Top Government Security Jobs: TSA, DHS, NSA, and FEMA

Transportation Security Administration officers

When it comes to security guard jobs, the U.S, government has plenty of slots to fill. Consider the following alphabet soup of acronyms: TSA, DHS, NSA, FEMA. We’ll delve into each momentarily. For now, we present the list as a method of letting you know there are plenty of things that need watching at the federal level. As you might expect, top government security jobs can come with better pay and benefits than their civilian counterparts and more responsibility. This work is a little different than wandering the local mall like Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. For those with a keen interest in a federal security guard career, keep reading.

TSA (Transportation Security Administration)

Transportation Security AdministrationThe TSA is an agency that functions under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. Primary duties of TSA security guards are to insure traveler safety on the various modes of public transportation. Though visibility is perhaps the highest at airports, employment also exists in conjunction with trains, buses, and even boats.

Insuring traveler safety is achieved by a variety of means. The public most often observes a TSA agent checking belongings at security points in airports visually through x-rays and also through metal detection devices. Since there is such a high level of interaction with the public, the hiring process tries to insure agents have great communication skills and can deliver excellent customer service. Considering the crush of travelers at most large airports, a TSA agent’s work environment can be hectic. He or she needs to be able to stay cool under pressure.

DHS (Department of Homeland Security)

Department of Homeland SecurityCreated as a cabinet-level position by President George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for public security. With the continuing emphasis on preventing further attacks within America’s borders, there is plenty of opportunity for security careers with DHS. Here are a few examples:

  1. Secret Service
  2. Customs, Immigration, and Border Protection
  3. Federal Marshal service
  4. Coast Guard
  5. FEMA (more later on this one)

As you can see, DHS offers a variety of settings and lifestyles for career security-minded types. Want to protect the president and his family? Check. Prefer to serve as the front line in reinforcing the impenetrability of our nation’s borders? Check. Starting out, a security officer may earn less than $40,000 annually, however, if he or she sticks with it and finishes a college degree along the way, salaries for special agents can climb to over $100,000.

NSA (National Security Agency)

National Security AgencyIt’s less clear exactly what the NSA does, though it is a member of both the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. One thing is certain, this agency deals in uncovering the secret threats to our nation, both internally and externally. Security and law enforcement careers play a large role at the NSA. Below are examples of these types of jobs:

  1. Police Officer
  2. Polygraph Examiner
  3. Security Analyst

From providing physical security at agency installations at home and around the world to checking security clearances and doing background checks, an NSA career is sure not to be boring. Some factors that would work in your favor when applying for these positions would be foreign language knowledge, former military experience, physical security background, and – maybe strangely – business management.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

FEMAAs another agency that falls under the overall reach of the DHS, most people are aware of FEMA as the organization that swings into action in the event the president declares a national emergency. Though not confined to natural disasters, this is one example of the type of work environment you would be involved in. As you might imagine, there is a great need for security specialists at FEMA.

Working for this agency could require your deployment to disaster sites for periods of time ranging from days to weeks or even months. Expect that conditions may be less than optimal (the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is a good example). When not deployed, new hires could find themselves in working to verify security clearances for visitors and employees. As you work your way up the career ladder, you could find yourself providing advice to upper management on security concepts and policies.

The Bottom Line

What you should have gleaned from the preceding discussion is that there can be much more to a security guard career than a midnight patrol of backlot movie studio for peanuts. Federal employment for any of these agencies can turn into good pay and plenty of self-actualization at performing a vital service to the country. If you enjoy this kind of work, set your sights high and go for it. The application process can be tedious and time-consuming, but no one said life was supposed to be easy. Good luck in chasing and catching your dreams!

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