Just 11 days after September 11, 2001, the Director of the Office of Homeland Security was formed, with Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge at the helm. The first order of business: coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the nation against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.
Then, in November 2002, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act, thereby declaring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the standalone, Cabinet-level federal agency to further coordinate the country’s homeland security efforts.
The vision of the DHS is clear: ensure that our homeland is safe, secure and resilient against terror attacks and other hazards. The DHS recognizes three, basic concepts that provide the foundation of the national security strategy: Security, Resilience, and Customs and Exchange.
The DHS also recognizes that there are hundreds of thousands of people from across all levels of government and in the private sector and nongovernmental organizations who are responsible for executing the mission of the DHS. From public safety and security to the operation of the country’s critical infrastructure and services, homeland security professionals work to achieve DHS’s vision on a daily basis.
The passage of the Homeland Security Act also reorganized a number of federal agencies under the DHS umbrella. As such, the department components of this massive, federal agency include:
- United States Secret Service (USSS)
- United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- Science and Technology Directorate
- Office of Policy
- United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Office of Operations Coordination and Planning
- Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A)
- Office of Health Affairs
- United States Coast Guard
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
- Directorate for National Protection and Programs (NPPD)
- Directorate for Management
The Missions of the Department of Homeland Security
The missions of the DHS include:
- Preventing terrorism and enhancing security by:
- Preventing terrorist attacks
- Preventing chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials and capabilities within the U.S.
- Reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to terrorist attacks and other hazards
- Securing and managing our borders by:
- Securing U.S. air, land and sea points of entry
- Safeguarding legal trade and travel
- Disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations
- Enforcing and administering immigration laws by:
- The smart and effective enforcement of U.S. immigration laws
- Reforming immigration enforcement and prioritizing the identification and removal of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety
- Safeguarding and securing cyberspace by:
- Analyzing and reducing cyber threats and vulnerabilities
- Distributing threat warnings
- Coordinating the response to cyber incidents
- Ensuring resilience to disasters by:
- Maturing the strengthening the homeland security enterprise
- Encouraging information sharing and collaboration
- Providing grants, plans and training to homeland security and law enforcement partners
Jobs with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Other Agencies
Careers in the Department of Homeland Security are as varied as the agency itself. Jobs in the DHS help secure our nation’s borders; they help response efforts in the event of natural disasters and terrorist attacks; and they are involved in the development of the latest security technologies to fight cyber-attacks. And that’s just the beginning.
Homeland security jobs may be best organized into the following areas:
- Mission Support: These DHS personnel work in training, intelligence, detection, procurement, budget, human resources, and planning and coordination, and more. Mission support jobs are found in all agencies of the Department of Homeland Security.
- Law Enforcement: Law enforcement personnel in the DHS provide protection for the President and visiting world leaders; they secure the nation’s borders; they enforce immigration laws; and they secure infrastructure security, just to name a few. Agencies include:
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
- Federal Protective Service
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- U.S. Secret Service
- Immigration and Travel Security: DHS professions in immigration and travel security are focused on protecting our nation’s transportation systems and overseeing lawful immigration. Agencies include:
- Transportation and Security Administration (TSA)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Prevention and Response: DHS careers in prevention and response are focused on protecting the public, the economic and security interests of the country, protecting the environment, and providing preparedness, protection, response, recovery and mitigation services. Agencies include:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- U.S. Coast Guard
Degree and Training Requirements for Homeland Security Jobs
Although education and training requirements vary widely within the DHS, many individuals pursuing careers in this agency and its related homeland security agencies choose to seek a formal degree program from an accredited college or university. Luckily, there are many bachelor’s and graduate programs in programs related to homeland security, including:
- Criminal justice
- Police science
- Emergency management
- Homeland security
- Forensic psychology
Training is also an important component of the vast majority of law enforcement, immigration and travel security, and prevention and response jobs. Most training programs within the DHS begin at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), an interagency organization that provides travel to more than 90 federal agencies, as well as countless state, national and international law enforcement agencies.