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Take Your Law Enforcement Career to New Heights

As a local law enforcement professional, you serve as your community’s first line of defense. 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 Law Enforcement

Whether your goal is to advance to a leadership role in your department or serve the public in an entirely different field, the Online Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness can help you get there.

Move up the ranks as a senior law enforcement officer with the skills to plan, direct and coordinate all police operations in your community, or leverage your existing skills to protect people and preserve the peace in a new field, such as federal law enforcement, border protection, emergency management or counterterrorism.

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 the 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

Customs and Border Protection Officer

Customs and border protection officers safeguard America’s borders to reduce the threat of crime and terrorism. Daily activities include investigating and inspecting people, vehicles, goods and merchandise to determine their eligibility for admission into the U.S.; detaining people and goods found to be in violation of immigration or customs laws; locating and seizing contraband; and arranging for legal action, such as deportation.

Customs and border protection officers work for the U.S. Border Patrol, a unit of U.S. Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security.

Job Growth

Job Growth

6% from 2019 to 2029 (faster than average)*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$63,150*

* Source: *O*NET OnLine

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

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 digital and information technology security and 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

Emergency Management Coordinator

Emergency management coordinators work to protect their communities by planning and coordinating responses to natural disasters and other emergencies. Daily activities include planning and facilitating emergency drills and programs, communicating and coordinating resources with community officers and agencies, and helping to develop and oversee training.

Many emergency management coordinators work for federal, state or local governments. Others work for organizations such as hospitals, colleges and universities, private companies, and nonprofit organizations.

Job Growth

Job Growth

4% from 2019 to 2029*

Median Annual Salary

Median Annual Salary

$60,031**

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

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.

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