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Homeland Security Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to obtain a career for The Department of Homeland Security. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, training and job duties to find out if this is the career field for you.

Essential Information

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) comprises many different governmental agencies and departments, including the U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the Office of the Inspector General. A wide range of positions, from clerical work to architecture, offers applicants the opportunity to work for the federal government in an array of settings, anywhere in the United States. The table below provides just a few examples of the types of careers offered by The DHS.

Career Information Security Analyst Lawyer Border Patrol Agent
Required Education Bachelor's degree Juris Doctor High school diploma or equivalent
Other Requirements N/A Bar exam Academy or on-the-job training
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 37%* 10%* 5%* (for all police and detectives)
Median Salary (2013) $88,590* $114,300* $56,130* (for all police and sheriff's patrol officers)

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Applicants from all experience levels and educational backgrounds can find a job working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Example job titles include IT specialist with the National Protection and Programs Directorate, pipe-fitter for the Coast Guard, social science research specialist with the Secret Service, attorney, writer and many more. The DHS Job Finder allows users to find a job according to specialty, department and location within the United States (www.dhs.gov).

The DHS also offers students internships, scholarships, fellowships, and training opportunities. Fellowships and other opportunities are available for recent graduates and those who have completed military service.

Salary Information

The pay scale for all government positions, including those in the Department of Homeland Security, is based on the yearly updated General Schedule. Pay levels range widely, from those requiring only a high school diploma or GED, to jobs requiring a significant amount of experience, specialized higher education and security clearance. Pay also varies by geographic location. The federal government offers health insurance, flexible schedules and other benefits to its Homeland Security employees.

As of January 2014, the lowest pay available for a government worker was $17,981, while the highest was $130,810. These rates depended on the person's pay grade, tasks and experience, so homeland security workers might earn salaries anywhere within this range.

Requirements

Some positions require some college coursework or a bachelor's degree in any field. Certain higher paying positions - such as those involving research, scientific or other professional work, including accounting, engineering or psychology - may require an undergraduate degree in a specific field, a master's degree or specific courses as defined by the job. Other positions may require other specialized higher education, such as a Doctor of Philosophy in a specific area or a law degree.

Appointments are made according to the government's General Schedule (GS), which is generally related to education and experience, and classifies jobs in order of pay scale. Most clerical and assistant positions require only a high school diploma.

Trade and crafts jobs have their own qualification system. Some provide apprenticeships and on-the-job training; applicants must demonstrate that they are capable of succeeding in the training and the job.

Experience and Testing

Most positions above the GS-7 grade level require specific experience in the field of occupation. One may qualify for any non-science or non-research based position with one year of qualified experience in the grade level just below that to which he or she applies. Few, if any, positions still require the civil service exam, though some within various DHS departments may require special testing.

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