As a Virginia resident who is interested in pursuing a career as a homeland security agent, you should know that getting an education is the most important thing that you will do as you prepare to take on the career you’ve always dreamed of. Therefore, you must take the decision of which school to attend and what you will major in quite seriously.

In order to help you to do so, we have provided three vital steps to getting started as a homeland security agent in your state. If you follow these steps carefully, then you are almost certain to have success.

Step #1: Research the Field and Careers:

Did you know that, contrary to popular belief, homeland security agents do not all do the same jobs? When most people think of these professionals, they think of the Secret Service and Border Patrol, the dramatic colors of the field. While these are most definitely real jobs that you can have, they are not the only ones or even the most common choices.

There are literally hundreds of different jobs that homeland security agents can do, and the only way to find the right one for you is to do your research.

Sit down at your computer or go visit to the closest library to learn more about your career options and about the field in general. When you find a career that seems like it could be a good fit for you, take your research one step further and learn about the educational and/or other requirements for that particular job.

When you find a job that you truly want to do and for which you are willing and able to complete the necessary requirements, then you will know that you have found your ideal match, and you can start planning your career to meet your overall goals.

Step #2: Select a Major

Even when you know what your career objectives are, the major you should choose will not always be cut and dry. Sometimes, you will have a lot of different options that sound right. In any event, it is better to choose your major before you select your school.

This might seem like an odd order, but doing it this way will ensure that you get the best possible major for you and your established goals. Common majors include forensic studies, criminal justice, general forensic science, homeland security itself, emergency management, criminology, and many others.

Step #3: Select Your School

The next step is to determine what kind of a school you would like to attend. For the majority of homeland security professionals, traditional colleges and universities, which give you the chance to earn your bachelor’s degree or other higher level degree all at one time, are the answer.

Others, however, and particularly those who have to balance their educations with work or family demands, will choose to attend community colleges or trade or technical schools or even online schools. With community colleges, you can earn your associate’s degree first and then transfer the credits obtained to an accredited undergraduate institution.

With online institutions, you can create a schedule that works with you and your lifestyle, and you will be able to work at your own pace. In any event, earning your degree is often faster and much more affordable than if you had gone the traditional route.

Step #4: Choose Your School and Apply

Your last step is the one you have been eager to get to throughout this whole process- selecting a school. Since you now know what major you want to pursue and what kind of a school you wish to attend, this becomes so much simpler and a lot less time consuming than it originally would have been.

Once you have chosen the school that is the best fit for you and are certain is fully accredited, you are ready to embark upon the application process.

For most schools, the process typically involves an application fee, a written essay ,and your answers to in depth essay questions. Give your application everything you’ve got, and always try and apply for more than one school, so that, no matter what, you can be sure to start your education right away.