Vulnerability to a wide range of hazards is increasing in the U.S. and globally. These risks range from natural hazards, such as earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and snowstorms, to man-made dangers like energy or chemical production and acts of terrorism. Each hazard requires varying degrees of strategic intervention and aid.
Practitioners in emergency management and homeland security have unique responsibilities in addressing potential harms of all sorts, and their work is geared toward anticipating and containing those risks to keep communities and nations safe. Given the diversity of threats and increase in occurrence, the field of emergency management is growing to meet demand.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for emergency management directors was $76,730 in 2021. Information security analyst job growth, a role in the field of cybersecurity, is projected to grow by 35% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than average, with a median annual wage of $102,600 in 2021.
Take a closer look at some of the opportunities available in the field of emergency management and homeland security by exploring eight potential career paths that can help you make an impact locally in your community, nationally or globally.
Emergency management jobs
- Emergency response training coordinator
Emergencies can occur in any place at any time, even at work. Many organizations are choosing to be proactive by hiring professionals who are uniquely trained to prepare for situations that can potentially impact employee safety. Emergency response training coordinators develop custom educational programs to teach employees and decision-makers how to act quickly and effectively in a variety of crisis scenarios. From live drills to interactive classes and virtual reality, these training sessions can cover routine safety matters, like how to run an effective fire drill or communicate company-wide days off in the event of hazardous weather. More complex seminars may detail how to respond to large-scale emergencies, including how to protect employees and the workplace in the event of a natural disaster.
Demand for these emergency management and homeland security services is growing, as investing in properly trained staff is much more cost efficient than reacting to an emergency as it escalates in real time. This is particularly evident in traditional high-risk environments, such as concert halls, prisons, shopping malls, hospitals and learning centers.
- Hospital emergency preparedness specialist
Being equipped to respond effectively and professionally in a hospital emergency room is a standard expectation for those pursuing a career in the medical field. However, the excessive volume of cases encountered during a health crisis, natural disaster or emergency event demands a heightened level of staff expertise and preparedness. Emergency preparedness specialists can help organizations be more adequately prepared to manage, as it has the potential to immediately overwhelm personnel and quickly drain resources.
Those working in this emergency management job help medical facilities develop operational plans designed for dealing with different challenges resulting from catastrophic events. In addition to planning for unexpected occurrences, these professionals also work to safeguard hospitals against cyberattacks and other similar threats. The vast amount of electronic patient records and digital communications can make these facilities targets for hackers. Emergency preparedness specialists can assist key decision-makers in addressing risks, installing the right safeguards and coordinating a response in the wake of a breach. From medical services to hospital infrastructure, the emergency specialist role can assist in efforts to ensure better safety processes across the health care industry.
- Emergency manager
Emergency managers are responsible for planning and addressing large-scale hazards across all sectors, from the government realm to private industry. Most emergency managers spend their time developing contingency plans and communications workflows that they can put into action as soon as an adverse natural or man-made event unfolds. These professionals leverage a variety of techniques and tools to continually assess risk and pinpoint potential hazards. Additionally, emergency managers work to secure support and funding for their efforts by lobbying their respective government and organizational leaders.
Emergency managers typically have broad technical expertise, which encompasses everything from responding to natural disasters to containing data breaches and mitigating information loss. The skills needed to succeed in this role include communication, critical thinking and the ability to foster and maintain collaborative relationships with others. Of course, leadership capabilities are often required, as emergency managers must be prepared to coordinate and lead in challenging environments of all kinds.
- Public health preparedness specialist
Public health preparedness specialists can serve many different functions in the emergency management field as they work to protect against disastrous health-related threats. Their work is not just about planning for hazardous events but also the medical care, resources and manpower required in the days and weeks following a widespread crisis.
Strong planning and communication skills are essential for public health preparedness specialists because they must coordinate with first responders and medical professionals. Additionally, the people in these emergency management jobs communicate with the public about what is taking place and develop action plans to help serve the community. Based on qualifications, experience and location, potential employers can include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state governments, large municipal areas or hospital and health care systems.