If you live in the state of Illinois and are interested in a career in homeland security, you should know that the only way to succeed in this competitive career field is to have the right combination of education and experience.

Experience will come naturally, after you land your first job or while pursuing an internship or other experiential learning opportunity, but education is something you have to go out and make happen on your own.

The best way to determine the type of education you will need is to know the exact career you wish to have in the field.

Once you know what job you wish to have, you can look at the qualifications of others doing the same job and thus tailor your educational experience to prepare you for your intended career. Most people working in the field, however, will have at least a bachelor’s degree.

This degree, or any other degree, does not necessarily have to be in homeland security specifically. In fact, while this is a good general degree, the majority of people will pursue more specific degrees, usually closely related to their intended career within the field.

The good news is, however, that no matter what major you wish to pursue or at what level, you will have a ton of choices in Illinois. There are many fine community colleges, trade and technical schools, traditional colleges and universities, and even online schooling opportunities based in the state.

In fact, the hard part won’t be finding a school that offers the program you are interested in; it will be deciding which one, out of many, is the right fit for you. Make sure you do, however, put a lot of thought into choosing a school, as being in the right educational environment for you and your learning style can make all the difference.

One Illinois school that offers a lot of relevant online programs in the field is American Intercontinental University, located in Hoffman Estates.

This school offers an associate’s degree in business administration with a focus on criminal justice administration, as well as bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice with a focus on special populations, criminal justice with a focus on forensic science, criminal justice with a focus on law enforcement, and criminal justice with a focus on special populations.

If this school isn’t the right one for you, don’t worry. The choices go on and on

Like American Intercontinental University, Argosy University, which has locations in both Chicago and Schaumburg, has several online and traditional programs in the field.

They include bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice, and master’s level programs in forensic psychology assessment, forensic psychology homeland security, forensic psychology law enforcement, forensic psychology treatment, general forensic psychology, emergency preparedness and response, and general homeland security.

These and many other fine choices can help to make your career dreams a reality. No matter what school you choose, working hard and giving your education your all is what will pay off in the end.