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Learning Center Experience
By Richard Niemann, Faculty, Public Safety Programs
Homeland security is a diverse and dynamic field
with growth potential for those daring enough to accept the challenge. Opportunities
exist for careers in the air, on land, and at sea.
Success in the homeland security field
depends on several factors: your requisite knowledge, skills, and ability in
your current or desired career path. Your success is based on your ability to
work as an individual and as a team player in various settings. Anticipating
and solving complex issues as they develop will demonstrate both leadership and
An example of a situation in which such
skills may be showcased is fugitive apprehension. Law enforcement agents
operating along the border are tasked with identifying and capturing smugglers
or coyotes who have illegally penetrated our borders. As a member of a unit
tracking these dangerous felons, your ability to operate as an individual and
team member to locate and detect a group of smugglers uses your knowledge,
skills, and abilities to capture these dangerous theats. Coordinating a
consolidated effort includes incorporating assets such a air units and the
ability to operate while transmitting specific land navigation coordinates to
other assets on the ground. A coordinated effort to capture those intent on
harming our homeland demonstrates your leadership and skills and your ability
to work with others toward a common goal.
Success in your career requires the
“big three”: knowledge, skills, and the ability. Success will also require you
to understand what you are passionate about, to identify your career
objectives, and to set short- and long-term goals.
Today’s employers are looking for
employees who can enter the homeland security arena ready to operate in their chosen field. This means you will need to demonstrate
your knowledge within your field. Showing that you have knowledge in more than
one area or that you have a particular sought-after skill could set you apart
from others. For instance, having an emergency management degree from an
accredited university and additional training from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA)—for example in the National Incident Management system—is
very attractive to employers who use this framework in their all-hazards
approach to disaster planning. FEMA operates a host of free training courses
that serve many homeland security functions and roles on their website.
Understanding diverse cultures and languages is key in working overseas.
Analytical skills are much sought in today’s homeland security environment and
are easily transferrable in several markets.
Skills are the technical attributes you have
acquired. Skills can be anything from operating a helicopter and providing air
support for drug enforcement operations to programming supercomputers and
Success will also depend on your willingness to
accept additional responsibilities within your field. While these jobs may not
always be glamorous, taking on unpopular assignments will set you apart as a
team player and demonstrate your willingness to be flexible in diverse
environments. Volunteering for unpopular assignments will also broaden your
knowledge and expand your work duties. Consider these assignments as
This is your opportunity to showcase you
knowledge and skills by actually performing the tasks required to complete your
mission. Identify your skills (it doesn’t matter where or when you obtained them),
write them down, and then determine your proficiency.
Identify and focus on your core job strengths and
determine what sets you apart from your peers. What are your special skills;
what is your niche? Are you capable of detecting cyberthreats before they occur
or are you capable of running a “denial of service” operation against a vast cyberterrorist threat? Inventory your
skills and list them—you may be surprised at just how knowledgeable you are. Once
you have an inventory be sure identify how these skills are applicable to your
current and future aspirations.
Develop a career plan and set both short- and long-term
goals, then map out the method to accomplish these goals. Managers or
supervisors should be a part of this process.
Training opportunities, whether in-house or from an
outside contractor, will always give you a competitive edge. While funds to
attend training are always the first cut from an organization’s budget, invest
in yourself and set a personal budget to attend training courses congruent with
your current position. Attending conferences within your discipline allows you
several opportunities to network with others in your field while learning about
the latest trends and best practices.
Joining associations that specialize in
the field of homeland security can also grow your skills. Well-known
organizations such as the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security
provide training, networking, and credentials to validate your current skillset
and provide additional training to enhance and broaden your core knowledge. Organizations
like this should be a definite part of your career inventory and plan for
success in the field of homeland security. University and online training
courses are desirable as well, and a course in another language or culture is highly
desirable prior to overseas assignments. Consider taking a class outside your
discipline to increase knowledge in a peripheral discipline, and subscribe to
trade publications. Always take advantage of training opportunities to obtain
licenses, certifications, and additional credentials that broaden your current skill
inventory and your marketability.
A complex world where
the threats are constantly changing requires professionals who can track, root
out, and stalk the threats that hide among our populace in plain sight. The new
threats facing the homeland are more complex than ever and are willing to wait
patiently to ensure success. Our homeland has seen the products of our
adversaries’ destructive work. Protecting society will require a new breed of
thinking to stop these sophisticated and complex threats. Do you have the
skills and determination to keep the United States safe? Then you might be just
what we are looking for!
Opportunities in Homeland Security
Pursuing a Career in Homeland Security
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And if you are considering pursuing higher education we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University’s programs and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
* Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career advancement.
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