Skip to Main Content

Take Your Homeland Security Career to New Heights

As a homeland security professional, you stand on the front lines, protecting your country and providing aid to those in need. Now, take your “boots-on-the-ground” skills — and your career — to new heights with the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP) from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School.

Launched as the nation’s first homeland security and emergency preparedness program in 2005, this online master’s program is a true reflection of the Wilder School’s mission to be the premier resource for public policy expertise and social justice in public safety, governance, and economic and community development. The Wilder School is ranked in the top 15% of graduate schools of public affairs (2022 U.S. News & World Report).

Career Paths in Homeland Security

Whether your goal is to advance to a senior role with your current employer or affect change in an entirely different field, the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness can help to get you there.

Move up the ranks as a homeland security leader with the ability to marshal resources, coordinate with other agencies and craft smart policy that can save lives.

Emergency Management Director

Emergency management directors lead the planning and response to natural disasters and other emergencies. These professionals often coordinate with public safety officials, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to minimize damage and disruptions during an emergency. Daily activities include preparing disaster plans and procedures; overseeing the training and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers and local agencies; communicating warnings; and managing resources and equipment across agencies and communities.

Most emergency management directors work for federal, state or local governments. Others work for organizations such as hospitals, colleges and universities, private companies, and nonprofits.

Job Growth

Job Growth

4% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$74,590*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Criminal Investigator or Special Agent

Criminal investigators, called special agents in many government agencies, gather facts and collect evidence related to criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, monitor suspects, and participate in raids and arrests. Daily activities include gathering statements from complainants, witnesses and accused persons; recording progress of investigations; maintaining informational files on suspects; and submitting reports to commanding officers.

Criminal investigators work for nearly every department of the federal government, including the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and many more. They work in every branch of the military, as well as for state governments, private companies, and other businesses and organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

5% from 2019 to 2029* (faster than average)

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$86,030*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Chief Security Officer

A chief security officer (CSO) is the highest-level executive directly responsible for all of an organization’s security needs. An evolution of the title chief information security officer (CISO), the title of CSO increasingly encompasses not only digital and information technology security but also the physical security and safety of an organization’s employees, facilities and assets. Responsibilities include managing the development and implementation of security policies, standards and procedures; overseeing security staff and vendors; and leading operational risk-management activities to ensure effectiveness.

Chief security officers may work for private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies at the local, state and federal levels.

Job Growth

Job Growth

31% from 2019 to 2029* (much faster than average)

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$174,286**

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** Source: Salary.com

Criminal Intelligence Analyst

Criminal intelligence analysts gather, analyze and evaluate information from sources such as law enforcement databases and surveillance or intelligence networks to anticipate and prevent criminal and terrorist threats. Daily activities include analyzing data and images, maintaining intelligence databases, investigating potential threats and coordinating with authorities.

Criminal intelligence analysts may work for government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, private companies that work with the government, and other businesses or organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

1–2% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$83,170*

* Source: *O*NET OnLine

Business Continuity Manager

Business continuity managers lead the creation of plans, procedures and programs to ensure that a business can continue to operate during and after emergencies such as natural and human-made disasters. Daily activities include preparing disaster recovery plans, overseeing the training and disaster exercises for staff, and managing resources and equipment across departments. During an emergency, business continuity managers are responsible for overseeing the implementation of their plans.

Most business continuity managers work for private companies, nonprofits and other organizations, such as hospitals, colleges and universities.

Job Growth

Job Growth

4% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$74,590*

* Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Skills and Abilities

  • Critical thinking
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Decision-making
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Coordination and collaboration

Technology-heavy roles in areas such as information security and criminal intelligence require knowledge of computer hardware and software, including skills such as programming and data analysis.

Learn more about the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Tell Me More