Homeland Security Specialist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Homeland security is generally offered at the undergraduate degree or certificate level. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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As a homeland security specialist, you can work as an EMT, firefighter or emergency management director. If you are interested in one of these careers, having a high school education, bachelor's degree, or basic training can help you get started.

Essential Information

Homeland security specialists are trained to develop and implement anti-terrorism and emergency preparation and response programs. Some homeland security specialists are former military personnel or emergency responders. Many professionals in this field are considered homeland security specialists, and the training for each varies by position.

Career Title Emergency Management Director Firefighter Emergency Medical Technician
Required Education Bachelor's degree At least a high school diploma EMT-Basic training
Other Requirements Related work experience Fire academy training, EMT training, added homeland security training might be needed State licensure, certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-24)* 6% 5% 24% (EMTs and paramedics)
Median Salary (2015)* $67,330 $46,870 $31,980 (EMTs and paramedics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of Homeland Security Specialists

Homeland security specialists can work for governmental agencies or private corporations. A main component of a homeland security specialist's job description is to protect local, state and federal infrastructure in the event of disaster or terrorist attack. Homeland security specialists might also be trained in other primary fields, including law enforcement or emergency medical services. Homeland security specialists usually work within a team of other security specialists.

Job Duties of Homeland Security Specialists

The duties of a homeland security specialist involve developing programs that are intended to respond to emergencies, such as natural disasters, hazardous materials spills or terrorist attacks on the country. They might interact and coordinate with other homeland security specialists at local, state or federal levels to develop, maintain or enhance emergency and terrorism response programs. These specialists may be found implementing training programs for other emergency response professionals within hospitals and fire or police departments. Additionally, they might work with educational institutions or private corporations to development and implement emergency plans.

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Job Requirements for Becoming a Homeland Security Specialist

For those interested in working in homeland security, holding a bachelor's degree - preferably in homeland security, emergency management or a similar discipline - is a common educational requirement. Some homeland security specialists have completed training as a police or security officer or were in the military. Certificate and associate degree programs also exist in emergency management, homeland security or similar emergency response disciplines. Students who want to further their studies in the field will also find several master's degree programs in homeland security.

Becoming a homeland security specialist requires receiving training in terrorism, risk assessment and planning, crisis and emergency management, disaster recovery planning and hazardous materials. Typically, individuals going into the homeland security field must submit to an extensive background check and be fingerprinted.

Career Options

Homeland security specialists are needed in many different places in an emergency, from initial responders and those who deal with the problem firsthand to specialists who direct others and create plans to deal with problems before and as they arise. Some of these careers are explored below.

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors are one type of homeland security specialist. They create procedures for use in responding to emergencies. Also, they direct other personnel and coordinate with local agencies during actual emergencies. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual wage for emergency management directors was $67,330. The BLS projects that the number of emergency management directors will increase by 6% from 2014 to 2024.


Firefighters are often some of the first personnel on the scene of an emergency. They also fight fire, provide fire education and rescue people from unsafe buildings or vehicles. The BLS, as of May 2015, reports that firefighters made a median salary of $46,870. The BLS also predicts that positions for firefighters will increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024.

Emergency Medical Technician

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide medical care for people at the scenes of emergencies and transport them to medical facilities as necessary. There are three levels of EMT, the highest of which is a paramedic. Paramedics can provide more advanced care than an EMT. According to the BLS, the median salary of EMTs and paramedics was $31,980 as of May 2015. Job opportunities for these positions are predicted to increase by 24% between 2014 and 2024.

Depending on the field in which you work as a homeland security specialist, you will need a high school diploma, bachelor's degree, or emergency training, and master's degree programs are available. Job duties vary for EMTs, firefighters, and emergency management directors, from providing on-site medical attention during a crisis to instituting emergency procedures. Salary and job growth for all three professions also vary, although employment opportunities for EMTs are expected to grow faster than average through the year 2024.

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