Homeland security that was popularized by the Claire Danes-starring TV series, Homeland, is an exciting field. If managing disasters by identifying and preventing security risks is something that you think you’ll do well in, a career in homeland security may be the right line of work for you.
Though homeland security is largely associated with terrorism, the work includes other emergency situations too. Homeland security encompasses handling a variety of disasters from medical responses to super hurricanes to counterterrorism actions such as containing cyber warfare. Homeland security workers are usually involved in securing areas such as airports, borders, waterways, and other hubs that are sensitive because they could facilitate the movement of terrorists. Some broad areas of work are emergency management, cybersecurity, intelligence, and law enforcement.
It is a demanding career because professionals in this field are intelligent and need to think on their feet and possess excellent analytical skills. Hence, qualified professionals are in great demand. Job opportunities exist within the Department of Homeland Security as well as federal agencies including FBI, Emergency Management Agency, and customs. As the demand for qualified professionals grows, many programs are available online and on campus for individuals interested in entering this field and establishing their careers as homeland security professionals.
Understanding your strengths and areas of interest will help you choose the right program. The programs vary accordingly, that is, if policy-making is your area of interest, you can expect a course that is heavily into legislation and subjects that inform policy-making. If you want to be a part of emergency teams, the course may include practical applications that will help develop skills that are needed for an emergency response.
You can take up different programs depending on your interest and how best they meet your needs. The degrees are available in different levels such as graduate certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree.
If you want to develop expertise in a specific area, certificated programs in those areas such as emergency management will help you. It will complement your other degrees and strengthen your profile. The duration of certificate programs can vary.
Associate degrees are typically two years long and they cover subjects at an introductory level such as policy and law, emergency response planning, and criminal justice. With an associate’s degree in homeland security, you can join a homeland security agency at entry-level positions.
A bachelor’s degree in homeland security is generally a four-year program with 120 credits. Apart from general coursework, you can also choose a concentration such as emergency planning, domestic terrorism, infrastructure security, cybercrime, and research. Other subjects that you could explore include ethical hacking, business law, organizational leadership, and mobile security. A bachelor’s degree will also require the completion of a project or internship.
When you enter a master’s program, the coursework is more focused and it will help you develop your expertise in specific areas. The coursework will be more intense than what is available at the bachelor’s level. As with a bachelor’s degree, the course culminates with a project or internship. A master’s degree will make it possible to ask for higher pay and secure higher positions.
While there aren’t doctorate degrees specifically in homeland security, you can acquire a degree in subjects that are related to homeland security such as public administration. More research-oriented, a doctorate degree requires a dissertation.
While these degrees are available in online, on-campus, and hybrid formats, some courses such as emergency response may require you to participate in person as it requires you to learn and demonstrate hands-on techniques.