Homeland Security Careers
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The job of DHS professionals is to protect the citizens of this country from attack, at home and abroad. DHS employees are involved in securing the nation’s borders, airports, seaports, and waterways. They are also involved in developing and testing new security technologies. In addition to responding to terrorist threats, the DHS also responds to natural disasters.
There are many DHS divisions that provide opportunities for homeland security professionals. These include Immigration Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and others.
How to Become a Homeland Security Professional
Formal education and significant training is recommended to prepare for the challenges of working in this rapidly changing and complex field. Many colleges and universities now offer homeland security degree programs that prepare students for careers in law enforcement, the investigation of international and domestic terrorism, the investigation of cybercrime, the management of hazardous materials, and industrial and commercial security. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field is recommended.
Careers in Homeland Security
Learn more about specific careers including job descriptions, requirements, and salary information. Careers below fall within the Department of Homeland Security unless otherwise noted.
- Border patrol agent
- CIA analyst
- CIA officer
- FBI agent
- Federal air marshal
- ICE agent
- Immigration enforcement agent
- Secret Service agent
- TSA screener
Degrees for Homeland Security
- Homeland Security Degree
- Cybersecurity Degree
- Emergency Management Degree
- Counterterrorism Degree
- Security Management Degree
- Criminal Justice Administration Degree
Homeland Security Salary & Benefits
Positions in the DHS offer competitive salaries and benefits. The salary varies depending on location, experience, education, and job function. Federal employees are typically paid based on the federal General Schedule (GS) pay tables, which can be viewed at the US Office of Personnel Management website. In addition to salary, there are many federal benefits including health, life, and long-term care insurance policies, the government’s thrift savings plan (which is similar to a 401(k)), flexible spending accounts, and pension plans. Another benefit is personal leave days that may be used for vacation, illness, and care of family members. In some positions, there may be opportunities for additional benefits like tuition reimbursement, health and wellness programs, fitness centers, and a uniform allowance.
The outlook for positions in the Department of Homeland Security is positive as the demand for qualified professionals in this field remains stable in light of the ongoing threat of terrorism. An increase in retirements from officers and agents from the Boomer generation may provide additional opportunities. Job openings can be found on the DHS site.
Our list of top homeland security blogs provide news, insights, and commentary on the work of professionals in this field.
Additional Helpful Resources
Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Programs
1. Office of Personnel Management 2016 General Schedule: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/2016/general-schedule/