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Working in the Department of Homeland Security

By Jamey Perkins

The Department offers a multitude of job opportunities and a chance to make a difference to Americaís defensive capability against international terrorist activity. There are career opportunities in four specific fields:

  • Mission Support
  • Law Enforcement
  • Immigration and Travel Security
  • Prevention and Response

Mission Support Careers

There are 9 specific directorates or offices in which to base a career. These are:

Hand Scan
  1. The Science and Technology Directorate who are responsible for establishing, administering, and coordinating the research and development activities of the department.
  2. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis who are responsible for collecting, gathering, processing, analyzing, producing and disseminating intelligence information. This includes information on homeland security, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
  3. The Office of Operations Coordination who are responsible for the effective integration of joint security operations.
  4. The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, as the name suggests, this office provides operational support, oversight, training, policy and program advice to the department's leadership on civil rights and civil liberties issues. If a public complaint is received then they are also responsible for investigating and resolving the complaint.
  5. The Office of Inspector General provides an independent inspection and audit activity. Its primary aim is to prevent and detect fraudulent actions in all the departmentís activities.
  6. The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) exists to improve our capability to detect and report unauthorized importation and use of nuclear or radiological material.
  7. The National Protection and Programs Directorate is responsible for the oversight of critical infrastructure systems. It leads the departmentís computer security activities and ensures that any vulnerability is highlighted and strengthened.
  8. The Management Directorate administer budget and spend activities and track the performance of the department.
  9. The Office of Health Affairs supply advice to the department on medical issues related to disasters, both natural and terrorist and ensure that a co-ordinated and integrated approach is taken to medical preparedness.

Law Enforcement Careers

There are four departments who, together, make up law enforcement activity. These are:

  1. The U.S Secret Service whose primary job is to protect high ranking officials including the President and Vice President, their families, and various heads of state.
  2. The U.S Customs and Border Protection, who are primarily responsible for protecting our nation's borders, while allowing the free flow of legitimate trade and travel.
  3. The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement who are responsible for the enforcement of immigration and customs laws. They also highlight and respond to specific threats and vulnerabilities at our borders.
  4. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, who plan and implement law enforcement training across the department.

Immigration and Travel Security Careers

Immigration and Security consists of two departments:

  1. The U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service who are responsible for creating immigration policy and oversee lawful immigration to the United States. Their major task is to prevent access into the country by anyone who could be considered a threat to the nation.
  2. The Transportation Security Administration who are responsible for protecting our transportation systems. This includes all security checking and inspection.

Prevention and Response Careers

Prevention and Response consists of the US Coastguard, who protect U.S. interests and the public in any maritime region, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency who provide a complete and comprehensive emergency management system. This system ensures we are prepared in the event of an emergency and that we can respond and recover adequately from any such emergency.

Required Education and Experience

You should be aware that you will need to meet certain specific requirements if you wish to work for the Department of Homeland Security.

The first requirement is to be a U.S. Citizen and pass a security check. This check will actually verify that you are a U.S. citizen and also check your credit rating, conduct a criminal background check, check FBI records and examine any employment references. An interview and polygraph test will normally follow for those that pass the initial checks.

It is strongly recommended that you have a reasonable standard of education if you wish to work for Homeland Security. The general rule is that the better education you have the more chance you have of getting that dream job. If you have any kind of post-secondary education then your chances will be greatly improved, since the majority of jobs will require at least this level of education and preferably a Bachelorís degree. The terrorist is becoming increasingly better educated and armed and we must match this improvement if we are to improve our ability to protect our nation and its people.

There are a number of online schools and also traditional schools who offer specialized degrees in Homeland Security and even Disaster Management and these are an excellent way of demonstrating your commitment to a career in the department. It also helps if you have a background or experience in the military, law enforcement, science, engineering or computing since this will make you eligible for a significant number of positions.

It is worth examining the various courses that are available, graduation from which will increase the probability of gaining a suitable position. Be assured that any career with Homeland Security is likely to be a long lasting and rewarding occupation and one that provides as much challenge as anyone could ever want. The threat from international terrorism is very real, consistent and it will be necessary to ensure that the department continues to attract the cream of our scholastic talent so that the threat can be detected, managed, mitigated and controlled so that we can continue to live in a peaceful democracy.

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