As a new kind of composite structures, the using of steel confined reinforced concrete column attract increasing attention in civil engineer. During the damage process, this new structure offers highly complex and invisible failure mechanism due to the combination effects of steel tubes, concrete, and steel rebar. Acoustic emission (AE) technique has been extensively studied in nondestructive testing (NDT) and is currently applied in civil engineering for structural health monitoring (SHM) and damage evaluation. In the present study, damage property and failure evolution of steel confined and unconfined reinforced concrete (RC) columns are investigated under quasi-static loading through (AE) signal. Significantly improved loading capacity and excellent energy dissipation characteristic demonstrated the practicality of that proposed structure. AE monitoring results indicated that the progressive deformation of the test specimens occur in three stages representing different damage conditions. Sentry function compares the logarithm ratio between the stored strain energy (Es) and the released acoustic energy (Ea); explicitly disclose the damage growth and failure mechanism of the test specimens. Other extended AE features including index of damage (ID), and relax ratio are calculated to quantitatively evaluate the damage severity and critical point. Complicated temporal evolution of different AE features confirms the potential importance of integrated analysis of two or more parameters. The proposed multi-indicators analysis is capable of revealing the damage growth and failure mechanism for steel confined RC columns, and providing critical warning information for structure failure.