For those North Carolina residents who dream of having a career in homeland security, the good news is that there are many wonderful educational opportunities in the state. The bad news is that, with so many great choices, selecting just one—or at least only one at a time—will likely prove difficult.

You can narrow down your choices, however, and improve your chances of success in the field by putting in some research long before you even start looking at schools. Your research should start out simply, with you learning as much as you possibly can about the career field in general.

From there, however, it will need to expand to you becoming familiar with the many different career options available under the homeland security umbrella. There are literally hundreds of different jobs that you can have in the field, and though it might seem impossible, knowing about all of them is the only way to ensure that you do not miss out on a career that could end up being your perfect match.

You don’t have to, of course, find out in depth information about every job you come across. You’ll want to save that higher level of research for the jobs that you could realistically see yourself doing.

With these jobs that are of interest to you, you will want to devote time to learning about the nature of the work. Find out what the daily tasks and responsibilities are, what a normal working schedule looks like for such a professional, and anything else that you can.

Then, determine the necessary requirements, such as schooling, for being hired for such a position. Be honest with yourself about whether or not you are willing and/or able to live up to those requirements.

When you find a job for which your willingness and ability levels match up to your enthusiasm, then you have what is known as a career goal.

A career goal is an incredibly important part of your quest, because it will be what you base your entire education and everything else you do from this point on around. So, don’t take setting your goal lightly.

Of course, you also won’t want to take choosing a school lightly either. The right school can either make or break your chances for success in the field.

As mentioned above, however, there are many excellent schooling options in the state, so finding the right one shouldn’t prove too difficult.

One good, simple, and, best of all, very affordable school in the state is Alamance Community College, located in the small town of Graham.

This school has an excellent and very relevant associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology. A similar school is Beaufort County Community College, in the beach town of Washington, which offers an associate’s degree program in the same subject area, as well as a certification program in basic law enforcement training.

Then there’s Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College of Asheville, which has a good associate’s degree program in criminal justice technology.

A couple of other great, but larger scale choices include Appalachian State University, in Boone, offering bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice and in risk management and assurance, as well as master’s level programs in public administration and criminal justice; and Barton College, in Wilson, which has bachelor’s degree programs in both general criminal justice and criminology.

It is important to note that Barton is a private institution, so it tends to be a bit on the expensive side. However, its small, personalized learning environment is a good fit for many students, especially those who struggle in less intimate environments. Another good, small private school is Belmont Abbey College, which has a dual bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice and security studies.

Private college seekers might also consider Campbell University, in Buies Creek, which offers bachelor’s degree programs in both criminal justice administration and information technology/security.

Other smaller choices, though these are not expensive in the least, include Brunswick Community College in Supply, which has a certification program in law enforcement training, and Cape Fear Community College of Wilmington, offering an associate’s degree in criminal justice technology, certification in the same, and in industrial security.