What Does a Homeland Security Specialist Do?

Would you like to help those in need when disaster strikes? Are you a computer specialist, law enforcement agent, or first responder who would like to specialize in homeland security? Keep reading to learn more about the job responsibilities of professionals in this field. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Homeland security specialists are responsible for creating, implementing, and monitoring emergency preparedness programs in an attempt to mitigate the threats of natural disasters, border violations, and terrorist attacks. They can work for federal or state government agencies, or even private corporations. Many schools offer homeland security degree and certificate programs to current and aspiring public safety officials. You'll also find training available as a specialization in some criminal justice programs. Some of the job responsibilities you might have as a homeland security specialist are outlined below.

Important Facts About Homeland Security Specialists

On-the-Job Training Provided by employer, lasting a few weeks to a couple of months
Key Skills Leadership, clear communication, physical strength and stamina, situational awareness, critical thinking, problem-solving
Work Environment Varies depending upon occupation; Typically a mixture of office and field work
Similar Occupations Emergency management directors; remote sensing technicians; information security analysts; security managers; transportation security screeners; security guards
Median Salary (2018)$74,420 (Emergency Management Directors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% growth (Emergency Management Directors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Plan for Contingencies

Homeland security specialists working for emergency management agencies create plans to recover from a terrorist attack or natural disaster as quickly as possible. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this can include pooling the resources of government agencies and private organizations, creating evacuation plans, and maintaining local first responder units (www.dhs.gov). Homeland security specialists may also work to improve building codes in areas prone to flooding or other natural disasters and educate the public about steps to be taken in the event of an emergency.

Respond to Emergencies

Homeland security specialists are also responsible for providing victims with basic services once disaster strikes. This could include performing search and rescue operations as a first responder. You may also operate local shelters or set up temporary housing. Other responsibilities could include providing meals or emergency health care services to those in need, according to the DHS.

Protect Data

Homeland security specialists working in the field of information technology are also responsible for protecting sensitive data and information systems. The DHS explains that you may need to issue warnings to private businesses and government entities about threats to computer networks. You may also monitor Internet activities in order to detect identity theft, malware, or digital intruders. In some cases, homeland security specialists intervene when a system has become compromised or create public education campaigns so people can take measures to protect themselves.

Apprehend Criminals

As a law enforcement agent specializing in homeland security, you may be asked to guard transit hubs, airports, or stations; patrol borders; inspect freight; or work in a customs checkpoint, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). You may also be responsible for keeping counterfeit goods and other illegal items from entering the country.

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