The Bourne Directory

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for public security, roughly comparable to the interior or home ministries of other countries. Its stated missions involve anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management.

It began operations in 2003, formed as a result of the Homeland Security Act, enacted the previous year in response to the 9/11 attacks. With more than 240,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy.


  • Homeland Security Agent Job Requirements

Keeping the United States safe is a full-time job for the over 400,000 civil service professionals and contractors of the Department of Homeland Security. Not simply a single agency, the department is actually an umbrella organization that connects multiple distinct agencies with specific requirements and scope of work.

However, all of the agencies in DHS are deeply involved in protecting the people of the United States from varied threats including criminal enterprises, espionage, and terrorism. If you have considered a career in homeland security but don't know where to start or what the requirements are, we have identified a few entry-level positions in the department where you may be able to begin your career.

Homeland Security Agencies[]

Agencies within the Department of Homeland Security that have entry-level positions as homeland security agents include:

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Customs and Border Protection (CPB)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • U.S. Secret Service
  • United States Coast Guard

While the coast guard is considered a part of the Department of Defense (DOD) as well as the Department of Homeland Security, and therefore a military service, there are many entry-level civilian positions as part of the coast guard's workforce.

What Are The Requirements To Be A Homeland Security Agent?[]

As a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the various agencies conduct investigations and operations into activities that are potentially dangerous and ramifications for the security of the nation. These operations can be both foreign and domestic in nature and may require extensive travel. The minimum qualifications include the following:

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Able to pass a criminal background check
  • Qualify for a Secret or Top Secret security clearance
  • Pass a drug screening
  • Pass a polygraph examination
  • Pass a version of the civil service exam with a competitive score
  • High degree of physical fitness
  • At least age 18 but no older than 37

Although individual agencies have varying requirements in addition to these, they are firm requirements that can be depended on rom agency to agency in their entry-level positions.

Homeland Security Agent Qualities[]

Homeland Security needs agents that are problem solvers that have well-developed critical thinking skills. The positions require a high degree of teamwork and the ability to empathize and relate to people from drastically different lifestyles. An agent may need to investigate and arrest people, some of whom are very dangerous, and some positions require carrying a firearm. The position may require long hours, significant amounts of travel, a vast amount of paperwork and lonely hours spent analyzing complex information. It is understood that individuals who are able to thrive in a high-stress environment will naturally be more successful in the field of homeland security.

Education & Training Requirements[]

If you do not have prior military or civil service experience, it can be difficult to break in to a homeland security agency. Many only consider prior service candidates and even those that don't are subject to veteran’s preference. With that said, the growth of contract work and internships within DHS is opening doors to candidates to which the traditional civil service career path was the path of most resistance.

While some entry-level positions in the department, including Transportation Security Officers for TSA, do not require degrees the prospects of a candidate can be dramatically increased by pursuing a degree that is applicable to the position. A degree in criminal justice, especially one that focuses on homeland security as a concentration, can prepare a candidate to be competitive in pursuit of an entry-level position within the department.

Pay and Benefits[]

Homeland Security Agents enjoy excellent pay and benefits nationwide but in the Virginia area, it can be an even more lucrative occupation when the cost of living adjustments are taken into consideration. An entry-level officer position usually starts at the GS-07 pay rate, which pays $41,791. Some positions may include pay raises and promotions up to the GS-13 pay scale, which maxes out at $114,595 per year according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Other benefits include generous sick leave, health insurance, and retirement plan packages similar to other government employees.

The Future of Homeland Security[]

The next ten years in the homeland security sector are going to be crucial. Physical security concerns are going to remain a high priority, but as technology advances and cybercrime and cyber terrorist activity are on the rise the Department of Homeland Security is going to need a fresh generation of tech-savvy candidates to take the place of the old guard.

Bourne Attraction[]

In the Universal Orlando resort theme park tourist attraction, The Bourne Stuntacular, Nicky Parsons appears in the Bourne Stuntacular as the agent liaison, who worked for Andrea Dixon in Homeland Security, who briefs the guests on the mission they're about to see to warn the guests that she's afraid of Jason Bourne's latest mission, which may include rogue double agents and rouge goverment officials, and so she needs help making sure that's not the case. Nicky also defines her relationship with Jason Bourne as "complicated", during the debrief Nicky mentions that after she was shot in Athens, Greece; Jason Bourne believes that she's dead, when she is not, because she went underground into hiding in order to keep her distance to protect Jason by staying away from him.