9 Counterterrorism Careers (With Duties and Salaries)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 15 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
In the modern world, counterterrorism is a key government activity that aims to ensure the safety of national infrastructures and the general public. Those who work in counterterrorism are generally highly trained, have high-level national security clearance and operate collaboratively with other agencies and field experts, for example, those in cybersecurity. Understanding career choices available in the counterterrorism industry and what certifications and experience are required can help you determine if this career path is right for you. In this article, we discuss nine counterterrorism careers and explore the primary duties and expected salary range of each.
What are counterterrorism careers?
Before learning about counterterrorism careers, it's helpful to review what this term means. Terrorism generally refers to political or ideological acts of violence that challenge community, political and cultural safety. Counterterrorism acts to predict and prevent those acts of violence. While most policing jobs relate to investigating and gathering information for prosecution, counterterrorism careers aim to mitigate potential community harm by tracing the activities of individuals and groups and preventing them from taking planned destructive actions.
Counterterrorism careers operate across key government departments, but the Centre for Counter-Terrorism Coordination (CCTC) oversees all activities in Australia. Personnel from the CCTC are available to advise private businesses and large community organisations, such as churches, mosques and synagogues. There is also a collaboration between this government agency and relevant teams within the police force, special tactical units, the defence forces and groups in other nations.
9 counterterrorism careers
Here are nine counterterrorism careers with matching duty description and their average salary:
National average salary: $91,382 per year
Primary duties: Intelligence analysts gather data related to threats to the community and national safety and can play a crucial role in the prevention of terrorist attacks and extremist activity. These professionals can work with government agencies and prepare reports on the likelihood of terrorist attacks after a thorough analysis of data gathered from various sources. These professionals may work collaboratively with cybersecurity professionals to assess online terrorist activity and help government agencies intercept communications.
Intelligence analysts also play a fundamental role in the solving of high-level and complex problems by spotting patterns in data that can indicate an imminent security threat. From this, they can deliver advice to government agencies on how to approach the risk and prevent further threat to the community. Intelligence analysts may be required to work with large volumes of data.
National average salary: $75,404 per year
Primary duties: Intelligence agents help maintain public security by identifying potential national security threats like terrorist attacks. These professionals work in both public and covert operations and can become highly acquainted with terrorist groups and cells as well as members and others who may provide financial support. Intelligence agents can work in diverse settings and their investigations may involve overseas counterterrorism organisations, translators and the ability to apply advanced technology to cases of identity theft, money-laundering and international financial transactions.
National average salary: $109,985 per year
Primary duties: Cybersecurity analysts are professionals who work with computers to protect company and government information and identify threats that may steal information or hack systems. These professionals are crucial to identifying cyber-terrorism offences such as ransomware or cyber-attacks on government or businesses that are crucial to nationwide infrastructure.
Cybersecurity analysts gather data using specialist software to find potential weaknesses in security protection. These professionals produce threat assessment reports that they can then forward to relevant authorities or a client such as a government department. In these reports, cybersecurity analysts may recommend methods of reinforcement to protect vital community infrastructures, such as healthcare and utilities like gas and electricity.
National average salary: $101,290 per year
Primary duties: Federal police officers work for the Australian Federal Police and work to ensure national security. Some of these officers specialise in fighting terrorism. They work collaboratively with policing authorities and government agencies to identify and deter terrorist activity. This can include identifying and deterring extremist activity and terrorist cell networks within Australia and may involve working closely within the community. Other duties may include administering advice to businesses on how to maintain secure supply chains and import operations.
Related: How to Become a Police Officer
National average salary: $115,192 per year
Primary duties: Penetration testers are cybersecurity professionals who run diagnostic testing to identify weaknesses in organisations' networks. These professionals can work for government organisations to monitor the potential impact of cyber warfare that terrorists use to degrade national infrastructure. Testers run simulated attacks to assess the impact of cyber-terrorist attacks, which helps them advise organisations on how they can respond to threats if they occur.
They also help networks reinforce their cybersecurity proactively to prevent attacks from taking place. Their main focus is to identify weaknesses before cyber-criminals do, giving networks adequate time to place extra reinforcements to protect against cyber-criminals. These professionals may also work in partnership with the authorities to help them mitigate the impact of hacking and ransomware.
National average salary: $91,902 per year
Primary duties: Detectives are policing professionals who compile evidence and information, primarily relating to homicides or mass violence such as terrorism. Detectives are critical in counterterrorism because they help find motives and background information on potential terrorists. Generally, these professionals work closely with other policing professionals to build a conclusive case against criminals.
This helps detectives find evidence that can support a conviction if the case goes to court. Detectives may conduct thorough investigations of terrorist cells to find out whether they work for wider terrorist organisations or operate individually on a 'lone-wolf' basis. This helps local and national authorities decide on how large the threat is and whether a large-scale terror attack is imminent from members of the same cell or ideology. Detectives also differ from other criminal investigators as they have similar powers as police and can arrest wanted criminals.
Related: How to Become a Detective
National average salary: $108,706 per year
Primary duties: Translators can be critical professionals when tackling international terrorism threats. These professionals may work collaboratively with government agencies and counterterrorism units to translate intelligence reports. From this, counter-terrorism services can determine the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Specifically, they may translate or make sense of intercepted communications.
This can include listening in on phone calls, translating seized documents or training counterterrorism professionals on how to speak or understand the language used in their investigation. Translators and linguists may work collaboratively to deconstruct messages in foreign languages that have hidden meanings or may be providing instructions on acts of terrorism. This helps authorities intercept terrorist activity before any violent acts have occurred.
National average salary:$71,646 per year
Primary duties: Border patrol agents secure land and sea borders at points of entry to secure national security from international threats. These professionals ensure the safety of incoming and outgoing residents and tourists by inspecting luggage and questioning visitors at the border. They may seize the possessions of individuals who have insufficient documentation or are accused of suspicious activity.
Border patrol agents may work on instruction and advice from government agencies, such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, to secure individuals who may pose a threat to national security. Border agents may also take tip-offs from agencies and prevent suspicious individuals from leaving the country. This can happen if the individual is fleeing arrest, for example.
National average salary: $85,018 per year
Primary duties: Criminal investigators are professionals who protect and analyse crime scenes in various criminal and civil cases. Their duties can include collecting evidence for forensic investigators. They may work with counterterrorism officials from government authorities to determine the group, cell or individual responsible for attacks.
To do this, criminal investigators may investigate key locations such as home addresses of people of interest to help them determine which cell or group is responsible for the attack. This helps them gather evidence used for prosecution against the individual or group responsible for the attack.
All professionals who work in counterterrorism use a variety of industry-specific hard skills and general employability soft skills to prevent acts of terrorism. Depending on the specific career, the number of skills these professionals use can vary. Here are some examples of skills you may use as a counterterrorism professional:
Communication: to collect and share information
Creativity: to carefully analyse and develop solutions to prevent attacks
Analysis: to identify and analyse existing evidence to thoroughly assess risks
Composure: allows professionals to work calmly and effectively under pressure
Research skills: to assess data from intercepted communications
Collaboration skills: to work effectively with other professionals in the same industry
Data presentation: to present data in different forms, such as charts and diagrams, to share with authorities
Linguistic skills: allows professionals to communicate with authorities and people of interest from different countries
Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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