Homeland security is one of the most essential career fields in the United States, and we mean that quite literally. Day in and day out, homeland security professionals work to prevent, prepare for, and respond to threats nationwide, including natural disasters, disease epidemics, cyber breaches, and terrorist attacks. These workers help to shrink the Nation’s vulnerabilities, minimize any incurred damage from catastrophic events, and ultimately safeguard the people and places within its borders.
If you are looking for an impactful and esteemed career in law enforcement, homeland security is one of the best routes you can take. It is highly a rewarding field, both personally and professionally. In addition to an exciting career protecting others, homeland security professionals (whether in government or non-profit agencies) can look forward to great earning potential and room for growth over the years.
Homeland Security Salary Overview
The homeland security field is diverse, dynamic, and multi-disciplinary. As we discussed in a recent article, there are various sectors, agencies, and departments within the homeland security field. You can work within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (the heartbeat of the field) as a government agent, or as an Information Security Analyst for a private organization. Depending on your employer, title, and place of work, your homeland security salary potential will vary. Homeland security salaries can also fluctuate from state to state.
Most jobs in homeland security are housed within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a federal organization employing workers in border patrol, IT security, and everything in between. Typically, federal employees are paid based on the government’s General Schedule (GS) pay tables, which can be found on the US Office of Personnel Management website.
According to PayScale.com, the average homeland security salary for DHS workers is about $76,000 annually. However, some sources cite the pay potential is even greater. According to FederalPay, for example, the average homeland security salary is over $115,000 annually. Again, this scale will vary depending on the exact position and employer.
Homeland Security Salaries by Career
The homeland security field is vast, with pay scales fluctuating by position and experience. To give you an idea of earning potential, Goodwin College lists some of the most in-demand homeland security careers and average salaries below.
- Information Security Analysts – Information Security Analysts, also known as IT Security Specialists and cybercrime-fighters, are responsible for protecting an organization’s computer networks and systems. This is becoming an increasingly important role across the United States, as the number of cyber-attacks continues to increase across the nation. Due to the complexities and importance of their work, Informational Security Analysts can expect to earn an average salary of $95,510 per year.
- FBI Special Agents – FBIAgents are responsible for investigating national security violations, such as bank robberies, terrorism, corruption, cybercrime, organized crime, espionage and drug trafficking. Working under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can mean a promising salary. In May 2017, federal investigators earned a median salary of $84,660 annually.
- Emergency Management Directors – Emergency Management Directors help communities prepare for and respond to natural disasters. They may work for national agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or in regional agencies handling local 911 services (fire, medical, or other). Currently, these critical responders earn an average annual salary of $72,760 per year, with top-paying positions in the Federal Executive Branch at nearly $150,000 per year.
- Border Patrol Agents – If you were drawn to homeland security because you wish to protect the nation’s borders, a career as a Border Patrol Agent (BPA) may be for you. Border Patrol Agents prevent people and items from entering the country illegally. They work with immigration officers to ensure proper legalities are completed for newcomers, and stop any illegal paraphernalia (such as weapons and drugs) in their tracks. Today, Border Patrol Agents can expect a starting salary of over $52,000 per year, but can quickly grow that to over $83,000 within three years’ time, according to government sources.
- Transportation Security Screeners and Agents – Transportation Security Agents are responsible for screening travelers baggage or cargo in compliance with TSA regulations. They can be found in the airport, government facilities, and even in hospitals. The mean annual wage for TSA officers is about $41,000 annually, but this varies by place of work. Those working in freight or in hospitals can look forward to the highest salary potential. Following Alaska, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Connecticut as the top-paying state in the U.S. for transportation security agents.
As with any career, homeland security salaries will be much higher for those supervisory roles, or with more years of experience. For example, while a Border Patrol Agent may start with a salary of $52,000 annually, a Border Patrol Supervisory Agent can expect to start with an annual salary closer to $87,000.
The Department of Homeland Security extends more than just comfortable pay to its employees, too. According to the DHS website, there is a strong potential for performance-based salary increases, tuition reimbursement, paid vacation and leave, and a thriving employee recognition program. In addition, federal homeland security professionals are offered an array of health insurance, life insurance, and retirement plans, coupled with the potential to retire at a much younger age in many positions.
How to Secure a Job in Homeland Security
Much like homeland security salaries, the educational requirements for this field can vary greatly, as well. Most homeland security careers today, however, require a postsecondary homeland security degree. As noted earlier, these professionals are critical members of the workforce. And as such, there are certain skillsets (such as critical-thinking or leadership skills) and knowledge bases (such as computer science or national policies) that required for the job. A college-level homeland security education demonstrates preparation, dedication, competency, and ability to tackle any homeland security job.
Homeland security degrees are offered at different levels and areas of study. Goodwin College, for example, offers an associate degree in homeland security. Graduates from this program often find successful careers in areas such as:
- Computer Security
- Customs and Border Protection
- Fire Science
- Cybercrime Investigation
- Emergency Management
- First Response
Many students looking to secure a job in homeland security will start with an associate degree. They may then launch their careers, and go back for a bachelor’s degree later down the road to advance in their career. Some top-paying, federal homeland security careers will also require a bachelor’s degree. For those interested in attending Goodwin College, you can also pursue a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety and Security, which will prepare you for a career in:
- National Security
- Corporate Security
- Emergency Management
- Law Enforcement
- A variety of Homeland Security Agencies
Security threats against the nation are ever-evolving. And as a result, so is the work of homeland security professionals. Today, you can find homeland security careers across numerous disciplines, with job possibilities for nearly every level of education and experience. Whether you wish to be at the forefront of the homeland security field, protecting borders and investigating crime, or in the background, working to protect and preserve citizens’ personal data, there is a career for you.
Are you ready to launch your career as a protector? Learn more about the growing homeland security field, or about the homeland security degree program at Goodwin College, by calling 800-889-3282 today. You may also visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.