Students may choose to earn a certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree in counterterrorism studies. This field generally focuses on the prevention of and response to emergencies and terrorist acts. Course topics range from investigation methods to weaponry used by terrorists. Such studies can prepare graduates to seek employment in government agencies, private security firms, corporate security departments, or emergency management companies. Some positions might require further training or professional certification.
Both undergraduate degrees mandate students have a high school education, while certificate programs require a bachelor's degree.
Certificate in Homeland Security
A homeland security program doesn't just focus on counterterrorism; it also helps prepare students to respond to a natural disaster. Most programs offer concentrations in IT security, emergency response and administration, biochemical research, and environmental and health risk management. Certificate courses cover a range of topics from leadership skills to electronic security. Common course topics are listed below:
- Global relations
- Counterterrorism practices
- Technology and security
- Peace and religion
- Inter-military relations
Associate Degree in Homeland Security
Associate degree programs in homeland security offer a thorough overview of the Department of Homeland Security's structure and jurisdictions. This degree program aims to prepare students to work in areas related to domestic, international, environmental, and cyber security. Some programs provide additional courses in crime prevention, security, emergency response management, and counterterrorism. Homeland security students learn emergency leadership, investigative skills, and ethics, along with anti-terrorism tactics. Some course topics students may study are listed below:
- Terrorist weaponry
- Methods of terrorism
- Emergency planning and preparedness
- Crime prevention tools
- Criminal justice and ethical issues
Bachelor's Degree in Homeland Security
Bachelor's degree programs in homeland security are generally offered through a school's criminal justice department. Graduates are prepared for management positions in a variety of fields. Program graduates may choose to enter public or private security, investigation, or emergency response fields. Students studying homeland security complete classes that focus on laws, governments, and politics. Students are taught these topics with a counterterrorism focus. Most schools require a culminating internship before graduation. Possible class topics are listed below:
- Aeronautic and space security
- Anti-terrorism techniques and technologies
- Security ethics, laws and regulations
- Criminology and investigation
- Electronic evidence
Those who might want a certificate in homeland security include emergency medical and relief staff, corporate administrators, security and intelligence track students, and neighborhood safety committee members. Some jobs where employees may find this certificate useful are listed below:
- Emergency medical technician
- Vulnerability detection and assessment specialist
- Neighborhood Watch committee member
With an associate degree, graduates are prepared to enter civil and national security positions. Other areas for which students may find this degree useful include first response organizations and corrections. Some such positions may require additional certification. Job titles include:
- Emergency systems coordinator
- Cyber incident responder
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Most counterterrorism positions are with the federal government. According to research done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of job opportunities for intelligence analysts, criminal investigators, and special agents should see little to no change from 2018-2028. These workers make a median annual wage of $81,920, as of 2018 (www.bls.gov).
Students in certificate, associate's, and bachelor's programs in homeland security learn about counterterrorism principles, as well as general safety protocol and disaster preparedness strategies. Each level of education focuses on different areas of homeland security, preparing students for a variety of jobs.