Although the homeland security profession is still young and continually maturing, certification within the industry is an essential means of demonstrating proficiency and knowledge. Like most other industries, certification programs in homeland security are primarily found in post-secondary schools or professional trade associations. Successful completion of these programs can prove to be quite lucrative for graduates. The designations awarded to graduates can be highly advantageous during the hiring or client acquisition process.
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Homeland security certification programs typically provide an introduction to the concepts, procedures and issues that are foundational to the industry. More specialized programs may also provide more structured and practical information about narrower areas within the field, like cyber security or intelligence analysis. Much of the instruction may provide popular skills and knowledge that has been successful in other regions. These competencies can prove essential to developing homeland security strategies and policies.
Leaders in the field usually staff the organizations that provide certification programs. In an industry that is as young as homeland security, the professors and instructors are often the pioneers who have crafted national or state policies or worked with agency leaders. Most of these instructors have hands-on experience that transfers readily to students who are seeking more success in their careers or greater efficacy within their agency initiatives.
Unlike degree programs that provide academic instruction to undergraduate and graduate students, certification programs offered by colleges and universities cater to professionals who are already at work in the homeland security field. These certification programs do not require the four year or two year investment that a degree program would, and the instructors of these programs are often the same as those in the school’s homeland security studies department.
Academic certification programs tend to be more time intensive than those provided by professional associations. A common certificate program offered by a prestigious academic institution required completion of at least five of the following courses:
- Homeland Security
- International and Domestic Terrorism
- Leadership Application Course in Criminal Justice
- Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Administration
- Ethics and Integrity in Homeland Security
- National Security Policy
- Topics in Homeland Security
These courses are almost identical to those offered through their master’s degree program, but may be completed within a more flexible time frame. Many homeland security professionals may complete the program at night while still working full time, while others opt to complete the program while on sabbatical from their jobs. The courses completed in graduate certificate programs also usually confer course credits that may be applied towards a master’s or doctor’s degree if those become an objective.
One of the key advantages of academic certification programs is their accessibility. In addition to being quite flexible in their scheduling, most programs recognize that the students are working concurrently. Therefore, they allow instruction to be accessed live in the classroom or online through video or text. Many of the most respected certificate programs are available through national schools that provide instruction exclusively online.
Certification through industry organizations is usually geared more towards denoting current knowledge. These organizations recognize that professionals at work in the field often do not require additional education. Rather the purpose of these certificate programs is to test the breadth of knowledge the student possesses, and then awarding the appropriate industry designation. Recertification on a periodic basis is required to maintain these designations.
- American Board for Certification in Homeland Security—is one of the most prestigious certifying bodies in the homeland security industry. It also offers a diverse selection of certification programs in several specialties that require successful passage of a certifying exam:
- Anti-Sabotage Certified—requires knowledge and techniques for identifying and preventing acts of sabotage
- Certified in Homeland Security I-III—requires knowledge of the history of terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Response Plan
- Certified in Homeland Security IV—requires knowledge of the Incident Command System, National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework
- Certified in Homeland Security V—requires knowledge of prevention, response, mitigation and advanced topics
- Certified in Disaster Preparedness—requires knowledge and skills in planning for disasters
- Certified National Threat Analyst—requires knowledge o
- Domestic terrorism
- Financing terrorism
- Radical Islamic terrorism
- School safety and security
- Terrorism Trauma Syndrome
- 21st Century terrorism
- National Domestic Preparedness Coalition—is a partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association and the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition
- Certified Homeland Protection Professional (CHPP)
- Certified Homeland Protection Associate (CHPA)