Guide to Getting Your Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security

Become Team
Become Team
December 22, 2021

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An accredited online associate degree in homeland security offers graduates a meaningful career that helps keep people safe and provides them with a comfortable living. Homeland security professionals reported earning an average annual salary of $79,000, according to Payscale.

Earning a homeland security associate degree prepares students to pursue various career opportunities or further their education at the bachelor's level. Homeland security associate program graduates qualify for entry-level security, law enforcement, and emergency response positions at state, local, and federal levels.

What Will You Learn in an Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security Program?

All homeland security programs focus on training graduates to protect people from threats of all kinds, from terrorism to natural disasters.

Online associate homeland security degree programs explore homeland security basics through the criminal justice system context. This includes tactical response operations and preventing, planning for, and responding to terrorism.

The curriculum for homeland security associate programs varies by school, but here are the common courses that you can expect:

Common Courses

American Homeland Security

In this foundational course, students receive an introduction to historical and contemporary issues in American homeland security, including best practices, organizational development, and Department of Homeland Security laws. The class explores the country's ability to respond to terrorist threats, terrorist motivations, and the strengths and weaknesses of counterterrorism strategies.

Introduction to Terrorism

This course introduces students to types of terrorism, groups of terrorists, and resources and techniques for stopping terrorist threats in the United States. Students explore topics like weapons of mass destruction (WMD), international and domestic terrorism, and lone-wolf terrorism.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Students learn the developmental history of WMD technology, the laws regulating them, and the impact of WMD technology on homeland security response. Discussions include how using WMDs impacts society.

Terrorism Response

Terrorism response includes exploring tactical response operations, mitigation actions, and pre-incident preparedness in the National Incident Management System framework. Students also learn to create post-terrorism recovery plans and research lessons from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Disaster Recovery and Response

This course introduces the most important elements of disaster recovery and response. Students examine real disaster events, apply response and recovery theories to real-time, high-pressure situations, and learn to address special populations' needs in disaster response.

Core Skills Gained

Online associate degree in homeland security programs introduce students to the role of the Department of Homeland Security, emergency management, and strategies for combatting terrorism and emergency response. Graduates understand how to analyze and predict terrorist threats and manage natural disasters.

Homeland security associate programs develop skills like:

What Can You Do With an Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security?

An associate degree in homeland security opens doors to entry-level jobs with local, state, and federal government agencies. There are also opportunities with nonprofit organizations and private companies.

Many positions require U.S. citizenship and a background check or security clearance. There are also opportunities to transition to a career in the military or armed forces. Here are some of the top available positions:


Annual Average Salary: $70,000

If you're passionate about upholding justice and the opportunity to protect and serve, this is an ideal career path. Police officers protect people and property. Detectives investigate evidence of potential crimes.

Many police departments and federal agencies require some college coursework. You must also complete additional academy training.

The number of police and detective jobs in 2020 was nearly 800,000, with average job growth at 7% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Annual Average Salary: $52,340

Correctional officers supervise inmates and people awaiting trials. Bailiffs enforce order and ensure safety in courtrooms.

There were nearly 440,000 correctional officer and bailiff jobs in 2020, although the job outlook shows a decline of 7% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Annual Average Salary: $44,920

Transportation security screeners or officers typically work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA officers work at airports and screen passengers, check bags, and perform pat-downs. TSA workers need at least a high school diploma.

Annual Average Salary: $69,245

Border patrol agents protect the country's borders by preventing illegal trade and immigration. These officials patrol borders on land, water, and air and are usually employed by the U.S. government.

In addition to the associate degree in homeland security, you will be required to complete mandatory training. Border patrol agents are required to be physically fit.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program After Getting Your Online Associate Degree in Homeland Security

Earning a bachelor's degree can lead to more diverse and better-paying career opportunities than those available for individuals who hold only an associate degree.

After earning an associate in homeland security, students can pursue further education in this field or consider related options, such as criminology or criminal justice. An associate in homeland security provides a good foundation for any of these bachelor's programs and can improve career opportunities.

Bachelor's in Homeland Security

An associate in homeland security lays the groundwork for further study at the bachelor's level. Students should already hold foundational knowledge and can explore the discipline at a higher level by earning a bachelor's degree. It usually takes an additional two years of study to earn a bachelor's in homeland security.

Bachelor's in Criminology

Bachelor's in criminology programs study crime as a social phenomenon and how crime affects society. Graduates can work as police officers, probation officers, corrections officers, and forensic science technicians. You usually spend an additional two years studying to earn a bachelor's in criminology.

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice students explore the system in which criminals commit crimes. Graduates work in law enforcement, corrections, and the court system. A homeland security associate degree gives students an understanding of issues important in criminal justice, and the coursework is usually transferable. Expect an additional two years of study to complete a bachelor's in criminal justice.

Become Team
Become Team
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