Earning a Master's in Emergency Management Online

Should I Pursue a Master's in Emergency Management Online?

Earning an emergency management master's degree online prepares you to strategically apply problem-solving skills to help people in their time of need. The knowledge you gain throughout your studies equips you to oversee disaster preparation, response, and recovery efforts. Furthermore, your ability to communicate effectively allows you to coordinate with government officials, public safety personnel, nonprofit organizations, and the media about how best to protect and save lives.

An online master's degree in emergency management permits the kind of flexibility an on-campus program may not since you can attend class whenever best fits your schedule. In addition, you can continue to work while enrolled in school, which provides ample opportunity to apply lessons learned in classes to practical situations. Police and fire departments, humanitarian aid organizations, government agencies, and hospitals require experts in this field; in other words, after graduation, you can pursue many different careers.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Emergency Management Graduates

Master's in Emergency Management Salary

These tables offer insight about the annual salary for emergency management directors. The first table reports the top paying six states for this profession by annual mean wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It also provides data about the number of people employed in this career in each of these states.

The second table references PayScale data to report how much emergency management directors earn based on experience level. The salary information in this table details the average annual income for entry-level through late-career professionals. As you can see, this career offers a lucrative annual income for those who enter it.

Top Paying States for Emergency Management Directors

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
California 940 $125,750
District of Columbia 200 $120,330
New York 630 $100,640
Maryland 90 $99,760
Washington 160 $97,260
United States 9,560 $81,140

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Emergency Manager

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $52,500
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $66,700
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $77,900
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $83,900

Source: PayScale

Master's in Emergency Management Careers

An online master's degree in emergency management prepares you to deal with life-or-death situations. For this reason, you must demonstrate calm under pressure, possess leadership capabilities to guide teams, and communicate important messages with accuracy. Emergency management directors work in a variety of industries, but some of the most common settings include hospitals, humanitarian nonprofits, and government agencies. Many also work in corporations, helping them devise tactics to handle unexpected catastrophes.

Emergency Management Director

Annual Median Salary: $72,760
Projected Growth Rate: 8%

These experts develop procedures to manage disasters and emergencies. In addition to preparing for and responding to these events, they coordinate action plans with elected officials, safety personnel, media contacts, and the government. This may include sharing equipment and requesting funding for emergency and disaster management. An advanced degree strengthens their ability to clearly communicate with stakeholders and partners.

Management Consultant

Annual Median Salary: $82,450
Projected Growth Rate: 14%

This career requires the analytical and decision-making capabilities that students develop in an online master's in emergency management program. Responsibilities include devising strategies to improve organizations' efficiency, including mitigating the risks that catastrophes cause when it comes to revenues, operations, and staff morale.

Operations Manager

Annual Median Salary: $100,410
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

These professionals direct and oversee organizational operations, which can include developing policies, overseeing daily logistics, and directing the use of material and human resources. Operations managers must balance analytical and pragmatic decision-making to safeguard their organization and its people.

What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Emergency Management Program?

Classes in your master's in emergency management depend on the program and school you select, but most offer a similar curriculum. The following descriptions provide a sense of what you can expect to study in your classes. Learn more about these courses to prepare for a meaningful degree following graduation.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Emergency Management

  1. Critical Issues in Emergency Management: This course explores emergency management theories so that students understand the phenomena of manmade and natural disasters. Topics include the history of emergency management, risk assessment processes, and crisis planning. In addition, studies focus on the National Incident Management System in the U.S. This knowledge prepares learners to become an emergency management director.
  2. Disaster Response and Recovery: Students examine relocation, evacuation, and strategic decision-making in the wake of an emergency event. Not only do they review disaster-related federal policies, but they also build an understanding of how all levels of government work collaboratively when disaster occurs. Operations managers use this knowledge to lead business continuity efforts during a catastrophe.
  3. Issues in Homeland Security: This class analyzes the history, policies, and strategies of the Department of Homeland Security. Topics include ethical issues, threat assessment, technology, and risk management. In addition, learners strengthen their analytical and problem-solving abilities through assignments that include case studies. This class can prepare students for a career in this federal agency.
  4. Terrorism Policy and Legislation: Learners examine contemporary articles, various media sources, and traditional literature to understand the cause and evolution of terrorist groups and their acts. Moreover, students analyze the role of the government and media when it comes to preventing and responding to terrorism. This knowledge prepares students for careers in law enforcement.
  5. Organizational Leadership and Management: Students examine the intricate roles of nonprofit and public leaders in public administration. Using applied and theoretical perspectives, they distinguish between leadership and management while also exploring change management, organizational culture, and organizational development. As a result, students gain the knowledge necessary to oversee a nonprofit or government agency.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Emergency Management Prepares For

  • Certified Emergency Manager: This designation verifies the skills, knowledge, and capability to oversee an emergency management program. Certification holders understand disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Geared toward an emergency management director, the certification requires at least three years of work experience, a four-year degree, and at least 100 hours in both emergency management and general management training.
  • Association Emergency Manager: Designed for those with less experience than a Certified Emergency Manager, this certification requires applicants to fulfill training, reference, essay, and exam requirements. Certification applicants must possess at least three years of work experience, including participation in either an actual disaster or a full-scale exercise. They must have also contributed to the field through published articles, speaking engagements, or volunteerism.