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Homeland Security

Although we tend to think of homeland security as being a new initiative since 9/11, in fact the Department of Homeland Security is the consolidation of some 22 agencies, which were fragmented Federal functions. The Department of Homeland Security creates a unified initiative to protect America from the threat of terrorism.

Homeland security will be a part of our culture for the foreseeable future, and will give good career opportunities. If this is an area you are interested in, higher education will help you to build the career you want.

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Protect and Serve with a Career in Homeland Security
Graduates of homeland security degree and certificate programs can be found in a range of careers both within and outside the government.

Earning a degree in homeland security can open more doors than you might think. While homeland security likely inspires images of government work, the budding industry spans a wide range of private sector careers.

"I'd say there's not an industry or business out there today that's not impacted by homeland security," Rich Cooper, business liaison director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, told Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Whether you want to work on the front lines of the war on terror or in the background infrastructure, careers in homeland security offer you the challenge you seek.

Average Federal Homeland Security Salaries
Government jobs within the Department of Homeland Security vary, from Coast Guard engineers to customs agents, law enforcement specialists to immigration officers. Here are a few average annual salaries for full-time workers in Federal government homeland security positions:

•    Border patrol agent: $63,550
•    Air traffic controller: $72,049
•    Criminal investigating: $88,174
•    Customs agent: $59,248

In addition to base pay, Federal employees may receive cash awards up to $25,000 for sustained high job performance or a special act of service. No career training program can guarantee a particular career or salary, of course, but hiring managers for competitive Federal jobs may prefer or require the formal training provided by a degree in homeland security.

Homeland Security Careers Outside the Federal Government
Private companies often partner with the government to provide goods and services under the heading of homeland security. Training in the field may qualify you for jobs in the private sector, which encompasses non-profit and for-profit groups. Here are just a few popular careers for trained homeland security professionals:

•    Security consultants
•    Private security
•    Teachers/researchers
•    Emergency management professionals

Training for Homeland Security Careers
Since the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created in 2001, training programs have evolved to meet the specialized needs of workers in the field. Required training varies widely by career--border patrol agents, for example, typically need a bachelor's degree, one year of qualifying experience, or a combination of education and experience.

More technical careers may require a bachelor's degree, while careers focusing more on physical security duties may only require coursework or an associate degree level of training. Typical coursework in a homeland security training program may include the following topics:

•    Disaster response
•    Psychology & crisis negotiation
•    Conflict resolution
•    Hazardous materials & weaponry

Research individual careers in the field to learn more about suggested training and coursework. Many degree programs cover a broad spectrum of homeland security issues, but some careers may require specific technical training.

Benefits of a Career in Homeland Security
Careers in homeland security may be hazardous, stressful, and difficult, and workers often take note of the unpredictable schedule, though many appreciate the variety. "It's the diversity of each day that's the best part of the job," says State Emergency Management Director and Homeland Security Director Art Cleaves.

If you can rise to the challenge presented by a homeland security career, you'll derive real job satisfaction from the knowledge that your actions make the nation safer every day.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Government
"Careers in Homeland Security," by Elka Jones for Occupational Outlook Quarterly (pdf)