Homeland Security Careers
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a government department that 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 – both foreign and domestic. DHS employees are involved in securing the nation’s borders, airports, seaports, and waterways. They are responsible for developing and testing new security technologies. The DHS is the body responsible for responding to not only terrorist attacks, but natural disasters as well.
There are many divisions around the country that provide opportunities for Homeland Security professionals. These include US Citizenship and Immigration Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the US Transportation Security Administration, 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 a Homeland Security degree that prepares applicants for a career in law enforcement, investigations of international and domestic terrorism, investigation of cybercrime, the management of hazardous materials, and industrial and commercial security. Although students can earn an associate’s, a bachelor’s, or a master’s in Homeland Security, for higher-level positions in this field, a minimum of a bachelor’s is recommended. It is not a requirement that one have a degree in Homeland Security in order to be employed by this department. In fact, a bachelor’s in criminal justice can also pave the way in this career.
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 (Department of Defense)
- CIA Officer (Department of Defense)
- FBI Agent (Department of Justice)
- 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
Like most government jobs, positions in the DHS offer competitive salaries and benefits. The salary varies greatly depending on location, experience, education, and job function. For example an emergency management specialist earns a median salary of $56,900 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 Federal employees are typically paid based on the General Schedule pay tables which can be viewed at the US Office of Personnel Management website. In addition to the salary, there are many benefits offered 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 a retirement plan. Another benefit is personal leave days that may be used for vacation, illness, and care of family members and paid federal holidays. In some particular positions, there may be the opportunity 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 will rise in response to the ongoing threat of terrorism. Job availability will also depend on federal funding and the DHS budget. The DHS budget for fiscal year 2012 was just over $46 billion.2 An increase in retirements from baby boomers will provide additional opportunities. Job openings can be found on the Department of Homeland Security official 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. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2009/may/oes131061.htm
2. Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/mgmt/dhs-budget-in-brief-fy2013.pdf