Defending the United States is an endeavor that utilizes professionals with diverse skill sets in a wide array of fields. Homeland security jobs are defined by the ongoing relationship between current or emerging threats and the development of effective safeguards. This is a rapidly changing field that rewards professionals who can adapt to the changing needs of the nation. Specialists in this field should be prepared to add to their repertoire of skills so that they can satisfy the demands of a dynamic and evolving profession.
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The foundation of counter-terrorism is the intelligence that provides actionable insights into the activities of the country’s enemies. Intelligence analysts are the managers of information that is collected from numerous sources including human assets, electronic surveillance, and criminal investigations. Analysts may work within vast intelligence networks like those that the CIA and NSA operate, or they may be on the front lines of intelligence gathering. Some analysts are field operatives deployed to foreign theaters of operation where they are involved in extracting information from criminal or terrorist suspects.
Once the intelligence has been gathered, analysts make assessments to determine the validity and value of the information. They cross reference the information against other intelligence in order to provide recommendations to law enforcement and counter-terrorism units. In recent years, intelligence analysis has become one of the most valued homeland security jobs. These professionals often must sift through mountains of data to find the most pertinent and reliable facts that enable effective homeland security operations.
Homeland Security Careers by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Law Enforcement and Transportation Security
In many homeland security arenas, it is transportation security agents in airports and law enforcement officers with boots on the ground that serve as the initial contact with criminal or terrorist elements. Police, border patrol agents, TSA agents and criminal investigators are often the most important defense against foreign and domestic enemies.
These law enforcement professionals utilize their training and expertise in searches, investigations, and interrogation to help re-create crimes. It is often community law enforcement officers who first stumble upon a terrorist operation and utilize their skills to unravel and stop an attack.
The effects of terrorist attacks upon the business community have been a priority for many enterprises. In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, more companies are devoting resources to business continuity planning. If a terrorist attack or natural disaster were to eliminate or paralyze part of a company’s operations, this could prove catastrophic.
Professionals who are able to develop strategies for companies prior to a major crisis are a fast growing sector of the homeland security profession. Not only do these plans provide critical insights that allow companies to continue operation following a major incident, these plans help identify ways the company can respond to major changes in the business environment, allowing the company to be more nimble and competitive.
The role of information in the public and private sector has grown dramatically in the past few years. Major viruses and cyber-attacks have grabbed the headlines as billions of dollars’ worth of information have been stolen or destroyed. Many of the major instigators of these cyber-attacks have been sovereign governments, but some of the most damaging attacks on the business community have originated from cyber terrorist or activist groups like Anonymous.
Computers play such an integral role in many organizations that cyber security has become a major priority throughout the business world. The FBI has labeled the theft or destruction of proprietary information one of the greatest threats to the US economy. Homeland security professionals in a variety of sectors will need to acquire skills in information security in order to protect their organizations from breaches.
While the majority of homeland security careers are devoted to the prevention of attacks, there is a substantial number of jobs that are concerned with the aftermath of such attacks. Emergency management personnel are typically found in public agencies like fire rescue or EMS. State and federal planning officials operate with emergency management agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One of the most critical responsibilities of emergency management professionals is training first responders, public officials and volunteers so that they may adequately prepare for a crisis. Emergency management professionals have taken the lessons learned from recent terrorist incidents and natural disasters to produce more effective response strategies. This involves optimized communications systems and logistical networks that can provide critical resources and personnel to affected areas.