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Looking for a Homeland Security Job? Be Patient

Looking for a Homeland Security Job? Be Patient

Allan Hoffman / Monster.com

October 16, 2007

The US may be pouring billions into homeland security, including funds to target cyberterrorism, but these outlays don’t necessarily translate into easy pickings for information technology professionals seeking work in this sector.

Those with security clearances and expertise in a security niche, such as encryption or biometrics, have an edge in seeking employment on homeland-security projects. But even for those with years of security experience, the field is difficult to break into, because:

1) Government bureaucracy slows hiring.
2) Jobs may be contingent on federal contracts being awarded to private-sector employers.
3) Security clearances may be necessary, whether for employment at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or companies working on government contracts.
4) The work isn’t concentrated in one place. Jobs exist at the federal, state and local levels of government, as well as at small businesses and corporations.

Advance Your Career

Michael Fitzgerald, principal consultant at staffing firm Winter, Wyman & Company, sees homeland security as a “growth area” for IT workers, yet notes that the complications of job hunting in the field can be discouraging to techies accustomed to faster hiring processes.

Techies may also have the misconception that working in homeland security, even for the DHS itself, is like working for a spy agency. It’s not, Fitzgerald cautions. Tackling the innovative challenges of the post-9/11 world certainly makes up a portion of the IT work available on homeland security projects, but not all of it, he says. “There’s a lot of work that is just humdrum IT work,” such as updating and maintaining computer systems and other such functional tasks, he notes.


Look Down the Private Path 


But the hiring situation may be improving, especially as DHS awards IT-related contracts to companies. “There’s a lot of activity,” says Jacob Goodwin, editor-in-chief of Government Security News. “It’s not a slam-dunk [for job seekers], but it’s a growth opportunity.”

Furthermore, the security concerns spawned by 9/11 have created opportunities beyond those classified strictly as homeland security. Brian Drum, president and CEO of recruitment firm Drum Associates, says that major companies must often retool their IT systems and data centers to cope with the possibility of power-grid problems, terrorist attacks and other unforeseen events.



Such work can entail:

1) Developing biometric identification for smart cards.
2) Sharing information between government agencies through databases, intranets and other communication systems.
3) Protecting the Internet and other networks from attack.
4) Designing back-up systems.
5) Bring It All Home


If you’re seeking work in homeland security, keep the following in mind:

Be Prepared for Bureaucracy: Don’t discount the power of government bureaucracy to create obstacles to hiring. That is particularly true for those seeking work at DHS, says Fitzgerald, who notes the “long and trying process” many job seekers will face. “You need to examine whether you’re patient enough to make this happen,” he says.

Look Beyond the Government: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the DHS is where all the action is. “The best and most important IT work is not done by government employees who are on the government payroll,” Goodwin says. “It’s done by contractors.”

Follow the Contracts: Because many jobs in homeland security exist outside government, follow the trail of government contracts to find which private-sector employers are working on DHS-related projects. Check out articles at Government Security News, Government Technology and Washington Technology for leads. Conferences, such as the RSA Conference, is another way to learn about who’s working on homeland security projects.

Use Your Clearance: If you have a security clearance, you will have a much better chance of finding work in homeland security. “Security clearances are normally required to be an applicable candidate for this space,” Fitzgerald says.


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    pablo75

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am looking for a career in homeland security but do not know where to start, i have an associates degree in criminal justice and ongoing to get a bachelors degree in criminal justice, i live in the state of utah, and looking for a career with homeland security.

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    rhenz

    over 6 years ago

    6 comments

    sir can you post some career guidance for apeople like me who wants to work abd leave in your coutry..US has a greater upportunity FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO HAVE ambitions or dreams.i am a criminology graduate here in philippines and my country has offered this course and yet in terms of employment we are the least priority and now im trying my luck and work to any kind of job tht your place has for a lost girl like me...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    glejackisha

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    i am looking for a job with tsa (airport)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    sinceridad

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I WORK FOR A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION FOR 11 YEARS AND I WAS LAY OFF 10/07 AND IT WILL BE GREAT TO WORK FOR THE HOMELAND SECURITY IN ST. PETERSBURG, FL.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    nwdebbie

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I AM RETURNING TO THE WORKFORCE AFTER 4 YRS OF NOT WORKING. I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO START A NEW CAREER.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Arthur254

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have over twenty(20) years of experience in security and I would really love to serve my community and country with the ability/knowledge/expertise in security. I really would love to work with "Homeland Security".

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    tonydelgado

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    Very interesting! I have eperiencee in the aviation field as a retired comercial pilot,i will like to put my knowledge to serve the comunity.,Im interest in homeland security..,even I dont have the eperience I am ready to work with airports.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    santos

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I have just graduated ftom the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in drawing with a GPA of 3.47 and I also have an associate of arts in criminal justice from el Paso Community College, I want to put my knowledge to searve the community to make a better place to live.

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    reggiefairley37

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    i am interested in homeland security i have 8 years experience in law enforcement i'm also in the ms army national guard i have 18 years in i'm currently employed for georgia pacific and i'm looking for employment for the federal gov.

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    mldaugherty

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I will be retiring from the USMC in February, My background is purchasing and inventory management. Have loads of experience in this area as well as team building skills. Looking for private sector work as well as government.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ekalima

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    No comment

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    m_konneh

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    N/A

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    fisherman

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I'm also recently unemployed. I used to work in goverment and was just curious at the information on Homeland Security. I was in the private sector now like to get back into a goverment job. Don't quite have a BA degree but slowly working on that in IT. Any suggestion on how I can get back into a goverment job? and continue working on my degree?

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    christine_polhemus

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am recently unemployed. I have worked for Government contractors, in Human Resources, Security and Finance, for the past 21 years and holding a security clearance for the entire time. The above article depicts the industry very well.

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    kirby591959

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I recently retired from the U.S. Navy. I served aboard 4 submrines and have travelled the world. I retired after 24 years as a Chief Petty Officer and held a Top Secret SCI clearance. I'm interested in obtaining employment in Southeast Georgia or Northeast Florida and have a bachelors degree and tons of experience.

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