Is a Homeland Security Degree Right for You?

In an effort to increase national security and respond to ongoing terrorist attacks and threats, some colleges now offer homeland security degree programs to draw more people to the field. Most homeland security programs focus on threat analysis, homeland defense, and emergency planning and response.

Students will receive a comprehensive overview of homeland security policies, objectives and countermeasures to offset potential attacks. Students will also learn about the legal and political issues of homeland security, specifically surveillance, personal privacy and redress, citizens’ rights and personal identity verification. They’ll learn how to plan, implement and manage security operations during emergencies to increase protection along U.S. borders and coasts. Homeland security students will be prepared to work at numerous law enforcement and government agencies, including Border Patrol, the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FEMA and the Coast Guard.

Advice for Earning Your Homeland Security Degree Online

Online homeland security programs give students the flexibility to attend school and work while balancing other life demands. A growing call for trained homeland security employees has increased the amount and availability of online homeland security degree programs, which have in turn become more widely accepted and respected within the job market.

Aside from face-to-face instruction, online and traditional homeland security degree programs are very similar. The first and most important step in applying to an online college is checking to make sure it is accredited. Accredited schools are reviewed by organizations that are backed by the U.S. Department of Education, which ensures that the program is being held to strict standards.

Required Courses

Online Homeland Security degree programs include general education classes in math, science, and English, along with major courses that discuss issues in terrorism, security, information technology, disaster recovery, and more. Some required courses could include:

  • Domestic and International Terrorism
  • Emergency Management
  • Intelligence Research
  • Border Security
  • Approaches to Counter-Terrorism

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security include:

Border Patrol Agents

  • Expected Growth: 8%
  • Average Annual Salary: $36,660

Border patrol agents are responsible for preventing people from entering the country illegally. Of particular importance is the threat of human trafficking. Border patrol agents also help maintain the flow of legal entry into the country. They are often tasked with line watches, where they perform surveillance of the border from a covert position, keeping an eye out for undocumented immigrants entering the country.

The yearly salary of a border patrol agent varies, depending on an individual’s education and experience in law enforcement and homeland security. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes.

Emergency Management Directors

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $53,245

Emergency management directors are employed by federal, state, and local agencies where they supervise and coordinate emergency response logistics. Emergency management directors are responsible for design emergency response systems and protocols for a variety of scenarios, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters, depending on their position. Emergency managers can benefit greatly from a bachelor’s degree in homeland security or emergency management. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Military Officers

  • Expected Growth: varies
  • Average Annual Salary: varies

A bachelor’s degree in homeland security can lead to a number of military careers, particularly at the officer level. Military officers in all branches of the military need at least a bachelor’s degree to quality for office training. While a homeland security background is relevant to most military occupations, it is particularly useful in branches charges with home soil operations, like National Guard and the Coast Guard. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Information Security Analysts

  • Expected Growth: 22%
  • Average Annual Salary: $81,565

Information security analysts use their knowledge of computer science, network architecture, and information technology to create security systems for business and organizations. With a background in homeland security, an information security analyst can be employed by government organizations, where they analyze, prevent, and troubleshoot cyber-attacks, as information security is an important concern for national security. Most information security analysts need a bachelor’s degree. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

Law Enforcement Officers and Agents

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $68,820

A degree in homeland security is relevant to a number of law enforcement positions, particularly at the federal level. Law enforcement officials, detectives, investigators working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and others are involved in cases and operations that defend national security. Most law enforcement positions at the federal level require a bachelor’s degree, while many police positions at the local level do not. Figures above were provided by the BLS.


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