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10 Types of Homeland Security Careers Worth Considering


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) works to improve and strengthen national security through a range of different efforts. It was established when more than 20 distinct federal agencies integrated into one unified department — agencies related to customs, border patrol, immigration enforcement, antiterrorism, cybersecurity, emergency disaster relief and more.

Each department plays an integral role contributing to the vital mission of the DHS: to secure the nation from the many threats it faces.

With so many critical agencies and departments operating under the DHS umbrella, there are multiple unique career paths you could pursue. If you’re passionate about the prospect of using your knowledge and skills to aid in national security efforts, you might consider one of the following homeland security careers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection building exterior

10 Types of Homeland Security Jobs

Each department within the DHS offers up its own variety of possible career paths. Employees of Homeland Security help accomplish an assortment of important tasks, such as securing national borders, airports, seaports and waterways; researching and developing the latest security technologies; responding to natural disasters or terrorist assaults; and analyzing intelligence reports.
Among the 22 distinct sectors of the DHS, many of the most common homeland security careers fall into these ten component agencies:

1. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads strategic efforts to strengthen the security and resilience of the nation’s cyber ecosystem. Employees within this sector of the DHS work to detect and mitigate any evolving threats to our critical infrastructure. 
There are a handful of different career opportunities within the CISA: 

There are also CISA career opportunities related to stakeholder engagement, integrated operations and mission support.

Image of a public affairs specialist being interviewed on camera in front of several flags

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

2. Citizenship and Immigration Services

As the federal agency that administers immigration benefits for the country, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) aims to help uphold America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity and respect for all it serves. 
By assisting people around the globe who seek to immigrate to the U.S. in hopes of gaining family connection, humanitarian protection, and/or employment and business opportunities, the daily work of USCIS employees impacts millions of lives. 
Consider the following career paths within USCIS:

There are additional USCIS career opportunities for IT specialists, human resources professionals, and program and project managers.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

3. Customs and Border Protection

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations. It operates with the goal of facilitating lawful international travel and trade, while focusing on counter terrorism and transnational crime.

CBP takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security and agricultural protection into one coordinated effort. The organization is made up of multiple different departments, each of which offers its own suite of career possibilities:

There are also a number of behind-the-scenes CBP career opportunities for IT specialists, budget analysts, engineers, international relations specialists and more.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

4. Emergency Management Agency

Employees in the Emergency Management sector of the DHS comprise a team of leaders who support people and communities by providing critical assistance before, during and after disasters. These dedicated emergency management professionals work collaboratively to share experiences and resources to better equip the U.S. to respond to and recover from the nation’s greatest moments of crisis.

There are fifteen different sectors of federal emergency management work, with a range of distinct career possibilities in each. Those departments include: 

Because of the range of responsibilities covered by this sector of the DHS, the expertise maintained by emergency management professionals is vast. Individuals may work in collaboration with professionals in other fields to help support the country’s critical infrastructure and protect key resources. For that reason, those in emergency management may be trained in the following areas: 

In addition to permanent full-time positions, there are many emergency management roles open to contractors, with both public and private sector opportunities.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

5. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

The core purpose of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) is to prepare the community agents and officers who are charged with safeguarding America’s people, property and institutions. The organization provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals so that they’re able to fulfill their federal responsibilities safely and proficiently.

The FLETC is committed to a collaborative, comprehensive and responsible approach to administering this critical training. As such, there is an assortment of instructor roles throughout the department in specialty areas like:

Additionally, the FLETC seeks out skilled professionals to fill specialist roles in training admissions, contract compliance and human resources.

Learn more about degree programs related to these jobs:

6. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Those who work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) commit to the mission of protecting America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration in an effort to preserve national security and public safety. The agency focuses on legal, safe immigration enforcement, terrorism prevention and combating transnational criminal threats.

There are numerous career opportunities for law enforcement agents within ICE, but you can also consider the following opportunities:

ICE also employs professionals in management and administrative positions, including mission support specialists and program analysts.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

Undergraduate Certificate in Emergency Management

7. Transportation Security Administration

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to protect the nation’s transportation systems, ensuring freedom of movement for people and commerce. The agency originated as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in an effort to prevent similar threats from impacting America in the future.

Transportation security officers (TSOs) serve as the backbone of the TSA, representing the public face of the agency to millions of travelers daily. These officials are responsible for providing security and protection to travelers across all transportation sectors in a manner that is both courteous and professional. Additionally, TSOs may be tasked with securing high-profile events, important figures and/or anything that includes or impacts U.S. transportation systems.

There are also career opportunities within the TSA related to mission support and Federal Air Marshal services.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

8. U.S. Coast Guard

Most people are familiar with the U.S. Coast Guard as being one of America’s six armed forces; however, they may not know that it is the only branch that operates within the DHS. From search and rescue to law enforcement and coastal defense, Coast Guard missions are vital to national security and global humanitarian initiatives.

There are multiple career paths within this branch of the DHS, including the following:

There are also a number of civilian careers that support the U.S. Coast Guard, including professional occupations like accounting, law and civil engineering. Additional administrative opportunities include roles like intelligence analysts, criminal investigators and security specialists. And there is a range of trade positions, such as aircraft mechanics, electricians, welders and materials handlers.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

9. U.S. Secret Service

The U.S. Secret Service operates with an integrated mission of protection and financial investigations to ensure the safety and security of its protectees, key locations and events of national significance. Additionally, the agency works to safeguard the integrity of the nation’s currency and investigate crimes against the U.S. financial system.

The organization is comprised of the following types of officials:

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

10. Federal Protective Service

As an organization, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) works to ensure safe and secure environments for federal workers in approximately 9,500 facilities nationwide. The agency is the premier provider of security and law enforcement services at U.S. government facilities, playing an important role in the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Federal Protective Service inspectors maintain a range of duties to accomplish this goal. They conduct security assessments and design security countermeasures to mitigate risks at federal facilities, and they provide visible law enforcement presence at such locations — at times overseeing contract security teams.

FPS inspectors may also lead special operations, such as explosive detection k-9 initiatives. And they are, at times, involved with criminal investigations regarding threats to federal employees.

With a presence in every state and territory, FPS professionals make it their mission to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism and other hazards threatening the federal government’s essential services.

Learn more about certificate and degree programs related to these jobs:

Pursue Your Ideal Homeland Security Career

There are numerous homeland security careers you could pursue within the Department, and each operates according to the same overarching mission: to preserve the safety and prosperity of America and its people. If you can envision yourself dedicating your career to this pursuit, you might thrive in one of the many DHS careers listed above.

There is a wide variety of certificate and degree paths you could pursue in your quest to become qualified for one of these jobs. But if you’re unsure of the particular sector of homeland security in which you’d like to work, you can begin to build the foundation of knowledge and skills you’ll need by studying security and strategic intelligence.

At Saint Louis University (SLU), students study trends in intelligence-gathering surrounding critical topics like terrorism, homeland security and cybercrime while learning the industry best practices and critical thinking skills needed to be effective.

Learn more about the possibilities by visiting one of SLU’s dynamic program offerings:

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