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Homeland Security Degrees and Certification in Virginia

Unfortunately, Virginia has a long history of involvement with some of the nation’s most terrifying terrorist incidents.  On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 lifted off from Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.  After being hijacked, Flight 77 crashed into the northwestern side of the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.  The crash killed 58 passengers, six crew members and 125 Pentagon personnel.  More than 106 people were later treated at hospitals for related injuries. The resulting damage to the facility was estimated at $250 million.

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Virginia was also the site of the worst school shooting in the nation’s history.  On April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho shot and killed 32 students and professors, and injured 17 others.  Cho had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and court ordered for treatment.  Cho had purchased a .22 caliber handgun and a 9 mm Glock handgun prior to the massacre without any background checks.

Office of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security

Due to the tragic events that have befallen the state and its strategic importance, the state of Virginia has one of the most well-developed homeland security systems in the country.  The state agency overseeing homeland security is the Office of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.  In a 2009 Terrorism Threat Assessment, Virginia recognized its critical importance to the nation as well as its susceptibility to terrorist attacks.  Due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., the presence of the Pentagon, military bases, two nuclear plants and a major seaport, Virginia is a rich target environment for potential terrorists.

Qualifications for Homeland Security Jobs in Virginia

Virginia is home to many private companies in the defense industry who hire homeland security personnel.  One of these, Booz Allen Hamilton, posted a vacancy for a Defense Research Analyst with the following qualifications:

  • Possession of a BA or BS degree in statistics, operations research or related field
  • Experience with Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint
  • Ability to obtain Top Secret clearance
  • Knowledge of professional consulting, with preference for the defense industry
  • Knowledge of project management
  • Experience with Lean Six Sigma
  • Ability to utilize statistical methods, math programming, and stochastic or deterministic modeling
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills

Due to its proximity to the nation’s capital, many of the training programs for homeland security professionals can be obtained from federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Most of the universities and colleges in the state provide students with associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctor’s degrees in fields like

  • Homeland security studies
  • Terrorism studies
  • Criminal justice
  • Emergency preparedness
  • International studies
  • Public administration

Many of these schools also offer certification programs that provide students or professionals with intensive instruction in general or specialized areas of homeland security.

There are also several nationally recognized industry organizations that accredit homeland security professionals.  These include the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security and the National Disaster Preparedness Coalition.