Homeland Security Support Specialist

Recognized Skill Standards
October 18, 2011

Background

This skill standards development project was initiated by the Lamar Institute of Technology in December, 2006, as part of a curriculum development initiative under the auspices of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, in which education applicants develop and achieve recognition for skill standards and meet the requirements for program recognition in order to qualify for an incentive grant of $15,000 from federal Perkins Leadership funds.

The Homeland Security Support Specialist skill standards address a growing demand for specialists to manage security concerns in federal, state, and local government as well as private industry and nonprofit organizations. Because of America's concern with homeland security, new job areas and career opportunities are developing, not only in military and law enforcement fields, but also in scientific research, information technology, bio-medical technology, disaster assistance and relief, air marshal operations, intelligence operations, and other areas.

A report published in 2004 by Technology Futures, Inc., Homeland Security: A Technology Forecast, presents the following findings:

  • There is little doubt that attractive employment opportunities in homeland security in Texas will grow dramatically in the future, and will remain intact for the foreseeable future since it appears the basic threat will continue.
  • Of the areas studied, Network Security, Data Warehouse Administration, and Critical Infrastructure Security appear to offer the most potential for attractive employment opportunities in Texas.

These skill standards establish a benchmark for any of these areas of specialization to distinguish itself as an emerging occupational area. They are available as a reference should a formalized representative group from any of these areas wish to amend, update, and submit for recognition as a more occupation-specific set of skill standards.

Project Goals

The project goals were:

  • Identify voluntary skill standards for homeland security support specialist occupational areas to serve as benchmark for entry into these occupational areas and to serve as guides for curriculum development of community and technical college programs of study that will effectively meet the needs of both the newly graduated entry-level worker and the seasoned professional returning to education to upgrade his or her workplace skills.
  • Publish and promote the results and support the use of skill standards by educators, businesses, unions, students, workers, and government agencies.

Development and Validation Methods

A job analysis was conducted in Texas in 2004, which resulted in the creation of a DACUM chart of duties, tasks, skills, and tools. The skill standards developed in this project are based on the 2004 DACUM.

A panel of subject matter experts (SMEs), all of whom participated in the original DACUM development sessions, including current and former law enforcement, FBI, emergency management, and consultants from Washington, DC, and Texas, developed the skill standards.

Duties and tasks were transcribed from the DACUM as Critical Work Functions (CWFs) and Key Activities (KAs) respectively. The SMEs validated that the DACUM elements were transcribed accurately and aggregated appropriately into CWFs and KAs, and defined performance criteria for each of the KAs.

The SMEs also defined knowledge, skills, and conditions (tools) for each of the KAs. The knowledge, skills, and conditions that 50% or greater of the respondents indicated as necessary to each KA were included in the skill standards.

Finally, SMEs rated the complexity of each of seventeen academic and employability skill areas on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 indicating low complexity, and 5 indicating high complexity). The average of the responses was used to indicate the complexity level the CWF required of each knowledge or skill area.

In any skill standards development effort it is critical to consider all views of the participants to ensure that the outcome reflects a truly consensus-based effort. There was concern among the SMEs that the title "Homeland Security Support Specialist" might be a misnomer due to the truly broad reach of the knowledge area. This was resolved through discussion and by reaching agreement that, indeed, the many areas in which security is a concern all have a need for individuals who specialize in homeland security-related areas of knowledge.

During development, discussion focused on the type of job that a graduate with an AAS degree based on the skill standards could obtain. Given the nature of community college programs it was acknowledged that much of the community college student population includes people already in the workforce who use technical training to enhance their on-the-job skills and marketability. The SMEs acknowledged that community colleges offering AAS degrees and certificate-level credentials are an effective means to increase the skill levels of the diverse population of individuals who work in the many areas where security is a concern.

Recognition

The Homeland Security Support Specialist skill standards  were recognized in accordance with the Guidelines for the Development, Recognition, and Usage of Skill Standards on May 22, 2007. The recognition was extended on October 18, 2011.