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Five Places to Work When You Choose a Career in Homeland Security

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

According to the latest report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over 1.2 million violent crimes were committed in the United States in 2019.1 This statistic highlights 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 terrorism.2 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.

Five Places to Work When You Choose a Career in Homeland Security

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. 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 and more than 2,000 miles of costal borders in the U.S. that require protection. As part of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you can prevent illegal entry into the U.S. by air as well. CBP agricultural specialists work to curtail the spread of pests and diseases from plants and animals to farms and other food supplies.3  
  • Secret Service. As a member of the U.S. 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.3
  • Disaster Response and Recovery. Every day is different when working in disaster relief. Job duties with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could include helping communities reduce risk, preparing emergency officials to meet specific hazards, or providing support after a disaster. In a nutshell, FEMA aims to help “save and sustain lives, minimize suffering, and protect property.”4 
  • 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.5
  • Coast Guard. 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 aid, ice breaking, environmental protection, and port security.6

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

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a variety of criminal justice degree programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree online through a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


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,