14 Pros and Cons of Working for the Department of Homeland Security

Looking for a career that offers a sense of adventure, stability, and a chance to make a difference in the world?

Consider looking into a position with Homeland Security.

Woman working for the Department of Homeland Security

Established in 2002, Homeland Security is made up of 22 different departments and agencies and employs 350,000 people.

They provide opportunities in a variety of areas such as drug and human trafficking control, border security, private security, and emergency response.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of working with the Department of Homeland Security.

Pros of Working for the Department of Homeland Security

1. Paid Training Opportunities

The Department of Homeland Security offers a few different options that make furthering your education easier and less expensive.

They offer paid training opportunities to help you gain the necessary skills for advancement.

They also offer a tuition reimbursement program.

For anyone who has already graduated from a school of higher education, can take advantage of a program set up to help you repay your student loans.

All in all, the opportunities are greater than almost any other employer.

2. Wide Variety of Positions

With so many different departments that fall under the Homeland Security umbrella, you have many choices on which direction you will pursue.

You may work for airport or border security, gather intelligence, work in cyber-crimes, or work with law or customs enforcement.

You may instead choose transportation or private security or work with organizations that respond to disasters.

There is a direction that may appeal to just about everyone’s interest.

3. The Chance to Make a Difference

When you know that what you do matters, your job satisfaction score soars.

The Department of Homeland Security offers many opportunities to help others.

Their very existence is based on making this country safe for its citizens, so you always know your work matters.

To further drive home this point, you can focus on fighting drug or human trafficking or find yourself in a position to aid victims of natural disasters and other tragedies.

You can see the difference you make in the world.

4. Great Diversity of Coworkers

The Department of Homeland Security has one of the most diverse worker bases there.

Almost equally divided between men and women, there is also a wide diversity among races, ethnicities, and religions.

You will find yourself working with coworkers from every walk of life.

This is also a place where you can count on rising through the ranks based solely on your effort.

Regardless of where you start, your success will never be thwarted by factors such as gender, race, or religion.

5. Great Benefits

Being a government agency, working for the Department of Homeland Security offers great benefits to its workers.

The pay increases are regular and often start off slightly higher than the majority of positions.

You get eleven paid holidays off each year as well as a generous paid-time-off policy.

The insurance is one of the best, as is the retirement plans.

They also offer a 401(k)-type program that will match up to five percent of your contribution.

Overall, you won’t find better benefits in other jobs.

6. Wide Variety of Action Levels

Want to work with computers all day?

The Department of Homeland Security has you covered.

Want to patrol the borders, either on land or on a boat?

They have you covered.

Want to solve crimes with your excellent investigative skills or work at breaking up drug rings?

That’s covered also.

The number of different organizations that fall under this umbrella is so varied that you are likely to find one that meets your need for either adventure or a quiet environment with very little human contact.

7. Chance to Work Remotely

Like all other parts of society, COVID allowed the Department of Homeland Security to realize that many of their positions could be effectively carried out remotely.

Now that things have returned to normal, many people in these positions have been allowed to continue working remotely.

This opens up the possibilities for people in many areas of the country to obtain positions they previously were unable to consider without packing up and moving.

This makes the positions much more appealing.

Cons of Working With the Department of Homeland Security

1. Working Weekends, Evenings, and Holidays

For the first couple of years that you work in any area of Homeland Security, you are at the bottom of the scheduling pool.

Those who work in these jobs tend to stay for the long term, so you may find yourself working many weekends, nights, and holidays, especially in the areas that deal with disaster relief or emergency response.

If you stick around, that will change eventually but may take a few years before you have gained enough seniority to claim the better work schedules.

2. Competitive Advancement Opportunities

While there are many opportunities for advancement, there are so many people who work for Homeland Security that there are literally hundreds of applicants for every open position.

It can be difficult waiting for people to retire or for you to gain enough experience to effectively compete for your desired position.

You may spend a great deal of time moving from one position to another and taking advantage of the paid educational opportunities before you get that coveted position.

3. Federal Funding Required

Being in the government sector, the Department of Homeland Security is subject to government funding.

This can mean that there are periods when funding is cut and employees need to be laid off for a period of time.

This could leave you needing to find temporary work to make ends meet if your unemployment benefits don’t stretch far enough.

It can also leave you feeling lost and scared about the future of your position.

This makes waiting to be called back difficult.

4. Dealing With the Public

Not only do you have to deal with the public, which can be stressful for many people, but often you are dealing with people who are in situations where they are not happy.

You could be working with people who are terrified because of a disaster and they are not in a position to act their best.

In other cases, you could be dealing with angry individuals who have broken the law and are not happy about being caught and facing the consequences of their actions.

A third group, those who simply don’t like government interference, may become hostile to your efforts.

These jobs can stretch your patience to the limit.

5. Government Control Changes Frequently

Every time a new person takes office at the highest level, things change.

This can change the policies you must understand and work under.

It can mean the change of the complete internal structure of your office and have everyone confused about what they should and should not be doing.

Then, when a new administration comes into power, you have to go through the changes again.

For those who want things to stay consistent, this can be overwhelming.

6. Potentially Dangerous Situations

For many of the positions in Homeland Security, you could be facing potentially dangerous situations.

Security positions are inherently prone to danger often.

Rescue groups such as the Coast Guard face adverse weather conditions, as do those who are called in during natural disasters.

Those responsible for working against drug and human trafficking or border issues also face dangers on a regular basis.

You have to know what you are facing if you choose to work in these areas.

7. Frustration With Outdated Policies

This is the government we are talking about.

Very often, policies don’t change as quickly as society does.

This can be a frustrating situation for forward-thinking people.

This is especially true of the younger candidates for jobs.

You will need to face the reality that you will often feel like you are working in the past, rather than in the world as it is today, and trying to get the higher staff to recognize the need to change can be frustrating in most cases.

You will need to initiate any changes slowly, and maybe not at all.

Should You Work For the Department of Homeland Security?

As with any career, you need to take time to understand what you are looking for and then way the pros and cons to see how they measure up to your needs.

Great benefits, a variety of position choices, and the chance to make a difference all add up to a job that has the potential of being a dream job.

Yet, this government department often ranks at the bottom of employee satisfaction surveys.

Other employees think the security and chances for advancement make this the best.

Overall, it ranks better than most careers in general, so this is a position worth looking into further.

Pros and Cons of Working for the Department of Homeland Security Summary Table

Pros of Working for the Department of Homeland SecurityCons of Working With the Department of Homeland Security
Paid Training OpportunitiesWorking Weekends, Evenings, and Holidays
Wide Variety of PositionsCompetitive Advancement Opportunities
The Chance to Make a DifferenceFederal Funding Required
Great Diversity of CoworkersDealing With the Public
Great BenefitsGovernment Control Changes Frequently
Wide Variety of Action LevelsPotentially Dangerous Situations
Chance to Work RemotelyFrustration With Outdated Policies

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

2 Responses to 14 Pros and Cons of Working for the Department of Homeland Security

  1. Avatar
    Aaron Foley #

    This is a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of a legal career at the Department of Homeland Security. As someone considering this path, I appreciate the insights on the potential for impactful work but also the challenges that come with it.

  2. Avatar
    Emmett Jimenez #

    As a law student interested in government service, this breakdown is incredibly helpful. It’s refreshing to see the honest discussion about the demanding nature of the work at DHS.

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