What Are the Benefits of a Homeland Security Degree Online?

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks on American soil, the Department of Homeland Security was created in response to a growing need for extra protections within U.S. borders. However, working for this department is not the only way you can keep the country safe. Pursue a homeland security degree online and you may have a chance to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to keep the U.S. secure from external and internal threats.

The road to a career in homeland security

Those who wish to do harm to Americans at home and abroad are constantly revising their tactics. If future homeland security professionals are to stay one step ahead of these individuals, they need to have a strong foundation in counterterrorism strategies. Fortunately, homeland security degree programs are designed to provide the necessary skills.

Online degrees in homeland security are available at all academic levels, from the associate's to the doctoral. Many programs place a major focus on criminal justice, as well as specific topics, such as emergency management, intelligence and terrorism.

Possible careers in homeland security

Should you choose to enter this field, many career options lie ahead of you. It's just a matter of how you want to serve your country.

There are occupations in law enforcement, which range from working in U.S. customs to the FBI. You could fill roles within immigration services to prevent suspicious individuals from entering the country, or perhaps you'd prefer to be a part of the response efforts that follow disasters, whether natural, such as hurricanes, or man-made, including bombings.

Potential salaries for homeland security careers

An online homeland security degree may provide you with the necessary knowledge you'll need to begin a career in this field, but it's important to note that salaries may vary depending on your subject matter expertise and experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the median annual salaries for a few possible occupations.

  • Emergency Management Directors: Median annual salary of $59,770 (8 percent growth through 2022)[i]
  • Police and detectives: Median annual salary of $56,980 (5 percent growth through 2022)[ii]
  • Chemists and Materials Scientists: Median annual salary of $73,060 (6 percent growth through 2022)[iii]

Skills for a career in homeland security

As occupations in the field of homeland security are so diverse, the specific skills you'll need in individual jobs will vary. However, there are a few qualities you should possess if you want to dedicate your career to protecting the American public.

Leadership, physical stamina and good judgment are considered to be essential qualities for those pursuing careers in law enforcement, according to the BLS.[iv] Meanwhile, emergency management directors need to have communication and interpersonal skills if they're to direct the responses to disasters.[i] Critical-thinking and decision-making skills are also crucial among homeland security professionals, as they never know when a crisis will arise.

With the appropriate training, however, you may be able to build these essential skills before embarking on a life of serving your country and its citizens.

[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/emergency-management-directors.htm#tab-1 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-1 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/chemists-and-materials-scientists.htm | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-4