An online homeland security associate’s degree can start students on the path towards a career in a challenging, vital career. Those who work in homeland security are trained to anticipate, prepare for, and react to man-made and natural crisis, such as hurricanes, terrorism, or pandemics. To that end, people who can make quick decisions, are effective leaders, and have an interest in serving and protecting people may be drawn to this degree. At the associate degree level, students can obtain a general overview of the field, touching on topics in law enforcement, emergency management, and more. Courses can also help students obtain skills in security and disaster management.

Why an Associate Degree?

Through an online associates degree in homeland security, students can gain an introduction to the field of homeland security. From there, they might go on to find employment, such as for state or local government, or private security. Or, they could continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in homeland security. Many opportunities in the field, such as in emergency management, typically required advanced education and training, so an associate degree would be a stepping stone towards those requirements.

Getting Into an Associate Degree Program

Admission requirements will vary from program to program. Though he’s a general look at what most associate degree programs require as part of the application process:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent

Inside a Homeland Security Associate Degree Program

It typically takes students two years to complete an associate degree program in homeland security. During that time, they will gain knowledge in safety, security, and disaster management and develop skills to protect people, information, and locations on a local and national level. Courses may cover topics in computer security, emergency communications, emergency management, fire technology, law enforcement, and private security.

During the first year, students might take general education courses in areas such as composition, math, sociology, and public speaking. Once they’ve completed those, they can take more specialized courses in criminology, criminal law, criminal investigation, homeland security, understanding terrorism, emergency management and recovery, and weapons of mass destruction/hazardous materials. Students will be introduced to real-case scenarios that have influenced the way we implement homeland security. They also might have the opportunity to work on baton course, guard card, and chemical agents permit training. Though it should be noted that whereas assignments, lectures, and testing can be completed virtually in an online homeland security program, baton and firearms training would be available through a third-party provider.

What’s Next for Homeland Security Associate Degree Holders?

Almost any field can be tied to homeland security. For instance, doctors help prevent the spread of disease, while engineers ensure that buildings are properly designed to withstand natural or human-caused disasters. Though generally, many homeland security jobs are with state, federal, or local governments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other opportunities are available in private companies and nonprofit organizations. Areas a graduate of an associate degree program in homeland security may enter include law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, and public health. They might find work as first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, or paramedics, all of which would require additional training through an academy or program. According to the BLS, the greatest demand in this area is for paramedics. Employment of paramedics is expected to increase by 33% from 2010 to 2020, while employment of police officers is expected to increase by 7% and firefighters by 9%.

Other positions in homeland security, such as in emergency management, information analysis, and federal law, generally required a higher degree. Students interested in entering these fields or advancing in their current position may therefore want to continue their education at the bachelor’s or master’s degree levels. Online programs in homeland security are common at these levels, too, and provide the opportunity for further specialization and skills training.