Homeland Security

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 forever changed the way the United States deals with the threat of attacks by foreign and domestic terrorists. Congress responded by creating and adopting the Homeland SecurityAct in November 2002, which addressed how the country would respond to future acts of terrorism on both a domestic and foreign level.

Included in the Homeland Security Act was the provision responsible for the creation of the United States Department of HomelandSecurity. Established on Nov. 25, 2002, Homeland Security is charged with coordinating and unifying national homeland security efforts.

The department currently employs over 240,000 people, but the need for new personnel continues to grow. It consists of 16 components,including the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal LawEnforcement Training Center and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“It’s a challenging field,” Dave Gilmore, a security consultant, told the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “You’re trying to find out the types of problems you’re dealing with and how to solve these problems in advance . . . but you can’t prepare for every eventuality. You also need to be able to react.”


There are a variety of jobs available through the HomelandSecurity Department, and the level of education and experience required to work in those positions varies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has listed 53accredited programs in Homeland Security on its website under the FEMAInstitute section. The programs offer everything from bachelor degrees to graduate certificate degrees. The level of degree one must acquire will depend greatly on the position they wish to hold within the department.

At a very minimum, a Bachelor Degree in Homeland Security is required for most jobs in the industry. Most bachelor degree programs focus on introducing students to the concept of Homeland Security. They include courses on criminal justice, emergency management, terrorism and public safety.Emphasis also may be placed on coursework covering prevention, response and recovery and intelligence gathering. Most programs also will include courses on cyber terrorism at both a domestic and foreign level and network security.

Those who possess an undergraduate degree in HomelandSecurity can expect to find work as a law enforcement officer in the department, a security guard for state and federal government offices or as customs agents. 

There also are advanced-degree programs available both online and in traditional settings. Often referred to as a Graduate CertificateDegree in Homeland Security or a Certificate Degree in Advanced HomelandSecurity, these programs are designed to be completed by professionals who already may be working in the industry. As such, there is a variety of online degree programs available for advance Homeland Security certification and degrees from which to use.

Advanced degrees in the industry qualify those who possess them to seek employment with or advance existing careers with the HomelandSecurity Department, or for state and local agencies. It also provides skills required to work in emergency response, counterterrorism or security-related positions within the private sector.

Homeland Security is constantly changing, therefore creating the need for those who work in the industry to take advantage of continuing education programs offered both in traditional settings and online. As the face of terrorism changes, so must the skills of those who are serving in the front lines on the war against terror.

In addition to proper education, anyone applying for a position within the Department of Homeland Security must be able to obtain security clearances at a state and federal level, which requires applicants to be U.S. citizens without prior criminal records.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for trained professionals within the Department of Homeland Security is expected to grow between now and 2020.

The average annual salary for a professional in this industry is between $55,000 and $75,500, but those who work in jobs such as counter terrorism and other high-ranking federal positions can expect to earn significantly more.


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