When someone thinks of homeland security careers, they often think of the guy that used to move the threat level to various degrees of the color wheel. However, the reality is much different and diverse than that. With so many divisions in the Department of Homeland Security, there are many career paths available to applicants from high school students to those who have completed graduate school.
With literally thousands of choices available, it can be surprising to see just who and what the DHS and related agencies are looking for. To prove it, we have included the top 20 fascinating homeland security careers listed mostly by current average salary. They range from everything from the subject of films to canine handlers with a serious task to perform.
Top Fascinating Homeland Security Careers With a Degree
These careers require at least a four year degree or beyond.
- Malware Analyst
Everyone hates malware, but if you really do there is a career possibility in homeland security for you. They are tasked with identifying and removing malicious software from vital systems. Applicants are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree but can often be asked for a master’s or higher in computer security or related field. Certification is often required, but Indeed reports the current average salary for a senior malware analyst as $90,000.
- Forensic Document Examiner
Take on counterfeiting, forgery, and other related crimes in this career. The FDE often examines handwriting, hand printing, and mechanical impressions to verify a document’s validity or rule it a forgery. The career involves a bachelor’s degree and two years of practical experience. Salary averages at $87,178.
- Intelligence Analyst
These security professionals piece together bits of information to form integrated views on issues of national security and public safety. They can often be assigned to particular divisions such as China, weapons of mass destruction, Al Qaeda, etc. While most positions require an undergraduate or graduate level degree, there are some options available for high school graduates. While pay varies in rank and title of job, many intelligence analysts can be paid well into the $80,000 per year range.
- Federal Air Marshal
Often the subject of films, federal air marshals are responsible not only for the security of aircraft but for national security as it pertains to all aspects of transportation and the country’s critical infrastructure. In addition to degree requirements, which vary by position, marshals are often required to fly for much of the year and be proficient in firearms. Pay ranges from about $40,000 per year all the way up to $90,000, with $65,000 being the average.
- Deportation Officer
We all hear about illegal immigrants being deported, but who actually does the deporting? In this position, officers are required to conduct legal research to support deportation, work with other law enforcement agencies, ensure the removal of aliens, and conduct relevant investigations. A master’s degree or doctorate is required and the salary for this position is about $64,000.
- Postal Inspector
This homeland security career is charged with protecting the national mail system. Language skills, postal experience, specialized non-postal skills, and academic achievement all can make candidates stand out in addition to the four year accredited degree they require. If hired as a postal inspector, salary can average at $62,000 per year.
- NCIS Special Agent
Although television is likely to contain more fiction than fact, there actually is a Naval Criminal Investigative Service that hires special agents. World travel, law enforcement, and many other challenges are taken on by these agents. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, a Top Secret Security Clearance, and are not required to enlist in the Navy, although preference is given. This site lists the average salary at $54,000 per year.
- Mission Support Specialist
If you prefer more of a desk job in homeland security, click here. The mission support specialist is tasked with applying administrative concepts, developing new work methods, and delivering briefings on the progress of these administrative functions. A bachelor’s degree and one year of specialized experience is required. The salary for this job is about $50,000.
- Acquisition Professional Career Program
If you are more of a numbers kind of person, there are options for you within homeland security. These professionals are required to be recent college graduates and can choose to pursue one of six career paths from contract specialists that take in business majors to information technology specialists who work on IT related contacts. The salary starts at $49,209 with promotion potential from $89,033 to $115,742, annually.
- IRS Special Agent
Do you hate those who hate paying taxes? There’s a career for that. While most tax evaders can be brought to justice with audits and the like, there are special agents who actually work like police that enforce tax laws. Applicants for a special agent of the IRS must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree and be under the age of 37. According to this site, salary for IRS special agents can range from $26,264 per year to $51,738, which averages at $39,001.
Top Fascinating Homeland Security Careers Without a Degree
Even though a college degree may be preferred, many of these homeland security jobs can be won with a high school diploma or less.
- Explosives Detection Canine Handler
Part of the TSA, this job involves securing many modes of transportation including airports, train stations, etc. In addition to passing the regular background checks a security job involves, such as criminal history and drug testing, applicants must also complete the Basic Aviation Security Inspections Course and Canine Handler Training Course. Previous experience in related areas is preferred, but individuals who do get accepted into this job can expect a salary of $68,129 to $105,658 per year.
- Chemical Security Inspector
If you want to combine a love of science with a love of homeland security, check out this job. The blogger at Chemical Facility Security News tells more about the positions, including that they are required to perform certain essential duties in close proximity to large quantities of the most hazardous chemicals and chemical production processes in the world. Educational requirements are not specified, but Indeed has the average salary at $79,000.
- Disaster Assistance Employee
Did you see the disaster after Hurricane Katrina and think “I can do better?” Then prove it by taking on this career from FEMA. This employee works on an on-call, intermittent basis for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in times of emergency or disaster. Candidates are required to be able to pick and leave within hours of notice and stay away for 30 days or more. Compensation ranges from $11.29 to $42.03 per hour, which translates into an average of $55,452 per year.
- Transportation Security Officer
The main duties of this job include securing travel and protecting people. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for this job is $55,000 per year but differs depending on location of job. They also provide a forum where many go to discuss finding and applying for the job.
- Uniformed Division Officer
Work for the Secret Service in this career in protection of the White House, Vice President, and other federal offices. Applicants must have at least a high school diploma, be between ages 21 and 40, and have excellent eye sight. New officers have a starting salary of $52,018, and you can learn more on their official site.
- Border Patrol Agent
If you are fluent in Spanish and want a career in homeland security, click here. Border patrol agents prevent terrorists from entering the U.S., detect entry of aliens, and apprehend those in violation of the law. A background check, medical examination, and fitness test are all required. Base salary is $38,619 to $49,029 depending on qualifications.
- FBI Internship
You don’t need to have a degree to become an intern at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They have a paid Honors Internship Program as well as a non-paid Volunteer Internship Program, either of which can help you get a homeland security career. You can even use the site to see when the next recruiting event will be.
- Operations Ashore – Prevention
This career is part of the Coast Guard and involves operations on land. High school graduates can find several options for them, including a few than can help pay for college. Simply click on the name of the program, or call their hotline.
- TSA Intern
Looking for a job with the Transportation Security Administration but still a student? Then check out one of the three internships offered by the TSA. They include a career experience program, temporary employment program, and even volunteer service program, all of which can be an important stepping stone to a homeland security career. The TSA site even offers a way to apply online.
- Student Opportunities
Finally, if the above aren’t enough for you, click here. It is the master list of student opportunities available at the Department of Homeland Security. They have options in cyber security, health and science, law enforcement, legal, public affairs, and other majors.
And the above top 20 fascinating homeland security careers are just a few of the choices available. If still confused as to which degree to pick or how to pay for it, check out the Ultimate Guide to Homeland Security Degree Scholarships and Grants.