What Can I Do with an Associate's Degree in National Security?

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in national security could be prepared to work within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in a variety of roles if they have prior experience in a related position. Some possible career titles include customs officer, border patrol agent and immigration services agent. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options Overview

Obtaining an associate's degree in national security provides students with the proper foundation to work as a customs officers, border patrol agents, or immigration service agents. Outlined below are some specifics concerning each career.

Important Facts About National Security Associate's Degree Career Options

Customs Officer Border Patrol Agent Immigration Service Agents
Median Salary (2016) $73,854 $63,729 $53,226
Key Skills Customer service, problem solving, critical thinking, observational Critical thinking, social awareness, good judgment and decision making, time management Clear communication, reading comprehension, monitoring, close listening
Work Environment Airports, border crossings Border crossings Border crossings
Similar Occupations Police detectives; sheriffs; transit and railroad police Fish and game wardens; fire investigators; police patrol officers Forensic science technicians; police identification and records officers; criminal investigators and special agents

Source: PayScale.com

Customs Officer

Customs officers are responsible for monitoring all material imported and exported to the United States. The material may include baggage, cargo and articles of clothing worn by people or brought into the country on vessels, trains, aircraft and vehicles. Many customs officers work at airports and are responsible for checking materials brought into the United States. In some instances, they may have to make arrests, do undercover work and testify in court; many of these responsibilities are typical of customs agents who track the importing of illegal drugs.

Border Patrol Agent

Patrolling the 8,000 miles of land and water boundaries of the United States is the primary responsibility of border patrol agents. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the border patrol was established in 1924 in response to the increasing number of illegal immigrants crossing into the United States (www.cpb.gov).

While its main objective has remained unchanged, the border patrol now monitors potential terrorist suspects and any weapons moving into the United States. Border patrol agents do not work typical hours and may be called into action at any time. Physical strength is extremely important because border patrol agents work over a wide range of terrain types. Some of the major duties of a border patrol agent include conducting traffic checks, participating in undercover surveillance and helping with anti-smuggling activities.

Immigration Service Agents

The primary responsibility of immigration service agents is to examine and interview people who wish to come to the United States. The immigration inspector will uphold the immigration laws of the United States and will make a determination on whether a person should or shouldn't be allowed into the country. During the interview process, the immigration agent will examine all applications, visas and passports. In extreme instances, they may be required to make arrests and make arrangements for deportation.

Job Outlook for National Security Professions

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the employment of national security professionals was expected to increase by four percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is slower than the national average for all other occupations combined. The rate of hiring is directly impacted by the amount of government spending. Applicants with the best chances of securing employment are those who hold an undergraduate degree and have some years of investigative experience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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