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Those who are interested in immigration, passionate about cybersecurity, or dedicated to assisting others need look no further than the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Created as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks, the DHS is an umbrella organization that encompasses multiple agencies previously acting separately from one another. Now under one cabinet-level department, these agencies work together in response to emergencies, intentional and unintentional disasters, security risks and to protect the U.S.

Homeland security is a broad term that encompasses more than defense against attacks; it includes securing the U.S. border, regulating immigration, enforcing cybersecurity, protecting the president, and preventing and recovering from disasters. Homeland security requires an expansive commitment to protecting the U.S. which, in turn, means offering fulfilling careers to Americans.

A career within the DHS requires more than interest and passion, however. It requires highly coveted skills and commitment. Being able to communicate effectively, solve problems and focus on details are a few of the abilities needed in most DHS jobs. It is also important to note that U.S. citizenship is a major requirement.

The following is a brief history of how the DHS came to be, along with some careers within the DHS that offer unique and interesting responsibilities in the service of protecting the U.S.

The Creation and Growth of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The attacks of 9/11 united the nation as it realized everyone was vulnerable to terrorism. Eleven days after the horrible events, the newly created Office of Homeland Security was spurred to action. Led by its first director, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, the organization began to shape its foundations as a soon-to-come department.

A year later, in 2002, the Homeland Security Act passed the nation’s legislature and the Department of Homeland Security was born. It unified national security efforts by integrating 22 other government departments and agencies to function more efficiently and effectively. Some of these separate entities include the U.S. Customs Service, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As the formulation of the DHS was one of the largest government reorganizational tasks undertaken, modification and growth were needed to perfect this suddenly larger government department. Two evaluations took place — one in 2005 and the other in 2010 — that scrutinized its operation and organization, making changes where necessary. It was the 2010 review and reorganization — led by then DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano — that perfected the homeland security goals with which the U.S. is familiar today.

Immigration Services Officer

Annual Salary: $34,999 – $68,942

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is one of the components under the DHS. It is responsible for enforcing immigration regulations and granting citizenship. Among their career opportunities is the position of immigration services officers.

These men and women represent a strong immigration system that protects against threats while offering citizenship for those who want to start a life in the U.S. They work to carry out ICE responsibilities through duties such as: processing immigration applications, identifying people who are a threat-risk, and interviewing immigration applicants.

IT Specialist

Annual Salary: $85,816 – $145, 629

The DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications offers careers that are responsible for fortifying the security and strength of information technology infrastructures. IT specialists serve as the defense against cyber attacks on the U.S., a key occupation now more than ever.

As the world races toward the future of connectivity, online systems and virtual intelligence, IT specialists have become increasingly crucial. Their responsibilities include: providing cybersecurity evaluations, creating reliable networks, anticipating and minimizing IT system risk, and updating security requirements. It is a field that continues to expand at a rapid rate, and requires people who can adapt quickly to changing situations.

Emergency Management Specialist

Annual Salary: $76,903 – $99,997

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), another branch under the DHS, provides the nation’s defense and response to disasters. Those who desire to work in a job that is dedicated to helping those in dire situations should consider the role of emergency management specialist.

These specialists help, and in some cases save the lives of those in need. The position offers some unique job responsibilities. Specialists must be able to work at a moment’s notice, and potentially in dangerous situations. Emergencies happen suddenly and randomly, so being flexible is extremely important. Among the position’s standard duties are: coordinating recovery efforts, working with other agencies to benefit victims, preparing for emergencies, and helping state and local officials understand public assistance regulations during and after a crisis.

The Never-Ending Need for Homeland Security

The U.S. will always need to provide protection, regulation and assistance for its citizens. That’s what the DHS does best. In tandem with the nation’s growing ‘homeland’ needs, is the need for passionate and knowledgeable professionals who want to commit to the security and safety of the nation. Whether it be interviewing and welcoming immigrants, protecting the country’s cyber infrastructure, or assisting those affected by disaster, the DHS offers job roles that can be uniquely fulfilling and exciting.

Learn More:

Earning a master’s in emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University can help you increase your knowledge of the safety industry and demonstrate a continued commitment to learning and leadership. Whether you aspire to work at the governmental level or move into the private sector, our distinguished faculty of safety professionals delivers a comprehensive curriculum that can translate wherever safety matters most.

Recommended Readings:

4 Careers in Emergency Management

The Demand for Safety Professionals in the U.S

Eight Skills of a Successful Public Safety Leader