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Schools for Airport Security Professionals: How to Choose

Airport security officers maintain a safe environment by screening or assessing all passengers and luggage that enters the airport. Security professionals and aspiring security officers can find specialized education through certificate and degree programs with online options offered through several U.S. colleges and universities.

Aspiring and active airport security officers can enroll in homeland security certificate programs for specialized airport security training. For those looking to enter supervisory positions within the airport security field, associate and bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice include education in airport security, as well as some management training.

10 Schools for Airport Security Officers

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer security or criminal justice programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition
(2015-2016)*
University of Massachusetts-Lowell Lowell, MA 4-year, Public Certificate, Associate's, Bachelor's In-state $13,427; Out-of-state $29,125
Northern Illinois University Dekalb, IL 4-year, Public Certificate In-state $14,295; Out-of-state $23,761
Excelsior College Albany, NY 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's Not Available
Walter State Community College Morristown, TN 2-year, Public Associate's In-state $3,936; Out-of-state $15,336
Navarro College Corsicana, TX 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-district $2,218; In-state $3,568; Out-of-state $5,068
Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $6,623; Out-of-state $17,016
Loyola University-Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $40,426
Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's In-state $10,970; Out-of-state $17,562
Everest University Orlando, FL 4-year, Private Associate's, Bachelor's $10,980
Integrative Center for Homeland Security College Station, TX Private Certificate Not Available

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are a number of things to consider when selecting an airport security program.

  • When deciding between certificate and degree programs, students should consider career goals, because degree programs require a greater time commitment, students could have the opportunity to complete an airport security internship.
  • Airport security officers screen passengers and luggage for dangerous materials, and officers could face dangerous situations that might require physical interaction and aspiring security officers might benefit from programs that offer courses in emergency management and the handling of hazardous material.
  • Practical experience is an asset when seeking employment, and students should consider if the program offers internships or other opportunities for hands-on experience.
  • Determine if the school provides job placement assistance for graduates seeking work in their field.

Homeland Security Certificate

A certificate in homeland security is designed for individuals working in the field or aspiring to become a security officer. Some schools offer the certificate training in conjunction with a criminal justice degree program to enhance education specific to security issues and procedures. Certificate programs usually consist of 16-18 credit hours, and many are offered online.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Those interested in the social and political implications of law enforcement might consider an associate degree program in criminal justice. Many associate degree programs are offered online and can be completed in two years.

Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

Bachelor degree programs in criminal justice also prepare students for airport security careers. Some schools offer a concentration in homeland security that includes training in how to plan and manage security operations.

Criminal justice degrees and homeland security certificates can be pursued at a number of public and private institutions. While a degree is not necessarily required, security officers must have knowledge of current screening technology and human behavior, which might be learned through a relevant associate or bachelor's degree program.


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