The function of the US Department of Homeland Security or the DHS is to keep the country safe from various threats. These threats can be in the form of terrorism to cyber-security threats.

Every aspect of American safety lies under the aegis of the DHS. The DHS was formed after 9/11 following the combination of some 22 federal departments into a single and cohesive entity. The difference between the DHS and the Department of Defense is that it works within a civilian orbit both at home and abroad. It is not military-based.

The Department of Homeland Security covers numerous areas. As a result, it offers wide-varying careers that you can pursue. Some of the departmental components which it covers include intelligence and analysis, transportation analysis along with legislative affairs. Every department in DHS offers an array of career opportunities for different 

The pay scale for every department varies based on the position that you are applying for. This is dependent on your level of competence and experience required by the hiring agency. One of the more commonly known components or departments of the DHS is the TSA or the Transportation Security Administration.

This agency is in charge of transportation security administration. If you are taking a job here such as a transport security specialist, you will be in charge of ensuring compliance with TSA regulations. The remunerations for this kind of supervisory role ranges from $126,657 to 172,550 a year. The rates of compensation for other roles in the TSA vary based on different factors influencing salary rates.

Apart from the TSA, there are several components or child agencies which lie under the DHS. These include the following:

  • The United States Secret Service
  • US Customs and Border Protection
  • The United States Secret Service
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Service
  • The United States Coast Guard

Job Description

The job description for the various DHS roles depends on the specific position that you are applying for. For example, a candidate in the cybersecurity role in the homeland security will need some computing and computer security skills. He or she should also have the ability to protect the United States cyber infrastructure from cyber-threats. Similarly, someone who works in the emergency response must be able to act quickly and maintain a cool head even during stressful situations.

The law enforcement component of the DHS such as the Secret Service is concerned with the protection of political VIPs. These include the President, the Vice President, families of the President and VP, and visiting heads of states. They also protect various designated individuals such as presidential candidates as well.

Other Tasks of DHS

They are also involved in various other tasks such as securing national borders and the enforcement of immigration laws. They are in charge of enforcement of transportation security through the TSA and interagency security training. More than these, they also handle the enforcement of infrastructure and economic security for the country.

There are DHS careers that have to do with travel and immigration security. This involves the protection of the US transportation system and also ensuring that there is legal immigration into the US. There are DHS careers to do with prevention and response. These are concerned with the protection of the general public, the environment as well as security and economic interests of the United States. They ensure adequate preparedness, response, protection, mitigation, and recovery from various hazards.

Due to the great variety of roles in the DHS, there are diverse skillsets which are required for homeland security positions. There are also general qualities that all DHS staff needs to have such as the ability to take directions. Other important skills include being able to lead teams on various missions that ensure security and protection of US interests whether at home or abroad. Most of the positions in the DHS also follow a direct chain of command.

Educational Requirements for Homeland Security Jobs

Educational requirements for various homeland security positions depend on the area of expertise of the position. There are certain positions such as border patrol which require only a high school diploma. There are also certain positions such as an information security analyst require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The customs border and patrol officers may also need to have Spanish language skills if they will be patrolling the southern US border.

There are certain positions in the DHS which allow a great deal of flexibility in educational background. For example, a foreign affairs officer can have a variety of options when it comes to educational requirements. If you are planning to work in the DHS, you need to pick a subject area where you wish to work in. For instance, if you are interested in working on cybersecurity, you will need an educational background involving computer security.

Appointments in the DHS are generally made based on General Schedule of the government. This relies on educational background and the jobs are classified based on pay scale. Some jobs, such as trade jobs, may require certifications.

Projected Salary Range

The compensation for all USG positions is generally based on the General Schedule which is updated on a yearly basis.  Pay levels vary widely based on the demands of the position as well as the qualifications of the candidate. The salary range in the DHS also varies based on the geographical location. The US federal government offers all employees health insurance, very flexible working schedules along with a host of other benefits.

The lowest pay for any government worker in January 2014 was $17, 981. The highest paid government employee earned $130,810. Rates are dependent on a variety of factors such as the experience, expertise, pay grade and the tasks the person is charged with. As of 2010, the lowest paid Secret Service agent was earning $43,964 while the highest was earning $74, 891.

Between 2012 and 2022, the projected job growth rates will vary widely based on the DHS position. For example, there is a projected 37% growth for information security analysts and a 5% projected growth rate for the border patrol agents.


The best place to source out job opportunities as a Department of Homeland Security Agent is through their career listing page. This page is frequently updated and lists their latest openings. Applications can be done straight through the site via the “How to Apply” info for every job posting.