From sporting events to terrorist attacks, homeland security professionals play an integral role in maintaining Americans’ quality of life and preserving the freedoms we hold dear. Their efforts greatly enhance personal security, while also ensuring the most efficient and effective response possible to any security threats that arise.
What Homeland Security Professionals Do
Job duties vary considerably. Intelligence analysts identify potential threats, while contract specialists purchase goods and services to aid with disaster relief. Emergency management specialists develop relief plans and apply for funding as necessary. Those who work in border patrol prevent terrorists and weapons from entering the country, while also facilitating the flow of legal immigrants and possessions.
Often, those who aspire to work in homeland security seek employment directly with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This huge government entity aims to secure the nation from a variety of threats. Other homeland security employees may work with border security, cyber security, emergency response, or even aviation. Work is available in a variety of geographic locations, although many find themselves employed along the border or at DHS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Although often employed directly by the Department of Homeland Security, professionals in this rapidly growing field may also work with other government entities or directly with businesses. Most work full-time government positions, but contractors and consultants are increasingly common.
Job Outlook and Salary
Job growth remains strong in homeland security and related fields. The Department of Homeland Security alone employs over 240,000 individuals, and there are jobs available outside of DHS. Salary ranges considerably based on the employee’s education, experience, and niche area. The Houston Chronicle reports that newly-hired border security agents earn between $38,619 and $49,029 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights an annual median salary of $70,500 for emergency management directors. Emergency management maintains an average job outlook; employment opportunities are most promising for intelligence analysts, who also command high salaries.
How Undergraduate and Graduate Education Can Help
An undergraduate degree is often vital to success in the homeland security field. Many aspiring homeland security professionals study criminal justice or political science, but those looking for an edge in a very competitive career path may opt for a Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. This program offers valuable training in risk assessment, emergency preparedness, crisis decision-making, and criminal procedure. Students emerge with a clear understanding of the principles of security and emergency management, plus the ability to communicate effectively with key stakeholders in their chosen field.
Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree, aspiring homeland security employees often move on to graduate school. Master’s degrees either focus entirely on homeland security or emphasize it as a concentration. Some programs allow students to narrow their focus to such niche areas as biosecurity or public health preparedness. Graduates find it easier to compete for the most lucrative and personally fulfilling jobs, some of which are not available without graduate-level education.
If you’re determined to promote greater security and protect the many freedoms we enjoy at home and abroad, you could be an excellent candidate for a career in homeland security. Whether you work directly for the Department of Homeland Security or in a consulting capacity, your efforts will help keep your friends, family members, and neighbors safe.