7 DHS Jobs and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Working for the federal government can be a rewarding career. Learn about the various career opportunities you can pursue with the Department of Homeland Security and useful tips to help you get started with the DHS.

[Featured Image] A man wearing a suit shakes hands with an interviewer during his job interview for one of the DHS jobs to which he applied.

 As one of the largest departments within the US government, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays an important role in keeping the country, citizens, and national leaders safe. Regarding jobs, DHS also has many opportunities for you to explore in areas like cybersecurity, border and port security, and disaster response.

Working for the government comes with many benefits, such as pension and retirement packages, health care coverage, and job stability. If you have a passion for protecting people and want to enjoy the benefits of a federal career, consider the following Department of Homeland Security careers and special opportunities you may qualify for.

What is the DHS?

The Department of Homeland Security is an agency of 22 different federal agencies and departments, including the United States Secret Service (USSS), US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Health Security (OHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and several others. The DHS plays an important role in key areas such as protecting US borders, preventing cyberattacks, stopping terrorism, assisting with disaster recovery, and protecting the national economy.

7 DHS Jobs

The Department of Homeland Security offers various career opportunities, including cybersecurity, law enforcement, immigration and travel security, mission support, and prevention and response. Each category contributes to helping keep the United States secure. Here’s a look at specific DHS positions you can obtain.

1. Customs and border protection officer

Median annual salary: $60,000 [1]

Education requirements: To qualify, you'll need either a bachelor’s degree, three years of relevant experience, or a combination of post-secondary education and relevant work experience.

As a customs and border protection officer, you'll secure the land borders with Mexico and Canada or waterways along the coast. Your job will extend beyond keeping dangerous people, weapons, and illegal substances out of the country. You'll also enforce laws relating to immigration, trade, and agriculture.

2. Information technology specialist

Median annual salary: $75,767 [2]

Education requirements: IT specialists require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area such as computer science, computer engineering, or information technology.

As an IT specialist, you'll apply your knowledge of information technology systems and applications. Typical duties include troubleshooting problems and developing and maintaining information security programs while following regulations and policies. Potential areas to specialize in include network services, customer support, data management, enterprise architecture, and more.

3. Public affairs specialist

Median annual salary: $78,949 [3]

Education requirements: Earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, public relations, or a related field.

As a public affairs specialist, you are responsible for communicating with the public to provide information from the DHS. When a national emergency or disaster occurs, it’s the job of the Office of Public Affairs to serve as the voice of the federal government to provide important details to the public.

4. Criminal investigator

Median annual salary: $87,809 [4]

Education requirements: A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can help you qualify for criminal investigator positions.

You perform civil, administrative, and criminal investigations as a criminal investigator. The specifics of your investigation depend on the department in which you work. For example, you might investigate employee corruption or general criminal activity with CBP. Other homeland security investigations can involve global threats through international trade, even working at overseas locations.

5. Intelligence analyst

Median annual salary: $102,360 [5]

Education requirements: To become an intelligence analyst, earn a bachelor’s degree in a relevant area, such as computer science, political science, international relations, or criminal justice.

As an intelligence analyst, your job is to help keep the country safe by providing information, valuable insights, and intelligence to reduce the risk of threats. Your work helps ensure a strong national defense. To do this, you will collect and analyze data, observe events impacting other countries, and build reports.

6. Operations research analyst

Median annual salary: $130,345 [6]

Education requirements: The typical education requirements for operations research analysts include a bachelor’s degree in computer science, statistics, mathematics, business, or a similar field.

As an operations research analyst, your responsibility is to advise decision-makers based on insights from data and statistics to find the best possible solution. To do this, you will collect and analyze data, develop reports, and draw conclusions so that you can advise decision-making processes.

7. Immigration officer

Average annual salary: $70,588 [7]

Education requirements: Immigration officers typically have a bachelor’s degree. Relevant fields of study include a bachelor’s in a foreign language or criminal justice.

As an immigration officer, you enforce immigration, citizenship, and border security regulations. During individual cases, you might evaluate work visa petitions and extensions of citizenship and determine how to handle each case per the legal requirements.

Special opportunities 

The Department of Homeland Security offers certain opportunities to students and recent grads (as well as veterans and military spouses) interested in pursuing a career with the DHS. Through these programs, DHS can expand its recruiting efforts, and you can apply your knowledge and skills to jobs available through DHS.

If you’re currently in school, the DHS offers scholarships, internships, and training opportunities to help you learn more about the Department of Homeland Security areas where you can work. Recent graduates can benefit from tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment. To qualify for the Recent Graduates Program, your graduation must have occurred within two years from a qualified institution.

The DHS strives to honor service members and help them transition from the military to employment with the Department of Homeland Security. For example, the DHS participates in programs that assist disabled and injured veterans with skill development. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership focuses on connecting military spouses with job opportunities.

Tips to get hired

When searching for job openings with the Department of Homeland Security, you can utilize USAJOBS. You'll find the requirements for DHS positions to compile a quality application. You can also specify your search on USAJOBS to filter positions based on salary, agency, job category, and other criteria.

For federal positions, you will often encounter more clearances you must obtain to qualify for work compared to nongovernment jobs. Considering this, it’s important first to review the specific requirements, which may include needing to be a US citizen, passing a medical evaluation, and agreeing to a background investigation.

Getting started with Coursera

With over 260,000 employees within the DHS, the Department of Homeland Security offers many opportunities to help contribute to the safety of the United States [8]. To pursue one of these careers, focus on developing the right skills and knowledge in areas such as immigration, cybersecurity, travel security, and law enforcement.

On Coursera, you can find highly rated courses to develop sought-after skills in areas such as information technology and cybersecurity. IBM's Information Technology (IT) Fundamentals for Everyone covers hardware, software, operating systems, programming, databases, and more to help you gain valuable insights into working in IT. Foundations of Cybersecurity from Google can help you prepare for a cybersecurity career by teaching you how to identify security attacks and use common cybersecurity analyst tools.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “Total Salary Range for a US Customs and Border Protection CBP Officer, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/US-Customs-and-Border-Protection-CBP-Officer-Salaries-E41481_D_KO33,44.htm.” Accessed May 2, 2024.

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