What a Crisis Manager Does and How to Be a Great One

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Sheryl Green
Sheryl Green


You may be familiar with the adage, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” As much as we don’t want to think about the terrible things that can happen in business and life, negative occurrences are inevitable. Whether it’s a product defect that leads to a recall, a security breach that leaves our customer’s data vulnerable, or violence or disasters in the workplace, bad things are bound to happen at some point.

what is a crisis manager

While it’s not the happiest of thoughts, it’s realistic. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of opting out from negative occurrences. Still, we do have the ability to plan ahead so that when the unthinkable happens, we’ve already thought of it, and have a plan in place to limit the damages.

If none of what you’ve read has you rocking in the corner, and you’re actually excited by the possibility of being the person a business turns to in times of crisis, you might be perfect for a career in Crisis Management. Throughout this piece, you’ll learn what a crisis manager does and how to be a great one, according to service experts. 

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Crisis Management

Crisis management is how organizations prevent, prepare for, and respond to events that could be detrimental to employees, customers, or the organization as a whole. This field helps identify uncertain conditions that could cause harm and mitigate the impact if you can’t prevent them. It is an essential aspect of any business and can save millions of dollars in fallout, not to mention saving a brand’s reputation.

Throughout this piece, you’ll learn what a crisis manager does and how to be a great one, according to service experts.

What is a Crisis Manager?

The job of a crisis manager is to be proactive, identify threats, and the process they’ll use to work through them before a crisis ever happens. A crisis manager is involved at every stage - before, during, and after a crisis. 

While everyone in an organization may be involved in carrying out a crisis management plan, the crisis manager is responsible for devising this plan, making sure it runs smoothly, and communicating with employees, customers, shareholders, board members, and the public so the experience does not damage the organization’s reputation.

Crisis Manager Tasks Before or Pre-Crisis

  • Identify risks
  • Establish early monitoring systems
  • Develop a crisis plan to minimize risks

Crisis Manager Tasks During a Crisis Response

  • Lead the crisis management team
  • Communicate with employees and shareholders, customers
  • Speak with the media to maintain a positive public reputation

Crisis Manager Tasks After or Post-Crisis

  • Continue to lead the crisis management team
  • Review the response plan, identify what did and did not work, and make any necessary changes

How Much Does a Crisis Manager Make?

Before we dive into what it takes to land a job as a crisis manager, you might wonder what an average crisis manager’s salary is. While compensation can vary based on experience, geographic area, the company you work for, and many other factors, the average salary for a crisis manager is $56,359, according to Indeed.com. For example, in Los Angeles, CA, Zip Recruiter shows a range from $24,882 up to $158,820 and determined an average of $63,110.

How to Become a Crisis Manager

Before we dive into education and certification, let’s look at what personality characteristics you must have to be a great crisis manager.

In order to excel in this field, you’ll need to be:

  • Calm under pressure
  • A great communicator
  • Solution-focused
  • Able to think clearly and act quickly
  • Able to handle stress
  • Proactive
  • Concerned for the wellbeing of the organization and your team members

Critical thinking skills are essential, as are strong leadership and interpersonal skills. You will have to motivate employees to take action during difficult times and keep them calm enough to be effective.

Does this still sound like you? Perfect! Now, it’s time to determine what you need to do to make a career out of your passion and abilities.

While many careers have a very obvious path beginning with a specific college degree, Crisis management is slightly different. If you’re looking at becoming a crisis manager, there are very few job-specific degrees available. However, emergency management is a common educational path for crisis managers as-is business administration.  You will also find a number of crisis management positions that look for a degree or experience in public relations with classes in crisis communication.

There is an Institute for Crisis Management (ICM) that offers certification and provides training in:

  • Identifying and preparing for a business crisis
  • Evaluating vulnerabilities
  • Gaining support from senior management
  • Essential communication tools
  • Preparing recovery plans

You can also look for communication courses and resources through organizations like the Institute for Public Relations (IPR).

Like it or not, every business will experience challenges, setbacks, and full-blown crises throughout its lifetime. As a crisis manager, you will be responsible for looking into the future to identify these challenges before they turn into major issues and creating a plan that will help minimize the damage these situations could cause.

You can be the difference between a business being destroyed by a crisis or surviving relatively unscathed.

crisis communication


Manage, plan for, and communicate during a corporate crisis.


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