Several colleges and universities in the U.S. offer associate's degree programs in homeland security. These programs prepare individuals to handle criminal and civil justice cases, create emergency management plans, coordinate disaster recovery efforts, and combat domestic and international terrorism. Students learn how to translate this specialized classroom instruction into practical expertise that can be used throughout the security industry.
Prerequisites include possession of a high school diploma or GED, completing a entrance placement exam, high school transcripts, completed application, and letters of reference. Earning an associate's degree in this field could lead to entry-level work with government agencies, as well as private and non-profit organizations.
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Associate's Degree in Homeland Security
Students in a homeland security associate's degree program learn how to protect the United States at home and abroad. Students learn tactical strategies for protecting public and private physical plants, grounds, and buildings as well as for safeguarding virtual intelligence. Some potential course topics include:
- International terrorism
- Disaster planning
- Emergency management
Employment and Salary Prospects
An associate's degree in homeland security may lead to entry-level employment in governmental and private security agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed security guards is projected to increase 5% between 2014 and 2024, which is about an average level of job growth. As of May 2015, security guards earned an average salary of $28,460. Other possible job options include:
- Customs officer
- Immigration service agent
- Border patrol officer
- Police officer
Continuing Education Information
An associate's degree program in homeland security provides a solid foundation for security professionals. Additionally, it often serves as a springboard in the pursuit of advanced undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Although many homeland security professionals hold an associate's degree, most pursue a bachelor's or master's degree. These degree levels make it possible for individuals to compete for top-level and highly competitive homeland security positions.
Homeland security professionals may also pursue degrees in criminal justice and criminal law. These degree programs prepare students to handle man-made and natural disasters, bioterrorism threats, agricultural safety issues, and international and domestic terrorism plots. Graduates often become border patrol officers, immigration officers, secret service agents, and customs agents.
Earning an associate's degree in homeland security will qualify students for several job fields including security guard and border patrol officer, among others. However, many students will elect to pursue a bachelor or master's degree in homeland security or criminal justice to expand their career options and salary expectations.