Emergency Management Director

Woman emergency management director writes on emergency preparedness checklist notepad next to table with flashlight and other gear

What you need to know


Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters or other emergencies.

They also help lead the response during and after emergencies, often in coordination with public safety officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.

What does an emergency management director do?

Although most emergency management directors work in an office, they also typically travel to meet with various government agencies, community groups, and private companies.

During disasters and emergencies, directors often work in stressful situations.

Some of the things emergency management directors might do:

  • 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 general public to get recommendations regarding emergency response plans
  • Organize emergency response training programs and exercises for staff, volunteers, and other responders
  • Coordinate the sharing of resources and equipment within the community and across communities to assist in responding to an emergency
  • Prepare and analyze 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

Watch this video to learn about what our role models do in their emergency management roles:

What skills are needed?
  • Communication skills. Emergency management directors must write out and communicate their emergency preparedness plans to all levels of government, as well as to the public.
  • 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 make timely decisions, often in stressful situations. They must also identify the strengths and weaknesses of all solutions and approaches, as well as the costs and benefits of each action.
  • Interpersonal skills. Emergency management directors must work with other government agencies, law enforcement and fire officials, and the general 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.

Watch this video to learn more from our role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for emergency management directors in the United States was $83,960 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An emergency management directors’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 900 new job openings for emergency management directors are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of emergency management directors is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slower than the average growth rate for all occupations.

The importance of preparing for and minimizing the risks from emergencies will help sustain demand and employment opportunities for emergency management directors.

These workers will be needed to help businesses and organizations continue to provide essential services during and after emergencies.

What education is required to become an emergency management director?

Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or public administration, accounting, finance, emergency management, or public health.

Some directors working in the private sector in the area of business continuity management may need to have a degree in computer science, information systems administration, or another information technology (IT) field.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Public Administration, Accounting, Finance, Emergency Management, or Public Health.

Watch this video to learn more from our role models: