If you’d like a career that involves protecting people or property, then an online homeland security associate’s degree could help you get ready for that line of work.
Earning a college degree in this field may give you an advantage over other applicants when you apply for jobs in law enforcement, security management, or cybersecurity.
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An associate degree can also lead to a higher degree in this field. Whatever your security and protection goals, an associate degree in homeland security might be the first step toward achieving the role of your dreams.
Online Homeland Security Associate’s Degrees
Homeland security aims to keep everyone safe. Professionals in this field protect local and national interests. They guard people, buildings, goods, and information. Their efforts might keep others safe from terrorist attacks, chemical spills, natural disasters, or infectious diseases.
To get started in this field, you could earn an online associate degree in homeland security. During this program, you might study:
- Crisis management
- Hazard mitigation
- Law and order
- Planning and preparedness
Some students complete internships with local groups, such as law enforcement or security agencies. Associate degrees in homeland security often include related fields of study. For instance, some programs cover emergency management and homeland security, while others pair studies in criminal justice and homeland security.
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After graduation, you might look for jobs related to local or national security. Graduates often go into law enforcement, private security, transportation security, or public safety telecommunications. At some colleges, an associate degree is just the beginning. Graduates may be able to transfer into a related program at the same college or another school.
Your associate degree courses may align with the requirements for a bachelors degree in homeland security or criminal justice. A bachelor’s degree could help you qualify for leadership opportunities in emergency management, cybersecurity, or law enforcement.
Homeland Security Careers & Salaries
People who earn an online homeland security associate degree often plan to enter jobs related to protecting people, property, or ideas. With this degree, you might be a good candidate for various jobs in security or criminal justice.
Some graduates go on to become police officers. While college isn’t required for most policing positions, having a degree could demonstrate your commitment and your foundation in safety and protection. Promotions to leadership or detective roles in some agencies may require at least a bachelor’s degree.
In addition to online associates degrees, a growing number of universities also offer online bachelors and even online masters in homeland security. Some professionals with bachelors degrees may go on to earn an online graduate certificate in homeland security.
Some specialized police officers guard certain forms of transit, such as railroads. Others work as border patrol agents. Your homeland security knowledge might apply to these specialized roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, protective service occupations bring in a median annual salary of $46,590.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Information Security Analysts||$102,600|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$83,640|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,730|
|Transit and Railroad Police||$64,930|
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers||$64,610|
|First-Line Supervisors of Protective Service Workers||$61,010|
|Public Safety Telecommunicators||$46,670|
|Transportation Security Screeners||$45,470|
|Gambling Surveillance Officers and Investigators||$35,450|
The above salary figures are based on national averages, and reaching the median pay level for certain positions may require obtaining additional education. Some homeland security graduates go to work in the security field. Some provide private security services or guard businesses or warehouses. Others screen passengers and luggage at airports or other transportation hubs.
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Some roles require additional training. For example, 911 operators may need to complete a certification program. A bachelor’s degree could also be a prerequisite for working as an information security analyst or an emergency management director.
Associates in Homeland Security Curriculum & Courses
Your homeland security education can provide tools and strategies for reducing and responding to emergencies. Here are examples of courses you may come across in your studies:
- Disaster Response and Recovery: As you discuss what to do after a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, you’ll also learn about the National Incident Management System.
- Ethics in Security: You’ll discuss ethical issues that can arise in the security field, such as where to draw the line between privacy and safety.
- Federal Homeland Security: This course covers federal policies and agencies that contribute to national protection.
- Fundamentals of Criminal Justice: Because law and order are closely related to homeland security, you’ll receive an introductory overview of the criminal justice system.
- Interagency Coordination: During this class, you’ll get to know various agencies that deal with protection and how those organizations work together.
- Introduction to Homeland Security: By providing the vocabulary and framework for understanding homeland security concepts, this foundational class could chart the course for the remainder of your studies.
- Preparation for Emergencies: The lessons in this class focus on developing plans that can be put into place as soon as a disaster occurs.
- Risk Reduction: This course addresses mitigation strategies that can be useful for reducing the risk of a disaster or an attack.
- Terrorism Prevention and Response: In this class, you can learn about dealing with both domestic and foreign terrorists.
- Weapons: Your studies can cover weapons of mass destruction, including biological agents and nuclear bombs.
Associate degree programs usually consist of 60 credit hours.
How to Choose an Online Associate in Homeland Security Degree Program
An associate degree in homeland security can provide the foundation for an exciting career or further studies in this field. The following considerations may help you figure out which homeland security program is the best for your needs:
- Accreditation. The most reputable schools are accredited, so it’s beneficial to select a college that holds regional accreditation.
- Career preparedness. Checking out a college’s track record for job placement after graduation can help give you an idea of whether the school does well at preparing students for the workforce.
- Format. Online programs can stick to traditional semesters or allow you to progress through the courses at your own pace. Also, some have you check in for live classes, and others can be adjusted based on your availability.
- Internships. Some colleges help you find a local internship so that you can gain real-world experience. You may even earn college credit while you’re at it.
- Transfer options. Associate degree programs sometimes have transfer agreements with four-year schools. After earning an associates, you may be able to move into a bachelors degree program as a junior.
If you need help deciding whether a particular school is the right match for you, you may want to consult an admissions representative or see if you can get in touch with a recent student.
Schools vary in their application requirements for associate degree students, but the following criteria are common:
- Completed application form and a small fee
- Proof of graduation from high school or an equivalency program
- SAT or ACT scores (not required by all colleges)
- Transcripts from high school and any completed college classes
Some schools require you to already have some college coursework completed that you can transfer in to their homeland security program.
If you want to know if a college gives students a good education, you can look at its accreditation status. Effective colleges can earn this designation from approved accrediting bodies. In the US, regional accreditation usually garners the most respect. Employers and other colleges know that regional accreditation is a sign of a credible school.
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For that reason, accredited courses are more often accepted for transfer credit. A regionally accredited associate degree can also be a prerequisite for earning upperclassman status in a bachelors degree program. Some jobs or professional certifications may require accredited college degrees as well.
Homeland Security Certifications
Industry certifications can testify to your skills as a homeland security professional.
- Associate Emergency Manager (AEM): This certification option from the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) requires at least 200 hours of training, but it does not require a particular college degree.
- Certified Emergency Manager (CEM): IAEM also offers this more advanced certification option for professionals with additional training and experience in the field.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): If cybersecurity is your area of expertise, you may qualify for this credential after several years in the field.
States also issue various certificates for law enforcement officers.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Most students need help paying for their college education, and financial aid programs are designed to make college courses more affordable.
Many prospective college students start their financial aid journey by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Universities use your FAFSA results to determine what your financial aid package will look like.
The assistance that you receive from the federal government may include grants or loans, and many states run similar programs. In addition to government student aid, you can seek financial assistance from private sources as well.
Many colleges also offer scholarships or tuition discounts to students with high grades, financial hardship, or other qualifications. Outside organizations may give you scholarships, too. Some industry organizations run programs exclusively for homeland security students. In some cases, employers even pay part of their workers’ college costs.
Homeland Security Professional Organizations
Homeland security is a unique field, and you can benefit from connecting with others who work in this area. Together, you can share ideas, learn new skills, and increase your readiness for whatever may come.
Here are some homeland security professional organizations:
- Global Society of Homeland Security Professionals (GSHSP)
- International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals (IACSP)
- National Homeland Security Association (NHSA)
Membership benefits often include professional discounts and job boards. In addition, groups can offer magazines, newsletters, conferences, webinars, and other resources.
What Does Homeland Security Do?
Homeland security professionals protect communities and countries from disasters. In some cases, that means guarding against and responding to terrorist threats.
Homeland security encompasses a lot more than just anti-terrorism efforts. Professionals in this field also deal with threats like disease and natural disasters. People in homeland security create plans for dealing with emergencies that could arise, and they also step in once crises occur. Their work may involve hazardous materials, information technology, intelligence, physical security, or public health.
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They often work for local, state, or national government agencies. Some, though, are employed by private organizations.
What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Homeland Security?
Graduates with an associate degree in homeland security choose a variety of career paths related to protection. Some get jobs in transportation security. For example, they may screen passengers entering airport terminals. Additional security options include guarding warehouses, office complexes, or high-profile individuals.
Others go into law enforcement. They may start as patrol officers for police or sheriff’s departments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many officers have bachelor’s degrees, but that’s not a requirement for entry-level positions in most organizations. With on-the-job training or a certification program, homeland security professionals may pursue positions as 911 operators or fire dispatchers.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates Degree in Homeland Security Online?
An associate degree program generally takes 2 years to complete with full-time enrollment. At most colleges, completing a 2 year degree involves taking classes over four semesters, each of which lasts about 16 weeks.
Online colleges don’t always stick to that traditional schedule, though. They may use shorter terms that are only 6 weeks to 8 weeks long, and students typically take one or two courses per term. Full-time students who complete courses back-to-back throughout the year may finish an associate degree in less time.
Is an Associate in Homeland Security Worth It?
Yes, an associate in homeland security is worth it for many students. Professionals who work in this field can make a real difference in keeping their communities and countries safe. That can be hard work, but it can also be rewarding and satisfying.
Because jobs in homeland security fill a need, some positions in this sector are predicted to experience significant job growth over the next decade. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% job growth for security guard positions over the next ten years.
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Protective service occupations in general are expected to experience 8% job growth over the same time period (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Universities Offering Online Associates in Homeland Security Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Campbell University offers an Associate of Science in Homeland Security degree program. It is designed for the Adult Online Education program. Students must complete 62 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible, applicants must submit an online application with copies of their high school transcripts.
Campbell University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Central Texas College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must complete an online application through the school’s website. Copies of their official transcripts must also be sent to the school when applying.
Central Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The Community College of Allegheny County offers an Associate of Science in Homeland Security. To graduate, students must complete 63 credit hours. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit an online application with copies of their official high school transcripts.
The Community College of Allegheny County is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Eastern Kentucky University offers an Associate of Art in General Studies with a concentration in Homeland Security. To graduate, students must complete 64 credit hours. Each course in the program is 8 weeks long. Applicants must have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher. Test scores are not required but are encouraged by the program’s admissions department.
Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Georgia Military College offers both an Associate of Science and an Associate of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Students must complete 65 to 73 credit hours to graduate. Applicants must submit an online application with official high school transcripts or proof of GED completion.
Georgia Military College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Hawaii Pacific University offers an Associate of Science in Homeland Security. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours. The program is designed to prepare those interested in eventually earning a bachelor’s degree. Those interested in the program may apply online and must submit official transcripts with their applications.
Hawai’i Pacific University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Pierce College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Students must complete 97 credit hours and one of 6 concentration options to graduate. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website.
Pierce College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Trident Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Homeland Security Management. Each of the classes is 7 or 9 weeks long. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours. Applicants must submit proof of high school graduation or GED and ACT or SAT test scores.
Trident Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Trident University International offers an Associate of Science in Homeland Security. Students must complete 60 credit hours but have the option to transfer in up to 16 qualifying credits. Applicants must submit proof of high school graduation or GED and must have completed 12 semester hours with a minimum GPA of 2.0 from college credits or military training.
Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Waldorf University offers an Associate in Arts in Homeland Security. To graduate, students must complete 60 credit hours, with 45 hours dedicated to general education. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website with official transcripts from any schools they’ve attended.
Waldorf University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Associate Degree in Homeland Security Online
Homeland security is an important field that’s dedicated to promoting safety, and studying for an associate degree can help you prepare to work in the protective service field.
Your homeland security courses can teach you about disaster preparedness, risk mitigation, crisis response, and interagency cooperation. Online homeland security associate degree programs are available so that you can study from anywhere. Classes from an accredited college can provide a robust education that involves lessons, readings, assignments, discussions, and other valuable learning tools.
You can start exploring homeland security degrees online today to learn more about the benefits that these programs have to offer.