Published On: Tue, Jan 27th, 2015

Homeland Security: Another Way People Serve Their Countries in a Post-9/11 World

On January 7, two gunmen pulled up to the Charlie Hebdo building in Rue Nicolas-Appert. Fully armed, they burst into No. 6 before they realized that their target was in No. 10. They shot the caretaker and forced one of the magazine’s employees to give them the security code for the offices. When they got inside, they shot the magazine’s editor, the editor’s bodyguard, four cartoonists, three editorial staff members, and a guest who was attending a meeting.

As they fled the scene, the gunmen shot a police officer from a distance, wounding him. One attacker then closed in on the officer and shot him dead at close range. The next day, another gunman affiliated with the Charlie Hebdo attackers killed a policewoman and injured another victim. On January 9, after barricading themselves inside a printing firm, the gunmen emerged from the building, firing their weapons and injuring two more police officers, before the police shot them dead.

Photo By Bill Koplitz/FEMA

Photo By Bill Koplitz/FEMA

Fighting overseas wars as a member of the military isn’t the only way to combat terrorism. Many people serve their countries by working in homeland security. They respond to domestic terrorism, monitor intelligence channels, and stop attacks when they can, before innocent people get hurt. People who work for homeland security don’t just say “Je suis Charlie.” They make a difference, every day, by helping to keep America safe.

Law Enforcement Jobs

When most people picture homeland security work, they think of law enforcement. People with law enforcement experience or criminal justice degrees can find work as Border Patrol agents, TSA inspectors, and criminal investigators. Those who earn a master’s degree in criminal justice can manage law enforcement teams and even agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They can also lead state and local homeland security efforts.

Many law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, struggle to recruit new officers. The number of applicants for entry-level exams have dropped significantly in some areas of the country, and many officials blame increased public scrutiny in the wake of Ferguson and other highly publicized police-civilian altercations. With recruitment down for all kinds of law enforcement positions, officials need qualified applicants now more than ever before. For people with criminal justice degrees and experience, now is a great time to get a job.

More Than Just Policing

Many people work in homeland security but have no law enforcement training. DHS employs accountants, chemists, economists, linguists, HR personnel, statisticians, psychologists, and more. One area of big demand for homeland security jobs is the field of cybersecurity. According to Cisco, there were over a million unfilled cybersecurity jobs, worldwide, in 2014. To address the shortfall, the National Security Agency has introduced a National Centers for Excellence, Cyber Operations Program that, as of last all, included 13 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Unfortunately, many qualified candidates fail to get hired or have to wait to get jobs because of the government’s antiquated rules related to drug use. For example, DHS might not hire a highly qualified candidate with a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity if he’s smoked marijuana within the past three years. According to David Bonvillain, a cybersecurity recruiter, no one who’s smoked pot more than six times can get an FBI security clearance.

Sometimes, the people most qualified for the job don’t meet the government’s clean-cut standards. Bonvillain doesn’t just recruit from top graduate programs. He recruits security engineers from local hackathons and other types of amateur hacker events. For people with cyber security skills and a clean drug history, getting a good-paying job has never been easier. As more government officials warn that America faces a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” DHS needs qualified people on the frontlines of the cyberwar.

Good Benefits

A job in homeland security, like most public sector jobs, comes with good benefits. Most homeland security workers enjoy paid leave, medical and dental coverage, life insurance, and retirement plan options. Increasingly, DHS also recognizes the need for flexible work schedules. Terrorists work around the clock, so DHS needs professionals ready to respond night and day, every day of the year.

In a world weary of terrorism, the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks remind everyone how important it is to remain vigilant against both international and domestic terrorist threats. America needs qualified homeland security professionals now more than ever before.

Guest Author: Paul Smith

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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