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Ever since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the field of Homeland Security has risen to the forefront for those seeking impactful careers dealing with the protection of the country. Although full degree programs are not yet widespread, hundreds of colleges and universities offer certificates in emergency preparedness, counter-terrorism, and security. Many universities also offer concentrations in Homeland Security. Such concentrations may include certification in crisis and disaster management, telecommunications, or national security. Furthermore, many universities offer programs geared towards the law enforcement side of Homeland Security.

What Is Homeland Security?

Homeland Security includes protection against domestic and foreign terrorism as well as emergency prevention and management. Emergency prevention deals with the mitigation of crises such as natural and man-made disasters. Similarly, planning for emergency management offers an overview of all the hazards that could potentially unfold within an area, and is something that all countries must complete as a safety measure. Homeland Security programs usually covers a broad range of topics, from crisis mitigation to response and recovery. Universities that lack programs specifically in Homeland Security may instead place an emphasis on Homeland Security within their Emergency Management or Criminal Justice programs by focusing on the infrastructure, policies and practices of Homeland Security.

What Skills Can I Acquire With a Degree In Homeland Security?

Concepts covered in a typical program may include crisis management, theft prevention, border security, as well as extensive training in quick decision making. Classes are often designed to help students learn essential skills such as negotiation and disarmament, allowing for practical use in the protection of not just the nation, but also schools, government agencies, families, and other institutions. Upon completion of this degree, students may have a greater understanding of the policies, law, and structure of Homeland Security within the United States.

What Are The Degree Requirements?

For a certification program, the requirements depend on the concentration or specialization of study. However, for full degree programs, mandatory classes may include:

  • Crisis management
  • Ethics
  • Forensic Science
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Justice
  • Safety, Prevention and Preparedness
  • Response and Recovery
  • Domestic Terrorism
  • Cyber-terrorism
  • Bio-terrorism
  • Counter-terrorism
  • Natural Disaster Management
  • Emergency Planning

Furthermore, some programs may include mandatory requirements in the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, or communications. Field experience is almost always incorporated into homeland security degree programs. Such fieldwork can include experience working with law enforcement, military, or others in the homeland security profession.

What to Do with a Homeland Security Degree?

Those with a degree in Homeland Security are by no means restricted in terms of available employment opportunities, but instead may continue on to a variety of career paths. Many choose to work for local law enforcement, the federal government, private companies, or nonprofit organizations. Examples of employment opportunities that may be available for those with a Homeland Security degree include (but are not limited to):

  • Border patrol officer
  • Police officer
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Firefighter
  • Hazardous material removal worker
  • Transportation security screener
  • Emergency management director or specialist

Those who have a Homeland Security degree may also go on to work for the Department of Homeland Security through any of it’s various agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Obtaining any of these security positions within the federal government requires valid U.S. citizenship.

Getting an Online Homeland Security Degree

There are many programs that offer online Homeland Security degrees. An online degree can prove a superior option than the traditional college setting, allowing for flexibility and convenience. Most online classes have an online adviser who assists students with any concerns regarding the class material. Depending on the program, some classes may incorporate participation into the course. Furthermore, in some cases students may by able to partake in live classes through a high speed Internet connection. Although online courses typically do not allow for face-to-face discussion and the lively debate that may be typical of traditional college settings, many find that the benefits of convenience outweigh these minor drawbacks. Furthermore, some online programs may offer independent studies or capstone projects that allow students to research into a particular area of Homeland Security extensively.

Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual wages for homeland security professionals typically range from $37,000 for transportation security screeners to approximately $60,000 for emergency management directors. Pay depends on a variety of factors including experience, role, and location, making an accurate salary estimate difficult to make.

Homeland Security is an area of study that has expanded greatly in the past decade as more and more universities have begun to offer degree and certificate programs. A career in Homeland Security often proves to be a rewarding field, as many go on to protect communities on a local, state, or national level. For anyone who is excited by the prospect of protecting their country from potential threats and managing crises, a degree in Homeland Security may be the right choice.

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