The United States Department of Homeland Security is a relatively new entity that was organized under President George W. Bush not long after the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The Department is also well known for releasing National Threat Advisories, color-coded threat levels that are used especially in regards to travel threats. Currently, however, the Department of Homeland Security encompasses much more than counterterrorism strategies. Professionals who are employed by the department work for the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Secret Service, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and several other divisions devoted to public safety, surveillance and border control. The exact job descriptions for these positions vary, with Coast Guard officers being responsible for environmental protection, search and rescue and border patrol, while TSA federal air marshals monitor airline safety, passengers, crew members, cargo and airplanes themselves in order to protect Americans against acts of terrorism and crime. All professionals who work for the Department of Homeland Security must be well-trained, trustworthy individuals who can make quick decisions and judgment calls based on their experience, education and instruction from supervisors. Work conditions for Homeland Security employees vary also, and officers may find themselves patrolling port cities, in a Washington, D.C. office, working in an airport customs office, or protecting the President and other high profile politicians from assassination attempts.
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Just as the job descriptions and working conditions for Homeland Security careers vary, salaries fluctuate depending on experience, location, education and particular job. Generally, the most high profile jobs pay the highest salaries. All Homeland Security professionals are eligible for the federal benefits package, which includes health insurance, personal leave days, ten paid holidays each year, paid training, a portable retirement plan (Thrift Savings Plan), medical spending accounts, life and long-term care insurance, tuition reimbursement and more.
Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expects its employees to be highly trained, intelligent professionals, job candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like computer science or information technology, criminal justice, or law enforcement. A Master’s degree in one of these areas could increase your chances of earning a higher salary right away, becoming eligible for promotions, and standing out among the crowd of other competitive job candidates. Additional skills they could help your chances of getting a job with Homeland Security include proficiency in a foreign language or previous experience in the military.