What is a Security Specialist in Homeland Security?

A security specialist in Homeland Security is in charge of creating, executing and monitoring emergency response and preparedness programs. They must immediately respond to and mitigate the disastrous threats of natural disasters, such as tornados and earthquakes, and man-made disasters, such as terrorist attacks and infrastructure malfunctions. Although most work for federal or state agencies, some are consultants employed by private security corporations.

What are Their Duties?

Depending on their exact position, a security specialist in Homeland Security may have very unique duties. For instance, one may spend their time planning for contingencies through collaborating with emergency management agencies to create comprehensive response plans. This will include seeking and cultivating relationships with government agencies and private organizations.

Some security specialists will work in the field responding to emergencies by setting up shelters, overseeing search and rescue operations or coordinating emergency health care services. Still, others may only work in offices as they work with information security and technology professionals to protect sensitive data and information systems. Finally, some work with law enforcement to apprehend criminals in airports, transit hubs and border inspection stations.

What are the Job Requirements?

Anyone interested in working in Homeland Security will need a bachelor’s degree in a major related to law enforcement or emergency management. Many Homeland Security specialists have experience in the military or as police or security officers. Candidates must be physically fit and pass a physical test prior to being considered for employment. Candidates must have high levels of integrity, maturity and responsibility.

During the interview, job applications must be able to demonstrate that they are timely, organized and customer service oriented. They must simultaneously work well independently and in team settings. Being adaptable, flexible and comfortable dealing with ambiguity and hostile situations is a must. Those who lack government experience will need to expand their education related to topics like terrorism, crisis planning, risk assessments and disaster recovery operations.

What is Their Education?

Security specialists must have at least a bachelor’s degree to get an interview, but most will have a master’s degree in a related field. A degree in Homeland Security touches on everything from fire technology to computer security to law enforcement topics. An introductory class to the Department of Homeland Security will examine assigned roles, response methods and current issues.

A class on critical infrastructure will identify and evaluate the critical infrastructure systems that are often security targets. Emergency communications management classes allow students to study how public safety communication systems interact. Training in emergency contingency planning will enable students to develop and implement strategic plans for private industries and public agencies. Students with limited time and resources may consider a graduate certificate program or apply for online, independent study through FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI).

Related Resource: Criminal Justice Management

A security specialist in homeland security who desires to focus on information technology should pursue a degree in cyber-security or information assurance. They can prepare for their job by monitoring and identifying emerging technology threats and keeping corporate environments safe from cyber threats and attacks. Familiarity with company’s disaster recovery policies and business continuity planning will also help.