The rising demand for integrated security measures across the United States has given rise to the field of homeland security. Students who major in homeland security have the chance to pursue exciting careers with government agencies and private businesses that are devoted to emergency prevention and preparedness. Homeland security careers attract individuals with many different talents who possess the shared commitment to keeping the nation safe.
What is Homeland Security?
The term homeland security was coined in 2001 with the formation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States government recognized that it was inadequately prepared to respond to national emergencies. Out of necessity, it established the Department of Homeland Security in order to coordinate emergency response efforts between local, state, and federal agencies. Homeland security not only covers counterterrorism, but it also includes activities that mitigate natural and man-made disasters. A homeland security degree trains students in an integrated approach to emergency management and prepares a student for a career with agencies that are committed to national security.
Courses of Study
Homeland security students must learn how different organizations work together to secure U.S. borders, airports, waterways, and seaports. Homeland security courses will introduce students to different homeland security threats and offer an overview of the agencies that must respond to these threats.
The following topics are covered in a homeland security degree program:
- Critical Infrastructure Protection
- Disaster Preparedness and Response
- Emergency Management
- Introduction to Terrorism
- Legal and Ethical Issues in Homeland Security
- Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
Many state and federal agencies also offer internships for students interested in homeland security careers. Internships are a valuable experience and allow students to try out different careers before they graduate.
Qualifications for a Homeland Security Career
Because homeland security careers call for a high degree of professionalism and integrity, job applicants must undergo thorough screening. Nearly all homeland security positions require applicants to pass a background check that disqualifies applicants with felonies or histories of domestic violence. Homeland security positions also require that applicants be U.S. citizens.
Law enforcement jobs and other physically demanding positions require candidates to be physically fit. Candidates for these jobs must pass fitness tests, drug tests, and medical exams. Many agencies also require candidates to successfully complete a training academy and an extensive period of on-the-job training.
Before enrolling in a homeland security degree program, it is advised that students review the qualifications for their intended career. If you have questions about your eligibility for a certain position, a program representative can help you determine whether you are qualified.
Benefits of Studying Homeland Security Online
Students who are interested in pursuing a homeland security career are strongly advised to obtain an associate degree at minimum. Though many agencies do not require applicants to have a degree for entry-level jobs, agencies will require direct experience that the average job seeker does not possess. In lieu of experience, many state and federal agencies count education as experience and offer higher pay to candidates who possess a college degree. Studying homeland security online allows career-changers and working students to work full-time while reaching the eligibility requirements for their first homeland security career.
Homeland Security Careers
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, homeland security jobs fall into the following categories:
- Mission Support
- Law Enforcement
- Immigration and Travel Security
- Disaster Prevention and Response
Agencies that employ homeland security specialists include:
- Office of Intelligence and Analysis
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Transportation Security Administration
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- U.S. Coast Guard
These organizations hire a variety of specialists, including security agents, customs and border patrol agents, emergency management directors, forensics experts, and policy analysts. Expertise in homeland security is valued by local government enforcement agencies as well. Police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians also rely on homeland security training to coordinate with state and local governments in response to emergencies.
Agencies and private organizations of all sizes are recognizing the role they play in protecting citizens from natural and man-made disasters. Because no agency responds to emergencies in isolation, the need for coordination is expected to increase. Job seekers with formal training in homeland security will remain highly valued by public and private employers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2006). Careers in Homeland Security: Many Jobs, One Mission.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.) Careers – Types of Jobs.