May 2014) Roughly $64,360* Roughly $92,810* Roughly $56,810*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Emergency Management Director

As an emergency management director, you'll typically be in charge of managing the responses to various types of crises. This includes, but certainly isn't limited to, floods, fires, earthquakes, nuclear power emergencies, oil spills, hurricanes and even situations where there are hostages. You'll coordinate disaster relief with local officials, keep up on local regulations and plan out disaster responses in advance. While planning and executing disaster response is part of job, disaster prevention is another.

Requirements

The number of years of experience that you'll need to become an emergency management director differs depending on the position. Typically, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in emergency management, public administration or a similar field, although a graduate degree may also be necessary. Extensive on-the-job training is also commonplace.

Here are three job listings posted online in November, 2012:

  • In Wisconsin, a county position coordinating and running emergency programs required a bachelor's degree and at least five years of administrative experience. Applicants were also required to have a valid driver's license.
  • A New Orleans, LA, petroleum operations company was seeking an emergency management director to make sure the company was compliant with various military and environmental laws and procedures. A bachelor's degree and five years of experience were required.
  • Another oil company in Oklahoma was hiring an emergency and crisis management director with a bachelor's degree and at least 10 years of related experience.

Standing Out

In order to stand out as an emergency management director, there are a number of measures that you can take. If you have three years of experience in the field and pass a required test, you can become a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) through the International Association of Emergency Managers. By becoming a CEM, you'll give your resume a boost and demonstrate to potential employers that in addition to your education and work experience, you have a solid understanding of administrative knowledge and skills as an emergency management professional.

Clinical Manager

Clinical managers are typically in charge of specific departments of medical facilities and clinics. If you're interested in emergency management, you might seek to become an administrator in an emergency care department and location. Often, you'll be in charge of emergency staff, planning, budgets, day-day operations and department goals.

Requirements

Clinical management positions usually require an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing or a related discipline, although a master's degree may prove to be helpful. Several years of medical and/or administrative experience is a common requirement. In addition to this, you may need to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and have current CPR certification.

In November, 2012, employers posted the following three jobs on the Internet:

  • In Houston, TX, the emergency room of a hospital was seeking a clinical manager with at least five years of experience. Candidates were expected to either have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or be close to finishing a degree plan.
  • An emergency services clinical manager with two years of experience and a BSN was sought by a medical center in Vermont.
  • A bachelor's degree in nursing or a combination of experience and education were required for a part-time evening medical center job in Sacramento, California.

Standing Out

Demonstrable leadership skills and an understanding of human resource administration can help you stand out as a clinical manager. Since emergency management will be the focus of your career, completing the Professional Development Series offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can also be useful. This is a series of independent study courses designed to sharpen your skills as a professional in the field of emergency management. By completing the Professional Development Series, it's likely you'll stand from other clinical managers who don't have the same level of expertise.

Police Chief

Police chiefs are typically in charge of the daily operations of local police departments. This, like firefighting or emergency room management, is a specific area of emergency management, in this case pertaining to law enforcement. As a police chief, you'll be in charge of a staff of officers at the town, city or county level.

Requirements

In order to enter the police force, you'll usually only need a high school diploma or a GED. However, to become a chief, you may need a degree in criminal justice, public administration or a related field. Sometimes, a higher-level degree is needed to enter a police department from the outside. The number of years of experience that you'll need depends on the employer, but is usually at least 10 years. In most cases, you'll also need to have your Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification from the state in which you intend to work. This is usually achieved at a police academy.

In November or 2012, potential employers listed the following three positions online:

  • In Texas, a rural area transforming into to a suburban community was looking for a police chief with a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree was preferred.
  • A Washington-state police department was looking for a police chief to work with 13 civilians, 45 police officers, two captains, two lieutenants and seven sergeants. A bachelor's degree was required.
  • A police chief with a bachelor's or master's degree and 15 years of experience in law enforcement was sought in Georgia.

Standing Out

The skills that it takes to stand out as a police chief are often demonstrated through on-the-job training, and promotions to this position often happen within a police department. However, police departments also hire outside the department, and you'll need to find ways to stand out in the job market. In addition to earning your POST certification, consider gaining advanced management training from an institute such as the Bill Blackwood Institute or the FBI National Academy.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
      • BSCJ: Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Homeland Security
      • MS in Criminal Justice Federal Law Enforcement
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
      • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
      • B.A. - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
      • PhD in Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Lewis University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MS in Public Safety Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Baker College Online

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
  • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • B.A. - Homeland Security
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Bachelor - Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

What is your highest level of education?