5 Jobs in Homeland Security

The United States Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting the country from man-made accidents, natural disasters and terrorist attacks, was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The organization focuses on the civilian aspect of protecting the United States while the Department of Defense does so militarily. About 250,000 people work for the DHS in a variety of fields; here is a list of some of the more well-known jobs.

Border Patrol Agent

More than 20,000 border patrol agents work on and near the 5,000- and 3,000-mile borders that the United States shares with Canada and Mexico, respectively, and in the coastal waters around Florida and Puerto Rico. Border patrol agents are responsible for facilitating legitimate trade into and out of the United States as well as preventing people from illegally crossing the border into the country. The minimum requirements to become a border patrol agent include American citizenship, holding a valid driver’s license and being younger than 37 years of age. A related degree or work experience and passing the entrance exam are also necessary.

ICE Agent

Agents who work for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the country’s second-largest criminal investigative agency behind the FBI, focus on the prevention of unlawful goods and people entering the United States. Although their duties are similar to a border patrol agent’s, ICE agents focus more on discovering and eliminating vulnerabilities in the country’s borders and conducting investigations related to national security. In most cases, at least one year’s work towards a master’s degree is required of those looking to become an ICE agent; this may be waived for those with significant military or law enforcement experience.

Secret Service Agent

Although Secret Service agents are most known for protecting the president, they have a wide range of responsibilities. Of course, foremost is protecting high-profile government officials, their families and visiting heads of state. However, they also investigate financial crimes such as those related to counterfeit money and fraud. In fact, that was the organization’s original and sole focus when it was formed in 1865; after President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the Secret Service was given the additional duty of protecting the president. Prospective agents need to have earned a bachelor’s degree and completed at least a year’s progress towards a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Sky Marshal

This is one of those jobs that were created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks as many of the positions that the DHS now oversees were actually in existence prior to that tragedy. Sky marshals travel undercover on commercial aircraft in an effort to eliminate hijackings that could occur on those or other flights. These individuals fly on roughly one day out of every two and spend nearly 1,000 hours in the air every year. They constantly surveil the environment, looking for anything suspicious or otherwise dangerous. Those interested in joining this field must be under the age of 40, possess a bachelor’s degree and have at least three years of related work experience.

TSA Screener

Nearly 47,000 TSA screeners work at airports and other transportation hubs throughout the country, ensuring that security is maintained there. They generally use metal detectors, x-ray machines and physical searches of luggage and people while conducting their duties. TSA screeners do not have the power to arrest, are not allowed to use force and do not carry any weapons. Some screeners serve as Behavior Detection Officers; these individuals surveil people as they go through the line with an eye towards any suspicious body language or movements. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old and hold American citizenship.

Of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg as the DHS also oversees agencies such as the United States Coast Guard and the National Protection and Programs Directorate. A complete list may be viewed here.