Emergency Management Director

Job Description:

Emergency management directors plan strategies for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.

Job Category:
Aerospace & Defence

What you will do:

Your day-to-day responsibilities might require you to:

  • consult with officials of local and area governments, schools, hospitals, and other institutions
  • develop and maintain liaisons with municipalities, county departments, and similar entities to facilitate plan development, response effort coordination, and exchanges of personnel and equipment.
  • apply for government funding for emergency-management-related needs and administer and report on the progress of such grants.
  • stay informed of activities or changes that could affect the likelihood of an emergency, as well as those that could affect response efforts and details of plan implementation.
  • develop and perform tests and evaluations of emergency management plans in accordance with government regulations.
  • inspect facilities and equipment, such as emergency management centers and communications equipment, to determine their operational and functional capabilities in emergency situations.
  • stay informed of local regulations affecting emergency plans and ensure that plans adhere to these regulations.
  • conduct surveys to determine the types of emergency-related needs to be addressed in disaster planning or provide technical support to others conducting such surveys.
  • develop instructional materials for the public and make presentations to citizens’ groups to provide information on emergency plans and their implementation processes.


You’ll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • active listening skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • persistence and determination
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an Emergency Management Director typically requires a combination of education, experience, and specialised training rather than specific  subjects. However, having a strong educational background in certain subjects and skills can be beneficial for this career. Here are some considerations:

  1. Mathematics (Maths): While not directly related to emergency management, basic math skills are essential for budgeting, resource allocation, and statistical analysis, which are part of the director’s responsibilities.
  2. English: Strong communication skills, including reading and writing, are crucial for effectively conveying information to the public, collaborating with other agencies, and writing reports and emergency plans.
  3. Geography: Geography coursework can provide an understanding of geographical features, climate patterns, and natural disasters, which is valuable for emergency planning and response.
  4. Science: Courses in the sciences, particularly earth and environmental sciences, can provide insights into natural disasters and their causes.
  5. Government and Politics: Knowledge of government structures, policies, and regulations is important, as emergency management often involves coordination with local, state, and federal government agencies.
  6. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Proficiency in using computers and digital tools can be beneficial for managing data, communicating during emergencies, and using specialized emergency management software.

Post School

A relevant degree is usually required for emergency management roles. Relevant subjects include:

  • business continuity and security management
  • disaster management
  • environmental hazards and disaster management
  • international security and disaster management.

If you don’t have a relevant first degree, you’ll need to obtain a related postgraduate qualification. Masters courses are available in similar subjects to those listed above. Search for postgraduate courses in disaster management.

Entry without a degree will usually only be considered if you have extensive relevant pre-entry experience or a related professional qualification.

There are a number of specialised courses for professionals working in the voluntary, health, public and other sectors. While these do not necessarily qualify you to move into emergency planning roles, they do support a move into work relating to emergency planning and continued professional development (CPD).

Working Hours and Environment:

Your typical working hours could be variable.

Most emergency management directors work for local or state governments. Others work for organisations such as hospitals, colleges and universities, or private companies.

Most emergency management directors work full time. In addition, most are on call at all times and may need to work overtime to respond to emergencies and to support emergency management operations. Others may work evenings and weekends to meet with various community groups in preparing their emergency response plans

Career Path & Progression:

Although you’ll generally develop your career in either emergency planning and management or business continuity management, there is scope to move into another area after gaining experience.

With a relevant qualification, it’s possible to move into:

  • relief and development work
  • risk assessment and health and safety consultancy
  • international relief and development work.

One of the more established professional career pathways exists within the local authorities across the country, where you may progress from an assistant emergency planning officer to emergency planning officer, and then into a senior management role.

In these roles, you may specialise in a specific area, such as human or animal health and severe weather planning. Senior officers in local authorities tend to take on more staff management and development responsibilities, moving away from the direct planning and response aspects of the job.

Other career options include making a move from the public to the private sector, or moving into an emergency planning role overseas – supporting the work of government organisations in other parts of the world.