Online Homeland Security Bachelor’s Degree

Overview

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Homeland security professionals have the weight of the nation on their shoulders. They are tasked with protecting the United States from threats ranging from hurricanes to terrorist attacks by anticipating potential problems and devising plans to solve them in advance.

"It’s a challenging field," Dave Gilmore, a security consultant, told the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a 2006 report. "You have plans to deal with the more likely problems, but you can’t prepare for every eventuality. You also need to be able to react."

An online bachelor’s degree in homeland security can help students develop the skills they will need to succeed in such a demanding, unpredictable field.

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Course Work

Example courses
International terrorism
Network security
Drugs and crime
Risk analysis
Natural disaster management
Psychology of terrorism
Interagency communication

To give students an introduction to the many facets of homeland security, most online bachelor’s programs include basic courses in criminal justice, emergency management, terrorism and public safety. Other course work may focus on prevention, response and recovery, and intelligence gathering.

The tactics used by terrorists - both foreign and domestic - are always changing, and technology is influencing those changes, so many online homeland security programs also offer courses that deal with cybersecurity and network security.

Professionals who already have a bachelor’s degree can enroll in an online master’s degree in homeland security, a program that generally does not require any previous homeland security course work.

Job Outlook

Salary range*
Security screener, airline $24,800 - $44,300
Border patrol agent $30,900 - $78,000
Emergency management specialist $34,700 - $93,000
Air marshal $45,800 - $122,400
Program analyst $58,500 - $136,700

*per PayScale.com

Graduates with a bachelor’s in homeland security often go on to work for local and national law enforcement, as well as federal agencies such as FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and the Department of Homeland Security. Working for these agencies often requires security clearance, which means prospective employees must be U.S. citizens and have clean criminal records.

Median salaries for homeland security professionals range from $55,000 for police officers to roughly $75,500 for security analysts, according to the BLS. Pay for those working for the federal government varies by experience and qualifications. For example, a border patrol agent with a bachelor’s degree and minimal experience earns close to $37,000, but can make almost $46,500 if he or she demonstrates an ability to analyze intelligence information, develop a network of informants and put together criminal cases, among other skills.

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