If you live in the beautiful state of Arkansas and have aspirations of one day becoming a homeland security officer, then you probably have lots of questions about just how to get started in the field. The exact answers to your questions will depend heavily upon the exact job you wish to have in homeland security.

Contrary to popular belief, not all homeland security professionals work in the same way, and, in fact, there are a variety of different jobs which they can choose from. It is imperative that you first know what kind of work you wish to do. Having this goal in mind will help you to plan your education and/or other training accordingly.

Regardless of the job you select, you are more than likely going to need some kind of formal educational training. The vast majority of jobs in the field require that applicants hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Most commonly, people receive bachelor’s degrees in homeland security itself, or in closely related areas like criminal justice or law enforcement. Some jobs in the field, however, will require more specialized and less general degrees. Again, this is why having your career goals firmly in mind from the start is key.

The good news is that, no matter what degree or future job you are interested in pursuing, Arkansas has many excellent colleges and universities with strong educational programs. One school known for having a particularly good program in homeland security specifically is Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, which has an associate’s degree program that also features an emphasis on emergency management as well.

Other top community colleges to consider include East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City, National Park Community College in Hot Springs, SouthArk Community College in El Dorado, the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, and the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

Of course, the vast majority of students won’t attend community colleges. This is because most community colleges only offer simple associate’s degrees which, on their own without further education, are rarely enough to catapult prospective officers into the careers they want.

This is the main reason that traditional colleges and universities, offering at least bachelor’s degrees, are much more common among those who enter into the homeland security field.

Arkansas Northeastern College, located in Blytheville, for example, is quite popular thanks to its degree program in criminal justice. Likewise, Arkansas State University offers bachelor’s degree programs in criminology and forensic science, as well as a master’s degree program in criminal justice.

Arkansas State University at Beebe is another popular choice, thanks to its bachelor’s degree program in general criminology, as well as its certification programs in crime scene investigation, law enforcement administration, and corrections.

There are many other fine choices as well, such as Arkansas State University at Mountain Home, but the real trick is to simply find the school and program that works for you and your unique goals.