Emergency Manager Jobs: What are Your Career Options?

Posted by Herzing Blog on Feb 10, 2020 10:41:06 AM

Chemical disaster response training drill at a factory

Emergency and disaster management is a vast field. There are many areas of specialization, many different roles, and a lot of different training options. 

Drawn to a career where you can help mitigate, respond to, and recover from crisis situations? Feel you have the organizational, communication, and leadership skills required to excel in this role? 

Your first step is to understand the range of emergency manager jobs available today. 

In this post, we look at several different job titles in the risk management, emergency response, and disaster recovery field.  

We break down the core responsibilities for each role, and provide helpful information on training and certification expectations within the industry.  

This is not an exhaustive list of emergency manager jobs, but it does provide a good sampling of opportunities in different parts of the private and public sector.  

Crucially, you will get a clearer idea of the competencies and credentials associated with the profession. Let’s get started. 


1. Emergency Management Director 

An Emergency Management Director oversees the planning, processes, and recovery procedures an organization uses to handle disaster situations.  

Scenarios can include everything from natural disasters and terrorist attacks, to chemical hazards, food contamination, disease outbreaks, fires and explosions. 

Emergency Management Director is a senior role, which usually requires a bachelor’s degree, and several years of related work experience. 

These professionals work for private, non-profit, and government organizations, and have the following core responsibilities: 

☑️ Analyze, identify, and assess potential hazards 

☑️ Develop strategies to mitigate risk and reduce the potential for disasters 

☑️ Create emergency preparedness strategies, deliver training programs 

☑️ Work with community organizations and law enforcement to predict possible emergency scenarios and plan responses 

☑️ Train organization employees in emergency response procedures 

☑️ Create disaster recovery and continuity plans, to minimize disruption following an emergency 

☑️ Manage and participate in projects, committees, and working groups 

☑️ Run simulations and evaluating exercises 


Good to know: This is a general job title that often breaks down into specialized roles, related to a specific work setting or sector. 

Many people pursue emergency manager jobs in areas where they already have professional experience—such as healthcare or law enforcement. 

Examples of specialized job titles: 

☑️ Industrial Emergency Manager 

☑️ Anti-terrorism Emergency Manager 

☑️ Emergency Public Health Manager 

☑️ Hospital Emergency Manager 


2. Emergency Preparedness Officer 

An Emergency Preparedness Officer would likely work under an Emergency Manager/Director. This is a support role, where you are not directly responsible for comprehensive emergency response and recovery strategies.  

However, the Emergency Preparedness Officer plays a key role in contributing to and implementing the strategy. This would be an ideal entry level role after completing your emergency manager training

Typical responsibilities include: 

☑️ Conduct research and best practice reviews 

☑️ Produce status reports 

☑️ Manage report copies, file systems, and maintain a database for security audits  

☑️ Assist with and monitor the completion of audits 

☑️ Identify gaps in emergency preparedness 

☑️ Update safety documentation and deliver training programs 


Good to know: Entry level positions as an Emergency Preparedness Officer do not always require a university degree. Some companies will accept a certificate in emergency management, or college-level emergency manager diploma


See an Example of an Online Emergency Management Certificate


3. Disaster Recovery Coordinator

This intermediate position answers to the Disaster Recovery Manager. The Recovery Coordinator helps develop and deploy “recovery and continuation” plans in the event of a major emergency. 

The goal is to minimize the fallout and restore normal operations as quickly as possible. Common responsibilities for this role include: 

☑️ Assist the DR Manager with the development and testing of disaster response strategies and contingency plans 

☑️ Help deliver contingency plan training 

☑️ Analyze risks and their potential impact on essential business operations and information systems 


Good to know: It’s important to note that in some cases, this job title crosses over into the data security field.  

Many DR Managers specialize in maintaining information systems and recovering data when there’s been a breach or power loss.  

Obviously, to qualify for this kind of position, you would need special credentials— such as a degree in computer science, business, or information technology. 

Related job title: Business Continuity Planner  


4. Campus Emergency Coordinator 

Most colleges and universities have an emergency management team that oversees the safety of students and staff, specifically during times of crisis. 

There are various employment options within the chain of command, from emergency duty officer to emergency manager.  

These professionals specialize in threats unique to school settings. They develop customized contingency plans for dealing with—and swiftly recovering from—those disaster scenarios. 

Typical responsibilities for a Campus Emergency Coordinator: 

☑️ Promote and maintain a safe and healthy environment for students, staff and campus visitors  

☑️ Identify and analyze most prominent risks to campus security 

☑️ Develop strategies to minimize likely risks 

☑️ Deliver training programs/drills for emergency response and evacuation procedures 

☑️ Create a communications plan for emergency situations 

☑️ Create plans to ensure rapid recovery and continuation of campus operations 

☑️ Ensure the functionality of the school’s mass notification system 

☑️ Coordinate emergency plans with first responders and campus security  

☑️ Create incident action plans for large campus events that pose additional security concerns  


Good to know: College and university campuses are considered uniquely risky environments. They are often large and sprawling, hard to navigate by vehicle, and too easily accessible by the public.  

Educational institutions hire emergency management specialist to deal with potential threats like: 

☑️ Natural disasters (earthquake, hurricane, flood) 

☑️ Lab accidents, explosions, fires 

☑️ Health emergencies, virus outbreaks 

☑️ Sexual assaults 

☑️ Power outages 

☑️ Broken water mains 

☑️ Online threats of violent attacks 

☑️ Mass shootings 


5. NGO Disaster Relief Coordinator 

NGO Disaster Relief Coordinators work for humanitarian organizations, such as Oxfam, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, FEMA, and the Salvation Army. 

These non-governmental organizations provide aid in crisis situations, including natural disasters, famine, and war. 

The goal is to help affected populations recover from emergencies by providing short-term solutions for safe shelter, food, water, medical treatment, essential supplies, etc. 

Typical role and responsibilities for an NGO Disaster Relief Coordinator are: 

☑️ Prepare for likely emergencies by developing and testing response plans 

☑️ When disaster strikes, coordinate logistics for carrying out response plans 

☑️ Evacuate affected areas and set up shelters 

☑️ Restore power and repair other critical infrastructure 

☑️ Deliver food, medicine, and other supplies 

☑️ Assist in rebuilding communities following a crisis (repairs, healthcare, social services, etc.) 

☑️ Work with communities to prevent future disasters by identifying weaknesses, providing education/training, and strengthening infrastructure 


Good to know: Dealing with humanitarian crises is very stressful. Facing loss of life and the consequences of human brutality demands a unique combination of strength and compassion.  

It’s meaningful and deeply rewarding work, but it’s not for everyone. 


6. emergency management Public Policy Advisor

This is a good example of a government emergency management job. Public policy advisors who specialize in emergency management work with all levels of government. They help develop effective disaster response and recovery protocols for cities, provinces, and entire countries.

For emergency management, the federal government of Canada relies on an organization called the Government Operations Centre (GOC). The GOC provides integrated responses to all kinds of hazards (natural and human-induced) at the national level.

This includes 24/7 monitoring, risk assessments, government response management, notification of events and situation reports.

An Emergency Management Public Policy Advisor has the following responsibilities:

☑️ Conduct research and analyze government emergency response strategies

☑️ Develop and present proposals for emergency management plans

☑️ Consult in the development of crisis response communications and procedures

☑️ Collaborate with federal response partners to assess risks and create strategies

☑️ Analyze after-action plans to identify areas for improvement and present ideas for continuous improvement


Good to know: Beyond policy advising, there are emergency manager jobs available at many levels of government. From infrastructure to energy, there are a variety of government agencies and offices that require emergency management specialists.

For example, every city has an office of emergency management, with both entry-level and senior roles. If you're interested (or already have a background) in public safety and want a career in government, this is an ideal path.


Valuable Emergency Management Certifications 

Educational requirements for emergency management jobs vary by employer, position, and rank. However, across the board, you will often see professional certifications listed as mandatory or “an asset” for many of these roles. 

There are two important certifications commonly associated with careers in emergency management. These are essential for anyone seeking employment or advancement in this field:

☑️ Associate Emergency Manager (AEM®) 

☑️ Certified Emergency Manager (CEM®) 


The AEM designation is entry-level. The CEM is for professionals who have a degree, and at least 3 years of emergency management job experience. Both designations are issued by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM)

See a quick breakdown of prerequisites for both certifications here: Becoming an Emergency Manager: What Training & Skills Do You Need?

Good to know: If you're at the beginning of your career, and looking at emergency manager courses and certificates, remember to choose a program that qualifies for AEM certification.

There are specific educational requirements you must fulfill in order to qualify for these designations. Ensure your training program meets those standards.

Take a look at the Emergency and Disaster Management Certificate delivered by Kompass Professional Development. This online course meets educational requirements for Associate Emergency Manager® certification. 

Click below to learn more about program length, the online format, tuition, courses, and admission requirements. Chat online or request free information by email. We're here to help!

*Ask about the limited-time $500 scholarship available for this certificate

Explore the Emergency & Disaster Management Certificate



Topics: emergency and disaster management, emergency manager training, emergency manager, Kompass Professional Development

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