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Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters and 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.Duties
Emergency management directors typically do the following:
Emergency management directors are responsible for planning and leading the responses to natural disasters and other emergencies. Directors work with government agencies, nonprofits, private companies, and the general public to develop effective plans that minimize damage and disruptions during an emergency.
To develop emergency response plans, directors typically research “best practices” from around the country and from other emergency management agencies. Directors also must prepare plans and procedures that meet local, state, and federal regulations.
Directors must analyze the resources, equipment, and staff available to respond to emergencies. If resources or equipment are lacking, directors must either revise their plans or obtain the needed resources from another community or state. Many directors coordinate with fire, emergency medical service, police departments, and public works agencies in other communities to locate and share equipment during an emergency. Directors must be in contact with other agencies to collect and share information regarding the scope of the emergency, the potential costs, and the resources or staff needed.
After plans are developed, emergency management directors typically ensure that individuals and groups become familiar with the emergency procedures. Directors often use social media to disseminate plans and warnings to the general public.
Emergency management directors run training courses and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers, and local agencies to ensure an effective and coordinated response to an emergency. Directors also may visit schools, hospitals, or other community groups to update everyone on the emergency plans.
During an emergency, directors typically maintain a command center at which personnel monitor and manage the emergency operations. Directors help lead the response, making adjustments to or prioritizing certain actions if necessary. These actions may include ordering evacuations, conducting rescue missions, or opening up public shelters for those displaced by the disaster. Emergency management directors also may need to conduct press conferences or other outreach activities to keep the public informed about the emergency.
Following an emergency, directors must assess the damage to their community and must coordinate getting assistance and supplies into the community if necessary. Directors may need to request state or federal assistance to help execute their emergency response plan and provide support to effected citizens, organizations, and communities. Directors may also revise their plans and procedures to prepare for future emergencies or disasters.
Emergency management directors working for hospitals, universities, or private companies may be called business continuity managers. Similar to their counterparts in local and state government, business continuity managers prepare plans and procedures to help businesses maintain operations and minimize losses during and after an emergency.
Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree, as well as multiple years of work experience in emergency response, disaster planning, or public administration.Education
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.
Some smaller municipalities or local governments may hire applicants who have just a high school diploma. However, these applicants usually need extensive work experience in emergency management if they are to be hired.Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Applicants typically need multiple years of work experience, often with the military, law enforcement, fire safety, or in another emergency management field, before they can be hired as an emergency management director. Previous work experience in these areas enables applicants to make difficult decisions in stressful and time-sensitive situations. Such experience also prepares one to work with various agencies to ensure that proper resources are used to respond to emergencies.
For more information, see the profiles on police and detectives, firefighters, police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers, and EMTs and paramedics.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states require directors to obtain certification within a certain timeframe after being hired in the position.
Many agencies and states offer voluntary certificate programs to help emergency management directors obtain additional skills. Some employers may prefer or even require a Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM®), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), or equivalent designation. Emergency management directors can attain the CEM designation through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM); the certification must be renewed every 5 years. The CBCP designation is given by the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI) and must be renewed every 2 years.
Both associations require applicants to complete a certain number of continuing education courses prior to recertification.Important Qualities
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.
Decisionmaking 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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Managing Director
Top Careers After Managing Director
Hispanic or Latino8.9%
Black or African American0.9%
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New York University10.3%
University of Phoenix9.5%
University of Pennsylvania5.6%
George Washington University5.4%
University of Chicago5.2%
University of Southern California4.5%
University of Texas at Austin4.2%
Michigan State University3.8%
University of Florida3.2%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Managing Director & Head of Commodities||Citadel LLC||Chicago, IL||Jul 31, 2017||$500,000|
|Extended Managing Director||Goldman, Sachs & Co.||Chicago, IL||Aug 01, 2014||$400,000|
|Extended Managing Director||Goldman, Sachs & Co.||Chicago, IL||Aug 02, 2015||$400,000 -
|Managing Director (International M&A)||Lincoln International LLC||Chicago, IL||Sep 03, 2011||$250,000|
|Managing Director-Domestic Planning||United Airlines, Inc.||Chicago, IL||May 22, 2017||$240,000 -
|Managing Director||Zig USA LLC||Chicago, IL||Oct 29, 2009||$225,000|
|Managing Director||Zig USA LLC||Chicago, IL||Sep 23, 2009||$225,000|
|Managing Director-Domestic Planning||United Airlines, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Jun 01, 2017||$215,000 -
|Managing Director||Grant Thornton LLP||Chicago, IL||Sep 13, 2017||$210,500 -
|Managing Director, HPS Implementation Portfolio Lead||Evolent Health LLC||Chicago, IL||Jun 18, 2018||$195,000 -
|Managing Director||Hanse ORGA International Corp.||Chicago, IL||Mar 01, 2014||$164,000|
|Managing Director||Thora Capital, LLC||Chicago, IL||Apr 16, 2018||$152,298 -
|Managing Director of Market Forward Chicago||Prodigious USA, LLC D/B/A Market Forward||Chicago, IL||Mar 17, 2014||$148,346 -
|Director, Revenue Management||United Airlines, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Oct 15, 2014||$131,355|
|Director, Revenue Management||United Airlines, Inc.||Chicago, IL||May 10, 2013||$127,902|
|Managing Director||Thora Capital, LLC||Chicago, IL||Apr 16, 2018||$116,022 -
|Managing Director||Transwestern Commerical Services LLC||Chicago, IL||May 01, 2013||$110,347|
|Managing Director, Community & District Partnerships||Teach for America||Chicago, IL||Oct 31, 2017||$108,000|
|Managing Director||Aarete, LLC||Chicago, IL||Oct 01, 2017||$103,813 -
|Managing Director||Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 18, 2014||$100,000|
|Managing Director, People Development-Strategy & Operations||Teach for America||Chicago, IL||May 10, 2015||$91,500|
|Managing Director||Rithy Properties, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 24, 2013||$89,741|
|Managing Director||Meltwater News Us1 Inc.||Chicago, IL||Apr 29, 2014||$86,445|
|Managing Director||Transwestern Commercial Services LLC||Chicago, IL||Oct 09, 2014||$83,574|
|Director of Brand Management||Pacific Direct, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Oct 01, 2009||$80,000|
|Director, Private Wealth Management & Acquisition||SP Family Office LLC||Chicago, IL||May 21, 2013||$80,000|
|Director of Revenue Management||Thor Palmer House Hotel, LLC||Chicago, IL||Jul 19, 2010||$77,000|
|Director of Revenue Management||Hilton Illinois Corporation||Chicago, IL||Nov 30, 2009||$73,045|
|Director of Revenue Management||Hilton Illinois Corporation||Chicago, IL||Dec 01, 2012||$67,000|
|Director of Revenue Management||Hilton Illinois Corporation||Chicago, IL||Nov 30, 2009||$60,000|
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