Florida residents who are thinking of entering into or who are currently trying to enter into the homeland security field often have many questions about the field in general and about the type of work they can expect to do in it.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t some one-size-fits-all-answer to this oft-asked question. In fact, the best answer is really just a big, “It depends,” because it does.

What you will find yourself doing will depend upon the specific area of homeland security in which you work, your level of experience and/or education as it relates to your specific career, and much more.

In general, however, we can tell you that all homeland security professionals have the same big-picture goal in mind, and that is to protect our nation and keep it safe from threats of all kinds.

These threats might be other people or terrorists, illegal immigrants who want to enter our nation for covert and potentially dangerous reasons, and even objects coming into our nation that might carry with them the threat of disease or some other type of harm.

Homeland security professionals enforce federal laws to protect our nation from these threats and more.

Each homeland security agent or officer will generally have a specialty area or a “category” in which they work.

The Department of Homeland Security divides the majority of its jobs up into one of the following categories: Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Emergency Management, United States Coast Guard, Federal Law Enforcement, and the United States Secret Service.

Each category will have within it literally hundreds of jobs, each with its own responsibilities, daily tasks, requirements, and goals.

The one big thing in common between all of these areas is that almost all available jobs, across all the categories, will require professionals to have a formal education of some sort. In fact, the vast majority of professionals working in homeland security in any aspect will possess at least a bachelor’s level degree.

This degree does not have to be in homeland security specifically and most often is not. However, it is generally related to the job that the person holds or wishes to hold. A lot of people also tend to enter into their homeland security career by doing the same or a similar job at the state or other more localized level.

A police officer, for example, might hold a degree in law enforcement, work at the state or county level, and then eventually move up to work as homeland security law enforcement.

As you can see, however, education really is key no matter what you wish to do in the field. This is why you are strongly encouraged to set career goals in place early, to know what it takes to reach them, and then to plan your education and any other training around meeting that career goal.

That is, hands down, the easiest way to ensure long-lasting success with your career. That, of course, and realistic knowledge about the field and the job being entered into.

Far too many people enter into careers or training in homeland security without really knowing anything about the field. Often, they do so just because they have heard that the money is good (it is), about the wealth of benefits offered, or just for the prestige and expected excitement of working in homeland security.

These, however, really can’t compare to the reality of working a dangerous job, often with exhausting responsibilities, unending hours of work, and real danger to the professional doing the job. While there are upsides to working in homeland security, the truth is that only those who truly love what they do will be able to make it in this demanding and often difficult career field.

The best way to make sure that you are entering into homeland security for the right reasons is to do your research. Thoroughly study the job you are seeking. Know all that it entails, what the risks are to you, and what will be expected of you both now and in the future. That is the only way to avoid surprises to and have a long and happy career.