Looking for a Position in Crisis Management? Consider These Important Jobs

Looking for a Position in Crisis Management? Consider These Important Jobs

Public Administration

When disasters strike, such as epidemics, environmental threats, data breaches, or terrorist attacks, how are proper responses initiated, managed, and implemented? How can public authorities, non-governmental agencies, and businesses respond in ways that limit destruction and protect institutions and populations from further harm?

Disturbing events such as Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico; the 9/11 attacks; and the Flint, Michigan water crisis demanded urgent responses and compelled government officials and other key leaders to recognize the importance of effective crisis management. Dealing with crises poses incredible challenges to those tasked with safeguarding communities. By their very nature, crises take populations by surprise and present unforeseen circumstances. However, through adept leadership, crisis management professionals can improve the preparedness of their organizations and foster faster recoveries to limit damage and harm.

Those interested in pursuing crisis management jobs must cultivate a strong foundation of key skills. Earning an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Public Administration, can build the leadership, advanced problem-solving and critical-thinking needed for effective crisis management in both government and non-government sectors.                           

What Is Crisis Management?

When disasters occur, effective crisis management can reduce their impact. Crisis management involves identifying and assessing a crisis, then deciding on a course of action. Crises are not always straightforward and clear. They often require making sense of ambiguous and even contradictory details. Besides, crises often leave decision-makers with limited time and information to evaluate the situation. As a result, experts in crisis management must be flexible and able to seamlessly shift from their daily routines into crisis circumstances. Because an effective response to a crisis often requires a variety of actions, crisis management demands strategic coordination between different levels of government and agencies.

Governments and other organizations can best prepare for crises by developing tactical crisis management plans. These plans address how to execute operations in various crises. To develop these plans, organizations conduct a risk analysis.

Risk analysis is a process that identifies crisis events and the probability of their occurrences. It works to measure the potential damages that various events may cause by using simulations and adding variables into risk models. With the results of a risk analysis, organizations can devise crisis management plans that detail strategies for dealing with various emergencies. These crisis management plans can provide important direction during a crisis and may help restore order more quickly. However, because every crisis presents unique obstacles, crisis management professionals may need to re-evaluate these plans during actual emergencies and make adjustments to minimize the impact of the event.

Different types of crises arise in government and non-government settings. For example, governments and nonprofits may respond to events created by terrorism such as cyberattacks on critical infrastructures and key networks, or actual physical attacks on communities or infrastructure. Local, state, and federal government officials, along with organizations such as the Red Cross, are more apt to handle crises brought on by natural disasters. Depending on the nature of a threat, public authorities may have to make decisions about critical issues such as resources, the use of force, as well as search and rescue missions. Businesses, on the other hand, usually manage crises related to the death of a top executive, an operational failure, or a cyberattack to a critical system.

Crises produce great anxiety, which can worsen already difficult situations. As a result, leaders in crisis management must do their best to reduce anxiety. This requires providing clear communication about what is happening, why it is happening, and what is being done to deal with the situation. This may not only help alleviate some of the stress, but also prove critical in gaining key cooperation from the citizenry, governmental leaders, and other crises resource organizations. For business-focused crises, this communication can help protect a company’s reputation, operational viability, and work to preserve client trust. 

How Norwich University Prepares Students for a Crisis Management Career     

Developing the expertise to innovate solutions in crisis management demands a comprehensive study of public administration. Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration program can help cultivate the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in many crisis management jobs.

The curriculum offers coursework focused on strengthening leadership, communication, decision-making, critical thinking, and interpersonal competencies through the following core and concentration-specific courses:

  • Foundations of Public Administration & Policy: covers general public administration concepts relating to professional ethics and accountability, governance, and strategic planning. Students taking will acquire a foundation on essential public administration skills including research, analysis, and information integration.
  • Public Organization Resources and Processes: addresses three public administration focuses including organizational leadership, legal issues in public organizations, and human resources. Topics covered in these areas include hiring, evaluating, and training employees and managers; developing an organizational vision; implementing strategic leadership and conflict management; and understanding legal aspects of public leadership, such as employment law and civil liability.
  • Foundations of Leadership and Ethical Decision Making: provides students with the opportunity to evaluate major leadership theories utilizing skills developed in class. Also, students apply these theories in a variety of public administration and nonprofit contexts.
  • Public Leadership, Crisis Management, and Organizational Change: Students examine how leaders make critical decisions during a crisis in this concentration course. They also study the implementation of crisis management strategies, methods of disseminating information, and leadership accountability in critical situations.

Potential Crisis Management Careers

Once obtaining an advanced degree in public administration, individuals can pursue a variety of potential crisis management-related career paths. The following crisis management jobs offer a wide range of opportunities to professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Deputy Fire Chief

Deputy fire chiefs supervise the major operations of their departments. Responsibilities include firefighting, emergency medical services, and disaster response. They prepare response plans for dealing with emergencies and develop disaster procedures to execute their department’s policies. Deputy fire chiefs also manage staff hiring and training programs.

When dealing with crises, these high-ranking officials conduct threat assessments, develop strategies for containing damage, and coordinate across their departments to execute crisis management plans. Skills in strategic planning, human resources, and public leadership gained through a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in leadership and crisis management may facilitate the ability of deputy fire chiefs to accomplish their important responsibilities. 

As of September 2019, PayScale reports the median salary for deputy fire chiefs at $90,000 a year, with earnings ranging between $57,000 and $131,000 annually. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% job growth for deputy fire chiefs between 2018 and 2028.

Chief of Staff

Chiefs of staff have many duties. They usually coordinate support staff and key operations for lead executives and work in complex institutions or organizations. Chiefs of staff serve as key communicators, managing information that flows between their bosses, top executives, clients, and other stakeholders. They also serve as important consultants to their bosses, discussing key initiatives and providing relevant information from the departments that report to them.

Public officials or top executives with responsibilities for crisis management rely heavily on their chiefs of staff. In crisis management, chiefs of staff help communicate the ideas, concerns, and needs between employees and their leaders. They also play a critical role in facilitating coordination between departments crucial to crisis management. Master of Public Administration coursework with a concentration in leadership and crisis management focuses on the process of making critical decisions, as well as on organizational leadership. This critical knowledge can help prepare the chiefs of staff to manage some of their most important duties.

Chiefs of staff, considered top executives, earn a median salary of $105,000 a year according to the BLS. Salaries range from $68,000 to $208,000 annually. Job opportunities are expected to grow 6% by between 2018 and 2028.

City Public Works Manager

Public works—including parks, streets, schools, and other structures for public use—require city public works managers to oversee their construction and maintenance. These managers help ensure that public works function well and serve their communities. They create and review public works proposals and develop plans to handle the maintenance, safety, and operations.

In their role, city public works managers also must prepare for emergencies. During times of crisis, they must assess threats and take actions to protect public works. By earning a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in leadership and crisis management, city public works managers enhance their ability to more effectively respond to crises and help safeguard public works.

As of September 2019, PayScale reports the median income for city public works managers as $94,000 a year. Salaries range between $45,000 to $90,000 annually. PayScale reports a projected 6% job growth in the coming years. 

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists shape positive public images and perceptions of their organizations.  They use press releases, press conferences, social media, speeches, and other modes of communication to accomplish this task. They effectively manage communication among the organization, clients, and the public. Often referred to as press secretaries when working in government, these professionals provide important information to the public about issues relating to public health, the environment, and public safety. When working in the private sector, public relations specialists may communicate important information to their company’s clients related to product launches, investment concerns, or changes in leadership.

During crises, public relations specialists, in both the private and public sectors, may play a crisis management role in communicating to different audiences throughout a time of uncertainty and anxiety. They help to keep the public and clients informed of current status, and what the government or company is doing to contain and/or remedy the situation. Through a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in leadership and crisis management, public relations specialists can learn tactical methods for communicating in crises - an essential competency of their professional role.

The BLS reports $60,000 a year as the median salary for public relations specialists. Salaries range between $34,000 and $110,000 annually. Job prospects for these professionals are projected to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028.

Pursue a Career in Crisis Management

Preparing for crisis management jobs requires the right training and education. Norwich University’s online Master of Public Administration program provides individuals with the right credentials to  seek a career in crisis management. Discover how this program provides graduates with a competitive edge as they advance their career ambitions in public administration.

Recommended Reading

An Overview of the Importance of Public Administration
Incident Response Planning and the Flint Water Crisis
6 Elements of Public Administration

Crisis Management, Government, Encyclopedia Britannica
Master of Public Administration, Norwich University
Director of Crisis Response Job Description, Houston Chronicle
Qualifications for Becoming a Crisis Manager, Houston Chronicle
Crisis Management, Investopedia
Average Chief of Staff Salary, PayScale
Emergency Management Director, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Protective Services Occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Are You Ready to Become Chief of Staff?, Forbes
Top Executives, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average Director of Public Works, City Salary, PayScale
Public Relations Specialist, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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