Public service, charity and social work

Sector menu

Emergency planning: career area

Emergency planning: career area

In a career as an emergency planner you'll be responsible for co-ordinating the emergency services in a crisis.

Emergency planning encompasses a range of activities under the heading ‘civil protection’. The Cabinet Office coordinates emergency planning across the government and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also have key strategic responsibilities in this area. While there are opportunities to work and contribute at a national level, most emergency planners are employed by local authorities.

Working as an emergency planning officer (EPO) involves liaising with other agencies and departments, including the police, fire and ambulance services, to co-ordinate and prepare emergency plans, procedures and activities to meet the challenge of any major emergency. It also involves assisting with recovery from major incidents and implementing preventative measures.

The work of an EPO can be very broad ranging and differs between authorities. Additional job roles include emergency planning liaison officer, emergency services incident officer and overall incident commander.

Activities may include:

  • writing and implementing safety development plans and reports
  • revising existing procedures in the light of new developments
  • responding to emergencies and co-ordinating the mobilisation of support services.

The skills you need for a career in emergency planning

  • The ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Organisation, management and leadership skills
  • Good communication skills. 

Emergency planning recruitment

Though no formal qualifications are required, opportunities in emergency planning require training in emergency preparedness. It is possible to study for a recognised university qualification such as the postgraduate certificate, diploma or MSc in emergency planning and management offered by Coventry University. Vacancies and further information can be found by contacting your local authority.

Employers will look for indications of a good general education and communication skills. They are also likely to look for some previous experience in emergency planning or a related field, for example, the emergency services or the forces.

For entry to a first role in emergency planning, previous work experience or a placement in an emergency planning related role is an advantage. Practical experience, such as voluntary work for humanitarian organisations, can also be useful and candidates should be able to demonstrate good management, leadership and an ability to cope with high-pressure situations.