Over the past decade, a homeland security degree has become a good way to provide the skills and knowledge needed to get the top jobs in the industry.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, homeland security has become a growing field for those who work in intelligence, law enforcement, information technology and other related occupations.
When the term “homeland security” comes up, most people think of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That agency, formed in the wake of the terrorist attacks, does employ thousands and will have a $40 billion budget in 2017.
However, homeland security jobs exist in other federal agencies as well, particularly in the area of cyber security. Also, private companies increasingly need both security and technology professionals to provide protection against attacks.
A homeland security degree can prepare you for success in many different fields. Here is a look at some of them.
This is the fastest-growing area of concern when it comes to protecting the homeland. Cyber security involves creating software that protects computer files as well as the ability to detect incoming threats. To give some perspective on the enormity of the issue, the United States government had 77,000 cyber-attacks in 2015, including data thefts and security breaches, according to Newsweek.
Jobs in information technology extend beyond just government agencies. Many larger companies also hire people to keep customer data safe from cyberattacks.
A homeland security degree can help you prepare for a job in information technology. The number of jobs in this area will increase by 18 percent from 2014 t0 2024, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, much faster than the average of 7 percent for all occupations.
Information security professionals made a median salary of $90,120 in May 2015, according to the BLS.
Law Enforcement and Security
The area of law enforcement in homeland security covers many fields. For example, those who work in protection services guard important leaders including the president, vice president, heads of state and their families.
The U.S. Border Patrol also hires officers to patrol and safeguard the country’s borders. This is particularly true for the border the U.S. shares with Mexico.
While the BLS does not break out individual occupations in this area, overall they report that the job prospects “are projected to be excellent.” Those with a homeland security degree can better qualify themselves for the top jobs in law enforcement and security.
A growing number of people work in intelligence gathering with the goal of protecting the country from terrorists both within and outside the U.S.
Many in this area of homeland security work as special FBI agents or for the Secret Service and Central Intelligence Agency. The job can involve many different skill sets, from those of a detective to the ability to mine useful information from large amounts of data.
FBI agent salaries are set by the government pay grades. The CIA publishes salaries for job openings. A counterintelligence threat analyst, for example, makes between $51,000 and $76,000 as a starting salary.
ONET Online, a job information site provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, reports that the median salary in 2015 for all criminal investigators and special agents was $77,210.
Immigration and Travel Security
The Transportation Security Administration provides security efforts at airports. Those positions involve not only the officers that you see, but those who oversee airport security operations, often working behind the scenes. Salaries vary depending on the job. For example, security screeners make $39,310 while security managers make more than $104,000, according to ONET Online.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents enforce the country’s laws on both immigration and the import and export of goods. Because of the wide-ranging aspects of the job, an ICE agent can work to secure borders, prevent human trafficking, gather intelligence and enforce deportation of illegal aliens.
The median salary for immigration and customs inspectors was $77,210 in 2015, according to ONET Online.
These jobs represent just a few of the areas in which you can launch a career by earning a homeland security degree. This wide-ranging and growing field offers many different opportunities for people with a variety of skills and interests.