Homeland security agents serve central roles in safeguarding American citizens. They may be stationed in the United States or in other countries, where they oversee international affairs and national security initiatives. Agents are employed by the Department of Homeland Security and work in airports, along waterways, and at U.S. borders. At each location, agents patrol designated areas to identify risks posed by individuals and suspicious materials.
What Does a Homeland Security Agent Do?
The homeland security agent job description reads a lot like a suspense novel. Agents assess possible terror threats from individuals and groups, and they prevent people from smuggling illegal substances into the country. They also investigate and help create security technologies that keep people safe during natural disasters and terrorist attacks. To perform their jobs effectively, most agents are trained to read and evaluate intelligence reports.
Homeland security agents are stationed throughout the world, and their responsibilities and work environments vary greatly. Some of the agencies that depend on homeland security agents include:
- U.S. Capitol Police
- Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
- U.S. Secret Service
- Federal Protective Service
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Transportation Security Administration and Park Services
Many homeland security agents work in office settings where they track, assess, and follow terrorist risks. Others specialize in field operations and scout for illegal activity at U.S. borders. Patrolling the perimeters of international airports, shipping terminals, and seaports is another common assignment for homeland security agents.
How Much Do Homeland Security Agents Earn?
Salaries for homeland security agents depend on experience, location, and the assignment specifics. PayScale reports that the average annual salary for employees of the Department of Homeland Security is about $74,000 per year. Like most government jobs, benefits include paid sick and vacation time, insurance, and retirement options. Many agents are also attracted by the opportunity to work overseas.
How Do I Become a Homeland Security Agent?
A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a homeland security agent. Additionally, specialized experience can help applicants position themselves for these positions. To gain this experience, students should seek internship opportunities within law enforcement agencies during college. They should also pursue training opportunities and mentorships that teach them to handle evidence, conduct investigations, and analyze data. Finally, applicants must undergo extensive interviews and background checks.
Concordia University, St. Paul offers a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice. With these programs, you can develop skills needed to succeed as an applicant for homeland security roles. Learn from faculty with real-world criminal justice experience as you explore topics that are relevant to homeland security. Both programs follow a flexible online format, enabling you to complete your coursework at a time and place that works best for you.