If you’re a 24 fan, then you probably know
where Jack Bauer studied and trained for his ultimate career as a member of
the U.S. government in the field for the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit
(CTU). But, if you haven’t followed the 24 series, his background is available
on his official character page. If you’re a college student hoping to follow in Jack Bauer’s footsteps, I may spoil it for all of you when I show you home some aspects of Bauer’s history were virtually impossible to
While the list of Bauer’s educational and military histories aren’t categorized
by date, it would seem that he achieved his degrees before he entered the military.
One theory is that Jack joined the military in defiance when his father, Phillip,
offered Jack a position at BXJ Technologies, Phillip’s company. This job offering
would logically follow the acquisition of a college degree, so I’ll begin with
Bauer first obtained his BA
in English literature from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA),
and this degree seems credible and a viable option if he wanted to make communications
and writing a major goal for his career. If Jack chose the world literature
concentration, he then took four upper division courses in foreign literatures,
one of which was taught in the original language. Jack could use these communication
and cultural learning skills effectively in his military and government positions.
Jack then acquired his MS
in criminology and law from UC Berkeley.
Unfortunately, UC Berkeley hasn’t offered this degree in decades. With that
said, a graduate degree in this area is a perfect choice for someone who wants
to work in anti-terrorism fields. Since 9/11, many colleges have added various
courses and degrees that focus on homeland security options. Some options within
this field are listed under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special
agent critical skills. Jack would fit neatly into the “diversified”
category, which requires a BS or BA degree in any discipline plus three years
of full-time work experience, or an advanced degree accompanied by two years
of full-time work experience.
But, wait…Jack doesn’t have any experience yet. This is where the military
filled that void. Bauer’s participation in the U.S. Army’s Combat Applications
Group (CAG) and in the Delta Force’s counter terrorist group were perfect choices
to become a prime candidate for any governmental anti-terrorism position. Interestingly,
it seems that Bauer padded his resume, since the U.S. Army’s CAG unit is, basically,
the same as Delta Force (Ft Bragg, NC),
and the entire shebang is known as 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta
The 1st SFOD-D plans and conducts a “broad range of special operations
across the operational continuum” while trying to maintain the “lowest
possible profile of U.S. involvement.” Secretive missions are this group’s
specialty. Assignment to this unit involves an extensive prescreening process
that requires at least eight months previous participation in training courses.
As a member of this unit, Jack may have had experiences
in hostage negotiations, intelligence gathering, and as a bodyguard. All experiences
would put Jack in close contact with the FBI and the CIA, relationships that
play heavily in Jack’s ongoing activities.
Jack’s education also includes the LASD
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department) Basic SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics)
School. The LASD’s SED (Special Enforcement Detail) offers Basic and Advanced
SWAT school and Tactical Long Rifle and Explosive Breaching training throughout
the year. These schools are open to members and outside agency tactical
teams. Since students in these schools include specialized federal and military
contingents, he probably attended the SWAT school while in the military or when
he became a member of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bauer’s resume was again padded with an educational note about the Special
Forces Operations Training Course. This training was obtained either in the
military or through the LASD. With that aside, Jack added to his educational
military career in CTU
(Counter Terrorist Unit) as a special agent in charge and director of field
operations in the Los
Angeles Domestic Unit (LADU). Don’t look for a career with any CTU division,
especially within the LADU. It doesn’t exist.
Even though Bauer represents the ideal and idealistic counter-intelligence
agent, his career illuminates several interesting points:
- It would be impossible to achieve Jack’s specific educational credentials,
but it would be possible to gain a similar career through new courses on anti-terrorism
tactics developed by many colleges since 9/11. You can gain these skills through
various accredited online degrees in criminal
justice, so you don’t need to quit your day job to study topics within
another career option.
- Although it is possible to become an elite member of the Delta Force, which
is highly trained and well equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, airborne
insertion equipment, and other forms of technology, selection is tough. If
you want to gain weapons and tactical knowledge, you can apply to local sheriff
and police department SWAT schools and other specialized training courses,
just as Jack did.
- If you plan to become a special agent, you must be between
ages 23 and 37, and communication
skills are imperative (at least for FBI positions). So, if you’re currently
enrolled in English literature courses, it’s not impossible to dream about
a counter-terrorism future.
- You don’t need to move to LA to become involved in anti-terrorism careers.
This location is convenient for Jack, as this is where one Fox
film studio is located. Also, you have to admit that LA provides a convenient
international airport (LAX).
One question remains: As a counter-terrorist agent, do you need to suffer the
personal losses that Bauer experiences? This depends upon your participation
within an anti-terrorism activity. You could participate in risk analysis and
planning or in policy, strategy, plan development and implementation or in program
management. Unless you’re specifically targeted by terrorists, your risks would
be no higher than those faced by any other person who pushes paper. But, if
you become involved with weaponry and on-the-ground activities, your risks increase.
Plus, if you become a whistle-blower like Jack, you could increase your risks
even more…although, supposedly, you would be protected from retaliation by
such measures as the Corporate and Criminal Fraud Accountability Act (CCFA),
a portion of the Sarbanes-Oxley
Act of 2002 enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Jack once said to his partner Chase
Edmunds at the end of season three, “You cannot do this job and have a normal
life at the same time.” You may never know if this statement is true unless
you try your hand at this career. But if you avoid drugs (Jack was addicted
to heroin) and realize that life is much more boring than any seasonal
you may experience a long life in counter-terrorism.
How You Can Become a Real-Life Jack Bauer
Here is a list of a few college-level courses you can take if you wish to follow in Jack’s footsteps.
- You might get your toes wet with the Diploma
in Criminal Justice from ECPI College of Technology. This diploma, however,
is a certificate that allows you to integrate an interest in computers into
areas of government and law enforcement. You’ll need more if you want to eventually
get out in the field.
- The Associate
of Science in Criminal Justice from Anthem College Online will provide
you with the basics in criminal justice if you’re unsure about a bachelor’s
degree or your specialization in criminal justice. Another course to take
at the associate degree level includes the Associate
of Arts in Homeland Security from Keiser University. This degree focuses
on careers in homeland security and law enforcement.
- Keiser also offers an
Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice, a course that provides a strong
foundation in criminal justice, court procedures, and issues in law enforcement
and corrections. This course provides groundwork for advanced criminal justice
programs that are needed for a career in homeland security, law enforcement,
or forensic science.
- If you already know that you want to jump headlong into criminal justice
and/or anti-terrorism, then you might want to invest in a bachelor’s degree.
In this case, you might consider a BS
in Criminal Justice from Upper Iowa University or from ITT
Technical Institute Online. Both courses allow you to obtain a balanced
exposure to criminal law, legal procedures, criminal evidence, and criminology;
and utilize critical thinking, innovation, and teamwork. This work prepares
you for careers as law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and other
law enforcement personnel with the skills and knowledge needed to enter into
management and supervisory positions.
- You can also achieve a four-year degree with a BS
in Homeland Security from FMU Online. The course subjects include Domestic
and International Terrorism and Tactical Communications. Careers available
to graduates include border patrol agent, homeland security officer, and law
- Finally, a master’s degree will put you on top with advanced courses in
criminal justice and anti-terrorism skills. After you achieve a bachelor’s
degree, try your hand at the MS
in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security Administration from Tiffin University
or the Master
of Science in Criminal Justice from South University Online. Both courses
will hone your undergraduate skills so that you can take leadership positions
in any organization that you decide to join.
You can also go on to earn a doctoral degree in criminal justice, but you might
think about learning skills through a local SWAT course or train through various
programs offered at local colleges or community centers. After all, you need
to be between ages 23 and 37 to work as an FBI agent as mentioned previously,
so you don’t want to cut your time too short with too many classes. After all,
who knows what Jack will be once his anti-terrorism career ends? If not dead,
he could work as a judge or even as a vigilante.
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