September 11, 2001, marked the largest terrorist attack on American soil, leaving nearly 3,000 dead. The event prompted the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was tasked with preventing such attacks in the future. Years later, the DHS is still a critical part of U.S. security, sporting a 2012 projected operating budget of $57 billion. This budget has helped the DHS become a job creation machine: According to DHS.gov, the Department employed nearly 216,000 people in 2010, making it the third largest Cabinet department in the nation behind the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Homeland Security degree spells major career opportunity
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Homeland Security employs a wide breadth of professionals ranging from border patrol officers and counterterrorism specialists to chemists and emergency management professionals. Job and training requirements vary from one specialty to the next; cybersecurity pros benefit from earning at least a bachelor's degree in information technology, for instance, while a border control agent needs law enforcement training. A number of schools provide general emergency management or homeland security programs, an ideal choice for those who want to land a DHS career, but haven't chosen a specialty. Common homeland security courses include: emergency management, criminal justice, political science and U.S. government.