Graduates who earn a bachelor’s in homeland security can enter a wide array of fields beyond government. Homeland security encompasses many disciplines, including computer security, law enforcement, intelligence, emergency management, and border security. The field is relatively new, giving graduates the opportunity to establish an exciting and growing career.
An online bachelor’s degree in homeland security prepares graduates for a number of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts are in-demand, with a projected 28% job growth rate. Teaching at the postsecondary level also outpaces many other occupations for expected growth. Police and detectives continue to add jobs at a steady pace, and emergency management directors maintain as-fast-as average growth. Due to national threats, the demand for homeland security professionals will likely remain strong.
Due to its interdisciplinary nature, homeland security prepares students for a wide array of careers. Students may work in cybersecurity, take a job as a professor, enlist in the Coast Guard, join Border Patrol, or earn a master’s in emergency management. Salaries vary as well. High-demand occupations, like computer security, offer high wages. Students may also enter an entry-level position at the Transportation Security Administration. While a degree does not guarantee a job, graduates who earn a homeland security bachelor’s degree online often find exciting and well-paying positions.
Emergency management directors plan and respond to natural and man-made disasters. They set up plans in case of disastrous events. They also create training regimens, coordinate agencies, and work with local governments to ensure that everything runs smoothly in the event of a disaster.
Information security analysts work in public and private sector offices, monitoring computer networks for threats and attacks. They design and maintain networks, test networks against threats, and prepare attack responses. They develop protocols for employees, set up digital encryption, prepare reports, and present findings to management.
Homeland security graduates often move into positions in the military. The Coast Guard, for example, is considered a branch of the DHS. Careers in the military vary dramatically. Some personnel work in offices, garages, or aboard ships. A bachelor’s in homeland security can prepare individuals for officer level training, a career patrolling the nation’s ports, or analyzing intel as part of naval intelligence.
Transportation security screeners report to the Transportation Security Administration, the department of the DHS that is responsible for keeping airports and other facilities safe. They check baggage, scan passengers, and operate security machinery to make sure everything complies with TSA rules. They search for contraband, weapons, drugs, and stolen goods, ensuring the safety of passengers. Some may gather intelligence and investigate breaches.
Homeland security salaries vary depending upon many factors, and demand for homeland security professionals impacts wages. Cost of living can also affect what people earn. Emergency management directors provide a good example of cost of living. The annual mean wage in California, the state with the highest demand for homeland security professionals, doubles that of Maine, where the need is far less.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field, bachelor’s in homeland security courses vary by each school. Some schools build their homeland security degree into their criminal justice or emergency management programs. Others offer areas of concentration or specializations, like terrorism or cybersecurity. Most schools feature a curriculum that includes courses like those listed below. Make sure to check each school for specific classes, electives, and core requirements.
The attacks of 9/11 fundamentally changed national security in the United States. This course explores the changes the nation has seen in security and the methods government agencies use to protect the country from further attack.
The United States has long been held as an example of freedom. National security needs sometimes come into conflict with traditions like privacy and free speech. In this class, students study the policy implications of national defense.
How do we best keep the nation safe from terrorism? By understanding terrorists, their motivations and methods. This course looks at the use of terror as a political tool through history and into the present.
This course instructs students in the various ways government agencies prepare for, respond to, and recover from man-made and natural disasters. Topics include first response, agency coordination, public information, and working with local governments.
Students learn the various ways national defense agencies gather intelligence, interpret data, and use information. Subjects include the nation’s various law enforcement and national security agencies, methods for data collection, analysis of intel, and the sharing and dissemination of information.
Since the founding of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002, homeland security degree programs have proliferated. Dozens of schools now offer quality programs in the field, and selecting among them requires some research. Cost and reputation are the most obvious considerations. Don’t forget to take into account factors like accreditation, quality of faculty, and areas of specialty. Pay close attention to each program’s requirements for graduation.
Homeland security programs often combine with other disciplines or feature concentrations. Some universities offer homeland security programs as a specialization within criminal justice or emergency management programs. Common concentrations in homeland security include terrorism, emergency management, intelligence, and cybersecurity. Schools that do not offer specific concentrations often allow students to create their own areas of focus to meet career goals.
Most universities design their online homeland security programs for completion entirely through the internet, though some require internships or field practicums. Most programs give students the option of completing a capstone or thesis project rather than an internship. The Department of Homeland Security offers undergraduates the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the field through several summer internships.
Most online homeland security programs require four years of full-time study. Several online schools have an accelerated schedule; however, allowing students to work asynchronously and move at their own pace. Other schools offer master’s-in-five programs that take a little longer, but give students the added bonus of a graduate degree.
A bachelor’s degree in homeland security opens a variety of career pathways to students. An undergraduate degree allows you to apply for most positions in the Department of Homeland Security and meets or exceeds the basic educational requirements for many national law enforcement training agencies, such as the Border Patrol, FBI, and NSA. A degree prepares you for careers in emergency management, criminal justice, and counterterrorism, and also sets you up for further study at the graduate level.
Unlike other majors with their own accreditation agencies, homeland security does not have a field-specific accreditation. The Department of Homeland Security recognizes several universities as “centers of excellence” in certain areas, such as maritime security or cybersecurity. Make sure the school you decide to attend carries accreditation from one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Many towns, community agencies, charities, and corporations offer scholarship opportunities. These organizations often award scholarships according to specific criteria, including community service, letters of recommendation, and leadership potential. Scholarships can help finance an education, and, unlike loans, you don’t have to pay them back.
The AFCEA awards this scholarship to students in the second year of an undergraduate program in a STEM discipline related to cybersecurity intelligence and Homeland Security. Recipients must maintain U.S. residency and hold a current 3.0 GPA or higher. AFCEA accepts candidates from online programs. Students must provide official transcripts and at least two letters of recommendation for consideration. Applications must arrive by April 12, 2019.
Dispersed by the Lint Center for National Security Studies, this scholarship for $1,500 helps undergraduates pay for their education in subjects related to national security. Intended for use toward tuition and books, the scholarship also offers a one-year mentorship with a current or former national security professional. The Lint Center selects students based on an essay about the importance of national security and international relations. Submissions after July 31, 2019 will not qualify.
Sponsored by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, this award can total up to $4,000. Awards go to undergraduates in the fields of counterintelligence, homeland security, counterterrorism, and related disciplines. Candidates must attend an accredited U.S. university and demonstrate a history of coursework in national affairs, intelligence, and security studies. They must intend to pursue work in national security upon graduation.
Named for a Bronze Star recipient who worked in counterintelligence, these $1,000 awards go to students in programs related to intelligence, national security, and cultural understanding. The award is for tuition and books. Distributed by the Lint Center for National Security Studies, the scholarship requires a 600-800 word essay on the candidate’s feelings about counterintelligence, national security, and alliance building. Applications must reach Lint by January 31, 2019.
Offered since 1988 to help women enter the field of national security, the WID scholarship is awarded to applicants who have already earned 60 or more credits toward a degree in a national-security related field. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, attend school full time or part time, demonstrate financial need, have a 3.25 GPA or higher, and intend to pursue a career in national defense. Scholarships take into account academic achievement, work experience, service to national security, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.