Emergency management is a profession that helps organizations and communities reduce vulnerabilities and cope with disasters. Emergency managers oversee preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

Emergency management is an important consideration of government agencies, international corporations, and nonprofit organizations. Even small businesses need to make sure their work is prepared to deal with unexpected emergencies. Individuals with skills and experience can help fill this need.


What kind of situations require emergency management?

Terrorism, flooding, and the spread of the Zika virus are just some of the situations that have contributed to the rise of emergency management as a professional field in the 21st century.

Situations that may require the assistance of emergency managers include:

  • Terrorism
  • Virus threats
  • Chemical spills
  • Contaminated water
  • Weather-related disasters, such as snowstorms, tornados, floods, earthquakes
  • Drought
  • Fires


What skills are needed to succeed in emergency management?

People who thrive in emergency management share certain traits and characteristics. They must be able to:

  • Communicate clearly.
  • Solve problems creatively.
  • Use critical thinking to evaluate challenges.
  • Understand how operational and funding systems work.
  • Interact confidently with a wide range of people with different backgrounds.


What careers are associated with this field?

Emergency management professionals work with community leaders to plan responses to natural or human-caused disasters, create mitigation plans that prevent harm and reduce vulnerability to threats, and train others in emergency response procedures. They also work with people affected by emergencies to recover after threats have occurred.

Related job titles include:

  • Emergency operations center director
  • Emergency management director, assistant director, or planner
  • Homeland security coordinator/manager
  • Crisis management consultant
  • Disaster response consultant
  • Highway safety specialist
  • Law enforcement specialist
  • Investigator
  • Customs and border protection officer

Related employment settings include:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Emergency communications agency
  • Emergency management agency – local, state, federal
  • Corporations
  • Private security firm
  • Prison
  • Municipal court system and corrections


What kind of education is relevant to this field?

A bachelor’s degree with a focus on emergency management is sometimes required for a job in the field. However, because emergency management is such a new field, some employers are not requiring a degree in emergency management. Degrees in other fields like business or law are often applicable as well.

Not every job in emergency management requires an advanced degree, but a master’s or doctoral degree in emergency management may set you apart when applying for supervisory or executive leadership positions.

Look for degree programs that offer the following:

  • A comprehensive focus on skills and knowledge needed for mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.
  • Virtual labs or simulation tools that allow you to experience decision-making in real time with simulated real-world scenarios.
  • Partnerships with recognized institutions in the field, such as the International Association of Emergency Managers, the Association of State Floodplain Managers and the Association of Continuity Professionals.


Capella University offers the following online emergency management programs:


Important Information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rate of students who attended these programs.