A criminal justice degree can help you secure a job in homeland security

According to the latest report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2015 the U.S. saw a 3.9% increase in the estimated number of violent crimes from the previous year.* These statistics reinforce the importance of having qualified professionals filling criminal justice positions in areas such as law enforcement, the justice system, corrections, homeland security, and social services that aim to control crime and impose penalties on those who violate laws.

While criminal justice careers often focus on domestic crimes against persons or property, homeland security—which is a facet of criminal justice—primarily focuses on investigation, detection, and interception of external threats, such as customs violations, illegal immigration, smuggling, and terrorists. Homeland security also includes identifying, planning for, and responding to terrorist threats, as well as detecting patterns and trends, such as the rise of terrorist-inspired individuals and homegrown violent extremists.

As national security threats constantly change, so do the ways in which homeland security professionals protect the nation. This challenging, dynamic, and diverse field cuts across a number of disciplines and offers many opportunities to secure and defend the U.S. from the many threats it faces. Here are five places to work when you choose a career in homeland security:

  • Border Patrol. There are nearly 6,000 miles of land borders in the U.S., plus more than 2,000 miles of costal borders. As part of the U.S. Border Patrol, you can also prevent illegal entry into the U.S. by air. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also has agricultural specialists who work to curtail the spread of pests and diseases from plants and animals to farms and other food supplies.§
  • Secret Service. As a member of the United States Secret Service, you could protect individuals such as the president, vice president, former presidents, and visiting heads of state. You could also conduct criminal investigations into counterfeiting, financial institution fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, access device fraud, and money laundering.§
  • Disaster Response and Recovery. Every day is different when working in emergency relief. When working in this area, you could provide preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation to reduce loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards. While the public may receive early alerts and warnings, things don’t always go as planned.**
  • Homeland Security Investigations. This arm of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency protects the nation against terrorist and other criminal organizations that threaten its safety and national security, as well as transnational criminal enterprises who seek to exploit America's legitimate trade, travel, and financial systems. As an HSI criminal investigator, you could be involved in a variety of challenging criminal and civil investigations, including national security threats, terrorism, public safety, drug smuggling, child exploitation, human trafficking, illegal arms export, financial crimes, identity fraud, benefit fraud, and commercial fraud.††
  • Coast Guard. As the nation’s oldest continuous seagoing service, the Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security. As a member of the Coast Guard, you could be responsible for missions such as search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, navigation aids, ice breaking, environmental protection, port security, and military readiness.‡‡

While homeland security majors have varied reasons for choosing a career in this noble and well-respected field, it’s passion and commitment for seeking justice that connects everyone. As you pursue or advance your career in criminal justice, consider earning a degree in criminal justice or homeland security to set yourself apart from the competition.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online BS in Criminal Justice with five concentrations, including Homeland Security. Expand your career options and earn your degree online through a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*Federal Bureau of Investigation, Latest Crime Statistics Released, on the Internet at www.fbi.gov/news/stories/latest-crime-statistics-released.

†Yahoo! Answers, What Is the Difference Between Homeland Security and Criminal Justice?, on the Internet at answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110609111826AAwaXnk.

‡E. Jones, Careers in Homeland Security: Many Jobs, One Mission, Bureau of Labor Statistics, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2006/summer/art01.pdf.

§G. Stilson, 10 Exciting Homeland Security Jobs, GI Jobs, on the Internet at www.gijobs.com/10-exciting-homeland-security-jobs.

**Department of Homeland Security, Disaster Response and Recovery, on the Internet at https://www.dhs.gov/topic/disaster-response-and-recovery

††U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Become a Criminal Investigator, on the Internet at www.ice.gov/careers/occupation/investigator#wcm-survey-target-id.

‡‡U.S. Coast Guard, Careers, on the Internet at www.uscg.mil/top/careers.asp.

§§Department of Homeland Security, National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin, November 15, 2016, on the Internet at www.dhs.gov/ntas/advisory/ntas_16_1115_0001.

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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