How to Become a

Disaster Response Director

The complete career guide to be a Disaster Response Director: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $73,750
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 6.7%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute

Disaster Response directors supervise plans and processes with regard to natural disasters and other emergencies. They are leaders of the response teams during and after disasters. In their role, disaster response directors coordinate first-hand with other officials in affected areas, such as non-profit officials, public safety officials and government agencies. Through a mix of education and direct work experience, disaster response directors influence important policies for tackling crisis situations.

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What is a Disaster Response Director?

As a disaster response director, you will handle a variety of responsibilities such as:

  • Establish procedures for disaster response actions such as evacuating an area, opening shelters for affected populations and implementing other special needs programs that might be required for public welfare and safety.
  • Develop and maintain business connections across levels, such as county departments, municipalities in order to promote disaster response exchanges such as specialised personnel and equipment.
  • Create efficient processes for testing and evaluating disaster response management plans, in keeping with state and federal law.
  • Maintain the latest knowledge of international or national developments that might influence the likelihood of a disaster or emergency.
  • Undertake regular inspections of equipment and facilities pertaining to disaster response situations, such as communications technology and emergency management centres.

Day in the life

For a disaster response director, planning and preparing plays an integral part in the day-to-day work duties. No matter what the type of disaster – volcanic eruptions, floods, earthquakes, hospital-based incidents or mass casualties – the director’s job is to keep up to date with the likelihood of it taking place, and attempt to save one incident from becoming a full-fledged disaster. Another daily routine is to work towards establishing solid networks and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, before emergencies arise. For instance, responding to the swine flu outbreak required collaboration with medical officials and civil defence.

Work schedule and typical hours

Disaster response directors usually work full time but might have to travel to meet with different government agencies, non-profit organizations and private companies. Further, disaster response directors have to be comfortable with odd hours – most are on call at all times can work overtime in disaster response operations. Working evenings and weekends are also necessary sometimes when preparing disaster response plans in coordination with community groups and other senior officials.

Growth of the job

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, employment in the role of disaster response director will grow 6% between 2014-2024. No matter what the geographical area, there is always potential for weather-related disasters taking place so the need for this job will not diminish in the near future. Disaster response directors will continue to play an active part in plotting detailed disaster response plans for protecting different populations.

Competition in this sector is expected to be strong, for the limited number of opportunities available. However, there will be more job opportunities in the private sector, versus government. Federal level cutbacks in funding might lead to a reduction in job growth with regard to government hiring. There is the possibility of retirements over the next few years, opening up more work positions.

Typical employers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, there are around 9,900 disaster response directors employed in different work contexts across the USA. While the majority of directors usually work for agencies at the state or local government, others will find jobs with private corporations, educational institutions, hospitals, non-profit institutions, and the federal government.

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How To Become a Disaster Response Director

Disaster response directors require several years of experience in the field in order to be effective in their roles. The skills required include critical thinking, problem solving, risk-taking and excellent communication.

At the least, most job opportunities require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as business, emergency management, public administration, finance or public health. Many directors working in the private sector could also have credentials in IT and computer science depending on their specialization.

In addition, there are local and state governments that may hire an applicant that only have a school diploma. But, their lack of an academic degree is usually compensated by extensive work experience relating to disaster response management.

Many directors have a wide range of experience in diverse fields like fire safety, emergency medicine and law enforcement before coming into a senior position like this. It is typically recommended that directors continue their education and develop their credentials by becoming a Certified Emergency Management through the International Association of Emergency Managers.

Disaster Response Director Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Disaster Response Director salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Disaster Response Director's can make an average annual salary of $73,750, or $35 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $47,730 or $23 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #173 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Highest Education Among Disaster Response Directors

  • 3%   Doctorate
  • 23.7%   Masters
  • 32.6%   Bachelors
  • 15.9%   Associates
  • 18.4%   College
  • 5.3%   High School
  • 1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Disaster Response Director job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 700 jobs for a total of 11,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 6.7% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #336 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Disaster Response Directors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 5,500 300 0%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 1,200 100 ---
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 600 100 ---

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