Careers in Counter Terrorism

Explore Jobs on the Front Lines in the Fight Against Terrorism

There are few threats that unite the local, state and federal law enforcement community more than terrorism. Since the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the fight against those who would purposefully hurt or kill innocent civilians has been at the forefront. The importance of that fight has been underscored time and again by terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East, and you can be a part of the team that serves to protect the innocent from these threats by exploring one of these exciting jobs in counter-terrorism.

National Security Agency Jobs

NSA Security Operations Center
Inside the NSA Security Operations Center. National Security Agency

The National Security Agency is the premier signal intelligence entity for the entire United States intelligence community. If you choose to work for the NSA, you may find yourself intercepting phone signals, reviewing internet communications, decoding encrypted messages, or reviewing scores of satellite images for evidence and intelligence. 

CIA Agent

CIA Headquarters
CIA Headquarters in Langley, VA. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Probably the most famous section of spooks in the world, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency differs from the NSA in that CIA agents' primary focus is human intelligence, as opposed to signals intelligence. That means building relationships with people to get them to pass along secrets and infiltrating organizations to gather crucial information that could prevent future attacks.

Police Cryptologist

Police cryptology
Police cryptologists break codes to track criminals and fight terrorism. artpartner-images/Getty Images

The field of cryptology is all about coding and encryption. If you are a wiz at mathematics or computer science, then you should have no trouble in this fascinating career. As a cryptologist, your focus will be on encrypting friendly communications and decrypting enemy codes to find clues that can lead to actionable intelligence against dangerous organizations.

Forensic Accountant

Woman double checking spreadsheet with fountain pen and ballpoint
RapidEye / Getty Images

Committing acts of terror takes money, and terrorist organizations have grown quite adept at hiding their funding. As a forensic accountant, you'll be able to trace funds and help law enforcement agencies freeze assets to stop terrorism in its tracks before it can even begin.

Railroad Police and Special Agent

CSX Railroad Police Patch. Dave Conner via flickr Creative Commons

Goods and commodities still get transported by train in the United States, leaving the U.S. economy vulnerable to an attack against the railway system. As a private railroad police officer or special agent, your job will be to maintain security along the railroad infrastructure and to keep cargo and passengers safe as they travel across the country along the railways.

FBI Agent


The Federal Bureau of Investigations is probably the most renown investigations organization in the United States. FBI agents play a major role in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. They take the lead in investigations of suspected terrorism on U.S. soil and provide assistance to other nations when requested. They also infiltrate organizations to help prevent attacks and capture potential terrorists before they can do any harm.

DEA Agent

DEA Agents
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents prepare to serve a warrant. Image copyright Ryan Lackey 2012. Ryan Lackey

Much of terrorism is funded through the sale and trade of illegal drugs. As a DEA agent, you'll be on the front lines of the war on drugs. You'll likely go undercover to infiltrate drug cartels, identify major suppliers and help keep drugs out of the U.S. and drug money out of the hands of terrorists.

Jobs in Border Protection and Security

U.S. Border Patrol
Border Patrol agents investigate a landing spot on the Rio Grande. U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Whether with the U.S. Border Patrol services, Customs and Border Protection or Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, border protection and security careers play a pivotal role in keeping terrorism out of the United States.

Crime Analyst

Computer Key Board
Digital Forensics Examiners dig deep to root out computer crime. TEK IMAGE/Getty Images

The entire job of a criminal analyst is to dig deep into information and intelligence to identify trends that can help break up crime and terrorism. As a crime analyst, you'll have a front row seat as you work hand in hand with law enforcement agencies to provide them with the information they need to fight terrorism at home and abroad.

Department of Defense Law Enforcement and Investigative Careers

California National Guard MP's
California National Guard Military Police Conduct Training Exercises. California National Guard

The many armed forces of the United States offer a host of opportunities to protect military assets and fight terrorism worldwide. Whether with an investigative service such as the NCIS or as a Department of Defense police officer, you'll be a part of the team that protects our forces all over the world.

You Can Help Save Lives by Working in Criminal Justice

You don't have to work in counter terrorism to make a difference. So many careers in criminal justice and criminology are all about protecting people and saving lives. Whether at the local, state or federal level, if you think you have what it takes to help others every day, then you should consider working in public safety or security.