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Secure Opportunities in Counterterror

Looking for an opportunity with job security? Try a security job.

Corporate budgets for security are up, and government spending on counterterror measures supports about 140,000 jobs, public and private, according to Economy.com. More important to job seekers, security spending grows each year, creating employment opportunities while many other sectors remain stagnant.

Physical Security Jobs at Home and Abroad

Providing physical security -- whether by installing concrete barriers around the White House or surveilling shopping malls for wanted international criminals -- is a cornerstone of American counterterror efforts in the 2000s. Some of the best candidates for these jobs come straight out of the armed forces.

"When military people get out, some of them want to take off the green uniform and go to work for Halliburton or Blackwater Security and make a whole bunch of money in the Middle East," says Anne McKinney, author of Resumes and Cover Letters That Have Worked for Military Professionals.

Whether providing security for military convoys in Iraq at extraordinary risk to life and limb or just checking vehicles as they enter Fort Bragg in North Carolina, former servicemen and women with security experience are finding themselves in high demand, says McKinney.

Corporate Security

Large companies are not throwing money at the threat of terrorism as they did immediately after the attacks on New York and Washington, DC, but security is still a board-level concern. And major employers are the place to go for folks who seek upward mobility within the security disciplines.

For those who want to put security skills to work within corporate information technology, the future is promising. "The information security market could really be a driver over the next few years," says Timothy Starks, a reporter with the newsletter CQ Homeland Security.

"When you're talking about high-level security leadership -- in charge of both physical and information security -- demand is high and rising," says Derek Slater, editor of CSO magazine, which is written for security executives. It can be difficult for corporations to find candidates who can communicate effectively with everyone within a company, from the security guards to the chief information officer.

To successfully move up to the position of chief security officer, "an information security person must learn business language," says Slater. Similarly, those who rise from law enforcement must transcend the rigid, hierarchical thinking they've probably been trained in.

High Compensation at the Top

For security professionals now in government service, incentives to jump to the corporate side can be strong. "Anybody with a security clearance is in a heck of a lot of demand right now," says Starks. "Salaries are increasing exponentially, and you can generally get a $20,000 increase going from a government job to the private sector."

Another growing area is information security as applied to cyberwar defense. "I think it will create jobs," says Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, DC. "IT demands in government have been substantial and are predicted to increase significantly."

Civil Service and Government Contracting Niches

Although the hiring surge for airport screeners has come and gone, many federal agencies are looking to beef up their workforces or hire privatized help in security-related positions. "There's significantly more hiring around issues like border security, particularly cargo containers and immigration," says Stier.

The government is also staffing up for intelligence, including biosurveillance, says Stier. "The government is developing a new capacity for the new bioterror threat."

Government has been the leading creator of jobs in the 2000s, but job seekers must put up with a lot in order to land a civil service job. "The hire process is broken," says Stier. "Applicants have to avoid being turned off by unclear and less-than-exhilarating language in job descriptions."

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