April 5, 2016
Threats to our country are increasingly part of the national dialog. Headlines, heightened alerts and public safety measures continue to remind us that living in a post-9/11 world means living vigilantly.
This new culture of caution is spawning thousands upon thousands of jobs dedicated to protecting the public. Bright, eager, civic-minded problem-solvers are flocking to these jobs - for moral and monetary reasons. Not only are they noble professions, they are also among the most recession-proof.
Whether you've decided on a career in homeland security and counterterrorism, or you're still considering your options, this exploration can help you chart your course.
As the name implies, anything having to do with keeping U.S. citizens safe falls under the "homeland security" umbrella. Homeland security jobs proliferated in the 1990s when the CIA formed the Interagency Intelligence Committee on Terrorism (IICT) to improve global counterterrorism operations. A vast network of federal law enforcement agencies participates in the IICT.
Other agencies, such as the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (known as ATF), and the Border Patrol also collaborate to fight terrorism, as does the much newer Department of Homeland Security.
In addition, a number of homeland security projects are handled or out-sourced to specialized private defense contractors as long-term and short-term assignments. As a result, there are a plethora of places to put your counterterrorism and homeland security passion to work.
What's required to enter the homeland security field? Most positions require an undergraduate degree as a minimum. Those with a graduate degree in hand augment their opportunities substantially.
With a degree in homeland security, you can begin or advance your career as an intelligence analyst, investigator, federal agent, terrorism prevention agent or dispute resolution specialist.
Job security and stability look strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects above-average growth broadly across investigative fields - some fields growing up to 11 percent through 2022.*
Who is hiring? The Department of Homeland Security alone employs 240,000 people in positions including aviation and border security to emergency response to cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. These roles are critical to securing our borders, airports, seaports and waterways.
Having answered "What is homeland security?," let's look at how to prepare yourself for the greatest success.
Southern New Hampshire University has several comprehensive and attainable homeland security degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The BS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security & Counterterrorism provides a deep understanding of the threat of terrorism and how best to respond to it. The program coursework examines the nature and history of terrorism, how terrorist groups succeed and fail, how to combat terror and how to respond to domestic and/or international terrorist campaigns.
You'll also explore a wide range of security scenarios and develop the analytical, industry-standard policy skills required to solve them.
Want to take your fascination with homeland security to the next level? SNHU's online MS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Advanced Counterterrorism provides an in-depth examination of the history of global terrorism and the responses to it. As you work on your criminal justice master's online degree, you'll learn intelligence analysis, threat assessment, advanced surveillance and counterterrorism techniques.
Both of these online degrees in homeland security prepare you for a career where fast and thorough assessments, decision-making and action can have life-saving results. You will research and develop the latest security technologies, learn how to respond to natural disasters or terrorist assaults, dissect intelligence reports and much more.
SNHU's programs are taught by knowledgeable faculty members with years of real-world, hands-on experience. These are also among the most attainable degrees of their kind. No GMATs or prerequisites are required, and tuition rates are among the lowest in the nation. SNHU also offers a 30-percent tuition discount for active-duty servicemembers and their spouses.
After high school, Ryan Sexton started college but didn't feel satisfied. He wanted something more, so he joined the Coast Guard. "It was always a career I was interested in, but I knew how important finishing college was. With a college degree, I could pursue a commission as an officer (I am currently enlisted) and specialize in a related field. Outside of the Coast Guard, I could pursue an FBI or Secret Service career. A degree in homeland security allows me to consider both," Sexton said.
"In today's world, we constantly deal with threats from within our own country and across the world. Understanding that better is something I enjoy and could really see myself doing as a career," he added.
Sexton chose SNHU's online BS in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security and Counterterrorism after much homework. "The eight week courses, the cost, and the military department all drew me in," said Sexton. But it was working one-on-one with his SNHU military advisor that sealed the deal. "My advisor, Jack Moorhouse, is a prior 'Coastie.' He understands exactly what I am going through. That is by far the most helpful thing about being at SNHU," he said.
We all want to make a living doing what we love. The SNHU criminal justice, homeland security and counterterrorism teams put extra emphasis on getting students to that goal. "What we focus on is employability," said Dr. Jeff Czarnec, assistant dean of Criminal Justice. He notes that SNHU has one of the most aggressive programs in the country, developed and taught by highly regarded professionals with a wealth of real-world experience in their respective fields. The objective is "to help you identify where you belong in the vast array of employment opportunities," Czarnec said. Whether you're interested in the fields of policing, corrections, human services, or homeland security, at SNHU, you can immerse yourself in actual experiences while earning your degree.
As the saying goes, don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Successful professionals live by this rule. When it comes to education, SNHU makes enrolling in the next chapter of your life something you can do easily and affordably today.
SNHU's online community is full of people a lot like you, who want better jobs or better compensation - often both, but lack the time to travel and attend school on campus. There is an online writing center, tutoring services, free career development counseling and much more. In short, SNHU online students receive all the benefits of a campus community from wherever they call home.
*Job market data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook is intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities and is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. SNHU cannot guarantee employment.
Peter Leahy is chief engineer aboard the container ship APL China. When he's not there, Peter is pursuing his online MS in Data Analytics - and his lifelong passion for conservation.
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