Emergency Management Officer Āpiha Whakahaere Ohotata

Emergency management officers plan for and respond to emergencies such as earthquakes and weather events. They also train communities to prepare for disasters.

Emergency management officers may do some or all of the following:

  • develop civil defence emergency management plans
  • provide advice and education on emergency preparedness to the community and local businesses
  • develop disaster simulations and exercises to test operational plans
  • set up and operate emergency operation centres
  • liaise with emergency services such as the police
  • research hazards that threaten the community
  • write reports and operational procedures and policies
  • organise and deliver training to staff and volunteers
  • speak to the media about emergency management issues.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for emergency management officers includes:

  • work for the police, ambulance services, Fire and Emergency New Zealand or New Zealand Defence Force
  • civil defence work
  • social work or environmental health officer work
  • city council and planning work
  • risk management or hazard analysis experience
  • volunteer and community development experience
  • search and rescue experience.

Many emergency management officers start their career as a volunteer for their local civil defence group.

Personal Qualities

Emergency management officers need to be:

  • calm, decisive and positive during emergencies
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to work well with a wide range of people
  • able to train and motivate people
  • able to process complex information and solve problems quickly
  • skilled at oral and written communication
  • skilled at project management 
  • skilled at relationship management 
  • skilled at leadership.


Emergency management officers need to have knowledge of:

  • building evacuation procedures
  • potential risks and hazards
  • their local community and community agencies
  • emergency management legislation
  • project management methods
  • presentation skills and adult training methods
  • risk management.


Emergency management officers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be rostered on call for evenings and weekends
  • are expected to be available at short notice for any emergency
  • work in offices, and may work in bunkers or in the field during emergencies
  • may travel nationally or internationally to attend training events, conferences or emergencies.

Emergency Management Officers can earn around $66K-$79K per year.

Pay for emergency management officers varies depending on experience, qualifications and where they work.

  • Emergency management officers with up to three years' experience usually earn between $66,000 and $79,000 a year.
  • After three to six years' experience they usually earn between $79,000 and $85,000.
  • Senior emergency management officers with more than six years' experience or who work as team leaders can earn up to $95,000.

Source: Hawke's Bay Regional Council, 2018.

Emergency management officers may move into management roles as controllers, or into policy analyst roles.

With further training, emergency management officers may progress to work in international disaster relief work with organisations such as the United Nations and Red Cross.

Emergency management officers can specialise in a number of roles, including:

Business Continuity Adviser/Emergency Management Adviser
Emergency management advisers gather and analyse information to assist in the planning, development, interpretation and review of policies relating to emergency management.
Lifeline Utility Co-ordinator
Lifeline utility co-ordinators work with the providers of essential services such as electricity, transport and telecommunications to help services function during and after an emergency.
Public Information Manager
Public information managers receive, check, pass on and distribute information about emergency preparedness and emergencies.
Welfare Manager
Welfare managers coordinate and support the delivery of welfare services by community agencies during and after an emergency.
Welfare Centre Supervisor/Temporary Animal Shelter Supervisor
Welfare centre supervisors/Temporary animal shelter supervisors manage welfare centres and animal shelters that house people and animals during and after an emergency.

Years Of Training

>1 year of training usually required.

To become an emergency management officer you need to have:

  • a full driver's licence
  • relevant work experience, such as volunteering for civil defence
  • no criminal convictions.

Emergency management officers are usually trained on the job and complete short courses in emergency management subjects.

A Postgraduate Diploma in Emergency Management can be completed by distance learning to advance your career. 

Emergency Management Officer