The Department of Homeland Security

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Each day, hundreds of thousands of workers within The Department of Homeland Security will perform millions of different tasks, all with the same goal: to protect the security of the country. The Department of Homeland Security is a very large organization with an even larger reach. There are homeland security resources within all levels of government, including the federal, state and local levels. Within each level there are multiple different agencies and programs involved. In order for the department to work effectively, it is essential that all of these different resources and agencies work together.

Jobs at the Dept of Homeland Security – DHS

Within each element of the department, there are people who are responsible for planning, executing those plans and communicating with all of the other agencies that need to know what is happening. The major components of DHS are listed below. Jobs at the Department of Homeland Security are multi-faceted and require a variety of educational expertise and experience. You’ll find that the salary for jobs in homeland security will vary by agency and position.

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Office of Intelligence and Analysis

The broad goal of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis is to collect and analyze information that is related to potential threats to homeland security. The intelligence is then provided to partners within the Department of Homeland Security as well as officials of federal, state and local governments. In some instances, the information is also shared with partners from the private sector.

The major components analyzed are potential threats to border security, extremism, groups entering the United States, infrastructure, weapons of mass destruction and health threats.

Office of Intelligence & Analysis JobsRecommended Degree
Intelligence Analysthomeland security degree, criminal justice w/ counterrorism concentration
Intelligence Support Personnelhomeland security degree
Statistical Analysis Analyststatistics degree, mathematics degree
Homeland Threats Analystgeneral criminal justice w/ terrorism focus, homeland security
Counterterrorism Specialisthomeland security degree, forensic psychology degree, criminology degree

Directorate for National Protection and Programs

The biggest goal of the Directorate for National Protection is to reduce risk. They identify potential risks that may come from physical threats as well as virtual threats. As the internet becomes more and more a part of our daily lives, the Cybersecurity division within The Department of Homeland Security continues to grow in importance.

Directorate for National Protection JobsRecommended Degree
Cybersecurity Specialistcybersecurity degree
IT & Information Securityinformation security degree
Critical Cyber Infrastructure Analystcybersecurity degree or IT degree

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The focus of the US Customs and Border Protection department is simply to protect our borders. While that sounds pretty straightforward, this department is actually one of the largest departments within DHS and one of the most complex. The task of protecting the borders has a main task of keeping terrorists and weapons from ever entering the United States. However, the department is also responsible for facilitating international trade and travel as well as making sure the hundreds of laws regarding immigration and drugs are enforced.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Border Patrol Agent , Customs Agentcriminal justice, law enforcement, homeland security

United States Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is the only military organization that has a place within the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is responsible for protecting the maritime borders of the country, protecting the maritime economy and protecting those who are in peril within our waterways through search and rescue functions. The Coast Guard is a unique military force and has both military and civil responsibilities. They are involved in nearly every facet of our maritime environment.

The United States Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard protects the maritime economy and the environment, defends our maritime borders, and saves those in peril.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Logistics Management Specialisthomeland security degree w/ maritime logistical training
Coast Guard Vessel Operationhomeland security degree w/ maritime logistical training
Coast Guard Intelligencehomeland security degree, criminal justice program
Maintenance & Mechanical Positionsmechanical engineering degree
Disaster Recovery Specialistdisaster management degree
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Directorate for Science and Technology

The primary function of this Department is research and development. It focuses on providing the various levels of government with the technology that they need for protection.

The divisions within the Department are:

  • Borders and Maritime Security
  • Chemical and Biological Division
  • Explosives Division
  • Human Factors Behavioral Sciences
  • Infrastructure Protection and Disaster Management
Directorate for Science & Technology JobsRecommended Degree
Chemistchemistry degree
Biological Warfare Analystbiology degree
Atomic Physicistphysics degree
Cyber Terrorism Supportcybersecurity degree
Disaster Recovery Specialistdisaster management degree

Office of Policy

The Office of Policy is responsible for developing and implementing the foundation and direction for all of the broad policies that will be followed by The Department of Homeland Security. This is handled in a central department to ensure consistency of message and application throughout the DHS. It is then the responsibility of the Office of Policy to ensure coordination among all of the other departments. This provides a single contact point for both external and internal communication.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Policy Analystpolitical science degree
Program Analystbusiness or project management degree

Office of Health Affairs

Medicine and health are the core focuses of the Office of Health Affairs. In addition to coordinating all aspects of the medical activities of the DHS, they also work to prepare for, and respond to situations that are medically significant.

The department lists its main goals as:

  • Provide expert medical advice to the leaders within DHS
  • Build up our national resilience related to health incidents
  • Enhance the capabilities of DHS first responders
  • Protect the workforce of DHS from health threats
Department JobsRecommended Degree
Medical DoctorPhD Doctor of Medicine
Health & Disease Control Analystmicro biology degree

Office of Operations Coordination and Planning

The focus of this department is on monitoring all aspects related to the security of the country. This is done on a daily basis and there is a large emphasis on coordinating activities with other DHS leaders, state governors, partners in law enforcement and the critical people responsible for infrastructure.

The main goals of the department are:

  • Conduct and coordinate joint operations
  • Coordinate incident management activities
  • Use all necessary resources needed to convert policies into the required action
  • Oversee the NOC (National Operations Center)
Department JobsRecommended Degree
Homeland Security Operations Specialisthomeland security (combining w/ a business management minor or double major)
Incident Response Managementdisaster recovery degree or certificate
Disaster Recovery Specialistdisaster management degree

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

The main function of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is to enhance and improve the country’s ability to detect unauthorized activities related to nuclear weapons. This includes increasing our ability to identify attempts to import, possess, create, house, or transport any kind of nuclear material or radiological material that could possibly be used against the country. This is an ongoing process and the department strives to constantly increase our ability to carry out these functions.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Nuclear Surveillance Officerchemistry degree
Atomic Energy Threat Analystbiology degree
Atomic Physicistphysics degree
Security Officersecurity admin degree

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The TSA is one of the more well-known departments within the DHS and this is mainly due to their extensive presence in airports. While airports are where the TSA workers are the most visible, they are also seen on subways and around rail cars. It is the goal of the TSA to make it safe for people to travel in any mode of transportation that they desire. Their concern is not only the safety of the people traveling, but of the systems that are being used for the travel.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
US Air Marshalcriminal justice degree, homeland security degree
Airport Security, Airport Screenercriminal justice degree, homeland security degree
Airport Screenercriminal justice degree

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement department is the principal investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security. This investigative unit is the second largest within the federal government. The primary responsibility of ICE is to promote homeland security by enforcing all of the federal laws that govern customs, immigration and border patrol. There are two separate divisions within ICE. One is the investigative unit (Homeland Security Investigations) and the other is the Enforcement and Removal Operations division.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
INS Agent – ICE Agentcriminal justice degree, homeland security degree, political science immigration law concentration, foreign language

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA is also one of the more well-known departments within the DHS. This is because when disaster strikes, people need help and FEMA is the organization charged with providing this help. They are also responsible for helping the affected area recover from the event. FEMA is also responsible is to build up and improve our ability to prepare for and protect us from potential disasters. This includes both natural and man-made disasters. Frequently, this includes working with state and local agencies to coordinate efforts.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Disaster Recovery Logistics Officeremergency management certificate or degree
Disaster Preparedness Planneremergency management degree
On-Call Response Team Member*usually no post-secondary education required
Disease Control Officerbiology, physiology

United States Secret Service

Although the Secret Service is most well-known for its protection component, it actually has dual responsibilities. The Secret Service is responsible for the protection of all national leaders as well as visiting government leaders and heads of state. The protection component of the Secret Service also extends to certain sites and designated National Security Events. The other part of the Secret Service responsibilities includes protecting the financial infrastructure of the country and preserving the integrity of our economic system.

Department JobsRecommended Degree
Special Agentcriminal justice masters degree , masters in homeland security
Secret Service IT Specialistinformation security degree, cyber security degree
Administrative Supportadministrative law enforcement degree

Directorate for Management

As the title suggests, the purpose of this department is management. This department handles all aspects of the budget and finance as it relates to equipment, facilities and IT systems. The department is also responsible for the human resource functions which include tracking employee performance.

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Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

FLETC is an interagency training organization for law enforcement. It handles training for more than 89 different federal agencies.

The following are some of the different types of training divisions within FLETC:

  • Advanced Programs
  • Basic Programs
  • Human Trafficking Training Program
  • Behavioral Science Division
  • Counterterrorism Division
  • Driver and Marine Division
  • Enforcement Operations Division
  • Firearms Division
  • International Training and Technical Assistance
  • Investigative Operations Division
  • Law Enforcement Leadership Institute
  • Legal Division
  • Physical Techniques Division
  • Technical Operations Division
  • Training Management Division
  • Training Innovation Division