What Does an Emergency Management Director Do?

Updated June 24, 2022

Being able to respond quickly and appropriately during an emergency is an important part of running any organization. Some businesses and institutions hire emergency management directors to design emergency response plans and oversee their implementation. If you're interested in preparing for emergency events as part of your job, explore the career path of an emergency management director to see if it could be right for you. In this article, we review what it's like to be an emergency management director and explore the qualifications you need to start your career.

What is an emergency management director?

An emergency management director is someone who professionally plans for disasters, accidents and other emergency scenarios. Emergency management directors collaborate with an organization's leadership team to assess potential risks and develop best practices for addressing them. They're responsible for designing procedures that explain what to do in an emergency and creating preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of emergency situations occurring. Emergency management directors serve an important role in keeping everyone involved with an organization safe and empowering employees to respond appropriately during an emergency.

Related: 12 Careers To Consider In Emergency Management

What does an emergency management director do?

Emergency management directors have several core duties they need to accomplish when developing emergency response plans. As an emergency management director, your assignments can vary depending on where you work. There are several areas of responsibility that you should prepare for when applying for jobs as an emergency management director:

Hazard assessment

For effective emergency planning, emergency management directors perform hazard assessment tasks that help them understand what kinds of emergency situations to expect at their workplace. These duties include:

  • Researching natural disasters in the area

  • Calculating the likelihood of various emergency situations

  • Analyzing hazard prevention techniques

  • Reviewing other emergency response policies and their outcomes

  • Surveying a workplace to identify potential risks

Policy development

Emergency management directors guide an organization's policies for how they respond to and prepare for emergency events. They determine practical methods for protecting a business and its employees from any kind of damage or disruption, then establish those methods as best practices in the workplace. Developing emergency management policies includes these tasks:

  • Creating evacuation maps

  • Writing status

  • Developing lists of supplies

  • Preparing emergency response budgets

  • Listing instructions for common emergency scenarios

  • Compiling emergency contact lists

Employee training

Another core role for emergency management directors is showing others how to respond in an emergency situation. Emergency management directors train their own team members and people in other departments to ensure consistent behaviors if an emergency occurs. When educating others about how to use emergency planning procedures, you may be in charge of:

  • Scheduling professional development sessions

  • Demonstrating how to use safety equipment

  • Writing training manuals

  • Presenting policy updates

  • Planning emergency response drills and evaluating the outcome

Facility maintenance

As an emergency management director, you organize, maintain and stock the workplace with supplies to prepare for emergencies and limit the impact of a disaster. Facility maintenance tasks for emergency management directors include:

  • Installing weatherproofing

  • Preparing first aid kits

  • Completing risk and safety inspections

  • Updating building features

  • Repairing equipment and replacing emergency supplies

Emergency response leadership

If an emergency occurs, emergency management directors provide on-site leadership to supervise emergency response and relief efforts. They solve problems and decide what to do when any unanticipated emergencies happen. Duties can include:

  • Communicating with first responders

  • Meeting with public officials

  • Assigning volunteers to aid projects

  • Distributing resources

  • Analyzing the success of emergency planning measures after an incident

  • Applying for emergency funding or federal support

Emergency management director work environment

Because accidents and emergencies can happen anywhere, emergency management directors can work at many types of institutions. Private businesses hire emergency management directors to protect their assets and the safety of all employees and customers. Emergency management directors can also work at disaster relief organizations, hospitals and government institutions to provide support to large populations. Residential facilities like colleges may also rely on emergency management directors to keep residents safe.

Emergency management directors typically work in an office environment researching and writing policies, but they also perform work in the field providing immediate support during an emergency. They generally work full time and can have a flexible schedule depending on where they work and what kinds of emergencies they handle. Working in emergency management can involve some travel for meetings, seminars and presentations.

Related: How To Become a Safety Director

Education for emergency management directors

If you're interested in becoming an emergency management director, you should start by earning a bachelor's degree related to public safety. Some colleges offer emergency management majors, which provide specialized instruction about how to respond to emergencies on an institutional level. Other majors to consider if you want to start a career in emergency management include:

  • Public administration

  • Government

  • Public health

  • Business

  • Risk management

  • Environmental science

Because emergency management directors typically lead emergency response teams or departments, you may also need additional training and experience to get hired. You can earn on-the-job training through other emergency management roles like:

  • Safety analyst

  • Emergency management specialist

  • Disaster recovery specialist

  • Emergency preparedness officer

Related: 25 Environmental Health and Safety Jobs

Emergency management director skills

Emergency management directors have advanced skills in several areas to support their work responsibilities. They need to understand the technical details of quickly reacting to an emergency and have critical thinking and interpersonal skills to collaborate with others effectively. Some of the top skills you need as an emergency management director include:


Emergency management directors need to be powerful leaders that make confident decisions and help others work together in challenging situations. To become a successful emergency management director, you should practice leadership techniques to ensure that you can provide guidance and reassurance to others during a crisis.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Information technology

Having IT skills is important for emergency management directors because they often use software and computer systems to communicate during an emergency, model possible emergency scenarios and track information about potential risks. As an emergency management director, you should research common IT tools in your industry and learn how to use each interface.


As an emergency management director, you have to communicate with company leaders, local officials, employees, volunteers and members of the public. When preparing for an emergency, you use communication skills to explain policies and procedures accurately. During an emergency, communication skills help you provide fast, effective relief and prevent additional damage.


Emergency management directors often work with challenging topics, which requires advanced tact. Using tactful language helps you address the realistic impact of various emergency and disaster situations while supporting your team and encouraging them to work through any challenges. You use tact when providing updates about a disaster, choosing the best phrasing for training manuals and supporting your team during a crisis.

Salary and job outlook for emergency management directors

Emergency management directors earn an average of $76,250 each year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Your earnings as an emergency management director can vary depending on your experience level and industry. BLS projections show that job openings for emergency management directors should increase by 4% through 2029, which is close to the average growth for all fields.


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