Because ours is a relatively open society, there exist many “inherent” weaknesses that some people out there are intent on exploiting. Even before “terrorism” became such a buzzword, crime was a major problem in many parts of the country. Neighborhood muggings, cyber theft, credit card fraud, and murder were dangers that every American citizen potentially faced. But if you become a security specialist, you can help reduce some of these potential dangers and make this country a safer place.
Actually, there are many different types of security specialists. Some work for Homeland Security and provide counterterrorism support for law enforcement agencies. Others work for private clients, providing bodyguard and protection services. Although both of these careers are quite different, there exists some overlap. Thus, it’s possible to receive general training as a security specialist and then branch off into either one of these fields.
The Department of Homeland Security provides various levels of training for interested applicants. A police science degree is also sufficient for certain occupations. Some rely on previous military training as well. But if you really want to master the basics, you should apply to actual security specialist schools that provide you with all the training you will possibly need for this particular career. Thereafter, securing employment shouldn’t be terribly difficult. As already mentioned, crime is a problem that won’t go away by itself. The country needs more qualified security specialists and crime fighters to help bring normalcy, peace, and safety to the streets.
Becoming a Homeland Security Specialist
A homeland security specialist is a type of law enforcement officer who deals specifically with policing and protecting America’s borders. You would be interested in the entry or exit of illegal persons, smuggled goods, narcotics, or banned goods.
If you become a homeland security specialist you could end up being employed by one of several different agencies. These agencies specialize in different fields and include Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Secret Service. There is usually a fair amount of liaison between different agencies.
Educational Requirements for Homeland Security
For most states, before you can become a homeland security specialist, you will need to comply with several civil service regulations. These regulations are common for most states. You will generally need to be a US citizen, aged at least 20, and be physically and mentally fit.
A previous criminal history will likely preclude you from working within an agency. A college degree is usually required; a subject such as criminal justice should provide you with a good foundation. Some agencies are not particular about the subject of your degree and place more emphasis on personal qualities. Since you could become a homeland security specialist within a number of different agencies and their educational requirements vary so much, you would be best advised to check directly with that agency.
Becoming a Border Patrol Agent
Border Patrol Agents work for the Department of Homeland Security and are usually employed by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
Job Description of a Border Patrol Agent
These uniformed law enforcement officers prevent illegal entry of the following elements onto US territory: terrorists, terrorist weapons, illegal immigrants, contraband, drugs, and vectors of agricultural disease and pests, among others. They also aim to protect intellectual property and international trade. A border patrol agent’s duties can be undertaken at an office, but they can also involve working in extreme weather conditions, and anything in between. Some agents will work on the border, actively preventing the entry of restricted elements across the 8,000 miles of US boundaries.
A Border Patrol Agent working for CBP is not required to hold a degree for an entry-level position, but any such degree would be recommended for advancement. Some federal agencies, such as the Secret Service and the FBI, require candidates to be graduates and to have had a few years’ work experience.
- Accepted degrees are usually in one of the following fields:
- Criminal Justice
- IT / Information Technology
- Foreign Languages
- Additionally, all CBP personnel must have a driver’s license and a firearms license.
There are two types of jobs at the CBP: the mission critical and the mission support positions. Mission critical jobs include Border Patrol Agents, CBP Officers, Air and Machine Interdiction Agents, CBP Agriculture Specialists, and Import Specialists. Operational and mission support agents include: Paralegals, Intelligence Research Specialists, IT Specialists, Security Specialists, Management Analysts and Contract Specialists. As Border Patrol Agents accumulate experience and finish their degrees, they gain access to any of the other positions mentioned above.
New CBP recruits are required to complete the Border Patrol Basic Academy. They undergo firearms training, courses in the use of surveillance equipment and intelligence, and if need be, foreign language courses. They must also provide sufficient proof of physical fitness, multitasking abilities, leadership and communication skills. All US Border Patrol Agents must be American citizens under 40 years of age, with at least three years of residency.
How to Become a Customs Agent
Customs agents are Federal law enforcement officers with the responsibility of enforcing custom’s laws. They are the front line of checking goods and travelers at points of entrance in United States, including airports, border crossings and seaports.
What Does a Customs Agent Do?
Custom agents make sure that no prohibited material enters or leaves the country. They check documentation against corresponding cargo to ensure no criminal activity or contraband is taking place. Also tax collecting duties are carried out for certain imported goods.
Travelers and immigrants are checked and processed at the points of entrance for their valid documents. In dealing with a variety of people entering in the country, a customs agent must maintain a high level of interpersonal skills and communication among other qualifications. Dealing with tax collection and big trading companies requires strong honesty and personal integrity. A customs officer must be a highly trained employee, equipped with a strong character.
Education and Training Requirements
A high school diploma is a basic requirement for all customs agents. Relevant customs service experience or a degree in Criminal Justice or Law Enforcement are advantages for being selected. Candidates must also have a clean criminal record and pass in physical exams and drug testing. A written test is conducted by the Customs and Border Protection Agency to screen prospective agents.
The Department of Home Land Security carries the responsibility of providing further on site training adapted for the specific location and job type. You must be under 37 years old and lawful citizen before considering to apply for a customs agent position. Communication skills, leadership, multi-tasking skills, keen judgement, perceptiveness, and responsibility are some of key characteristics of a preferred candidate.