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How To Get a Job in Emergency Management

How To Get a Job in Emergency Management


In today’s rapidly modernizing world, threats to everyday life are constantly evolving. Factors such as climate change, international cyberterrorism, and domestic terrorism need highly skilled professionals to address and ultimately solve these problems.

If you’re interested in helping others during erratic and unpredictable incidents, consider becoming an emergency management professional. Here’s an overview of what emergency management is, how to obtain a job in this field, and why it can be an incredibly rewarding career.

What Is Emergency Management?

Emergency management, also known as the emergency services sector, is an industry of highly skilled professionals who are responsible for the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery of an emergency incident. The overarching goal of these various roles is to protect the lives, property, and environment of communities affected by disasters.

According to Ann Lesperance, director of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University, emergency management is about “how we respond. How we follow incident command structure.” These are important elements to any successful role in emergency management.

How To Get a Job in Emergency Management

Obtaining a job in emergency management isn’t difficult, but requires a purposeful resumé with the right qualifications. If you’re interested in entering the dynamic field of emergency management, here’s everything you need to stand out to prospective employers.


Earning the right degree is a crucial step to becoming an emergency management professional. No matter what career path in emergency management you choose, a bachelor’s degree is often a minimum requirement to obtain employment.

According to our analysis of job postings data, nearly 54 percent of emergency management postings from 2020 to 2022 required a bachelor’s degree. Many professionals in the field hold bachelor’s degrees in areas of study such as communications, business, and computer science. Those who hope to advance to higher level positions, however, should consider furthering their education.

16% of emergency management postings require a diploma or GED; 7% an associate's; 54% a bachelor's; 21% a master's; 22% a PhD

According to the same data, around 21 percent of these job postings required a master’s degree, and another 22 percent required a PhD or professional degree. There are a number of factors influencing this trend. For one, the specialized skill sets required for certain roles such as cyber security professionals and research positions are fully developed in advanced degree programs. Additionally, a master’s or professional degree can put a student’s prior education into a better context in the field.

“These programs are a little different because they make you think about how to bring these kinds of societal and critical infrastructure pieces together,” Lesperance says.

Industry Experience

Much like any career, obtaining a job in emergency management often requires related background experience. Fortunately for prospective professionals looking to break into this exciting new field, there’s a higher emphasis on educational requirements, rather than industry experience.

For example, up to 47 percent of emergency management job postings from 2020 to 2022 required one year of prior experience. In addition, only 16 percent of job postings required more than three years of industry experience.

Prospective emergency management professionals should still consider obtaining some kind of experience to ensure they’re fully prepared for the evolving challenges in this industry. One method young professionals can use is experiential learning programs. This can be a great way to obtain advanced degrees while also gaining hands-on experience through internships, co-ops, and more.

Industry-Specific Skill Set

Since there’s such a wide variety of career options within emergency management, the skill sets required can vary from role to role. However, there are a number of skills all emergency professionals should develop, including:

  • Management
  • Communications
  • Emergency Response
  • Coordinating
  • Operations

This is largely due to the evolving nature of many emergency management positions. As more education and qualifications are required to enter this field, more professionals hoping to enter the field are expected to exhibit exemplary leadership skills to match the caliber of their positions. Prospective emergency management professionals should consider developing their management and communication skills to show employers what they can bring to the role.

Why You Should Work In Emergency Management

Working in emergency management can be an incredibly rewarding field for those who want to help others. Beyond the rewarding experience, professionals in this field benefit from a financially rewarding salary and a positive career outlook.

Salary Potential

As mentioned, there are a number of careers in emergency management, so it’s challenging to pinpoint a median salary of all industry professionals. However, emergency management positions, such as an emergency management specialist, show the financial potential in the industry as a whole.

Emergency management specialists earn a median annual salary of $80,256. Since the national average salary is just under $55,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor of Statistics, this career is on the higher end of earning potential in the United States.

Job Growth/Outlook

Job growth is an incredibly important factor for individuals who want to ensure their future career path is stable enough for long-term employment. For those interested in emergency management, the projected job growth is estimated slightly slower than the national average at about three percent by 2031.

While this isn’t an overwhelming number, there are a number of career paths in cybersecurity and research that aren’t accounted for in this number. For example, cybersecurity jobs are projected to grow by 35 percent by 2031. Therefore, individuals who are interested in emergency management and a high salary might consider cybersecurity as a career path.

Making a Difference

Helping others who are affected by emergency situations can be an extremely rewarding career. Professionals in this field make a difference in their communities everyday. Not surprisingly, some of the top companies that employ emergency management professionals take on a similar objective of helping others. The top ten companies hiring emergency management professionals are:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • WSP Global
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Government
  • Commander
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • City Of Houston
  • Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
  • Tetra Tech

“It’s an exciting area because there’s a lot of opportunity, not only for students, but also after,” Lesperance says. “You can get jobs that allow you to really bring new and innovative thinking into some of these organizations.”

Take the First Step to Entering the Field of Emergency Management

There are a number of career options available to those interested in emergency management. Ann Lesperance, an associate professor of the security and resilience master’s program at Northeastern University, is a national security researcher with a background in environmental science and public health. While this might not sound like emergency management, she “works a lot on response, recovery mitigation, and critical infrastructure protection.”

This kind of experience, along with the other faculty at Northeastern, is a prudent example of how an experiential master’s program can help you take your career to the next level. Industry professionals work directly with students to assist in solving real-world challenges and constantly evolving industry standards. It’s an excellent way to obtain advanced education, skill development, and industry experience.

Interested in learning more about how a master’s degree can take your career in emergency management to the next level? Check out our Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies program.


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