5 Top Careers in Homeland Security

Department of Homeland SecurityThe Department of Homeland Security is a massive agency that currently has over 240,000 employees engaged in a variety of different jobs and disciplines. Despite this diversity, all of the department’s efforts are related to protecting the people, institutions and property of the United States. Most homeland security jobs have specific educational requirements based on the position’s area of expertise. While there are many jobs available at Homeland Security, here are the five top career opportunities:

1. Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence analysts assemble disparate pieces of information to form a comprehensive view of issues and events that affect national security and public safety. Most analysts are assigned to divisions that deal with hostile organizations like ISIS or threats like weapons of mass destruction. The main focus of the work relates to the acquisition, assessment and evaluation of intelligence, which includes the interpretation of images, identifying potential targets and locating suspicious individuals. Intelligence agents are also responsible for developing advanced analytical aids including association charts, crime maps, suspect profiles and formal reports. Many Homeland Security intelligence positions require an undergraduate or graduate level degree.

2. Federal Air Marshal

When the Department of Homeland Security was created, it combined 22 separate federal agencies including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The role of the TSA is to provide secure airline travel for passengers and crew members. Federal air marshals are responsible for ensuring the nation’s transportation infrastructure remains safe from hostile threats. These armed, undercover agents ride on passenger airliners to guard against unexpected or hostile in-flight actions. An air marshal usually spends 181 days in the air working five-hour shifts. While on the job, air marshals look for suspicious activity, conduct investigations and assess the surrounding environment. The position requires a degree as well as firearms training.

3. Secret Service Agent

Secret service agents are responsible for protecting sitting presidents, vice-presidents, their families, heads of state, high-profile candidates and other government officials. Former presidents and vice-presidents also receive protection for as long as they live. Agents are involved in criminal investigations that affect the federal government, including financial fraud, counterfeiting crimes, identity theft, cybercrime and money laundering schemes. The Secret Service is generally recognized as the nation’s most elite law enforcement agency. The path to becoming a secret service agent is challenging, and prospective employees must have a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of graduate education in criminal justice or a related field.

4. Immigration Enforcement Agent

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a department within Homeland Security that is responsible for curtailing illegal immigration and preventing the trafficking of illegal goods into the U.S. ICE agents are assigned to either customs issues or immigration issues that relate to border patrol, exploitation of children, cyber crimes, intelligence gathering and human trafficking. They are involved in the deportation process for criminals and certain illegal immigrants and conduct surveillance on individuals suspected of customs or immigration violations. Much of the work done by an ICE agent is in cooperation with other departments, including the FBI and Border Patrol. The position requires a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of graduate-level study.

5. Forensics

Forensics in the Department of Homeland Security encompasses a number of disciplines. Clinical forensics helps identify possible suspects involved in a security threat. Psychological forensics is the science of profile building for unknown individuals who present a significant risk to the security of the U.S., including those who use the internet to promote terrorism. Those in forensics also work on forgery, counterfeiting and other crimes requiring detailed analysis of handwriting, printing and mechanical impressions. Entry into the field requires a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of applicable experience.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Homeland Security Degree Programs

Diverse Career Opportunities at Homeland Security

For those looking for a fulfilling career at Homeland Security, formal education is a must. The field of national security is rapidly evolving, and numerous colleges and universities now offer Homeland Security degree programs that help prepare students for the challenges of investigating domestic terrorism, immigration violations, cybercrime and a host of other activities that threaten our way of life.