How to Get a Job in Counterterrorism


counterterrorism expert
In these times of international unrest, America needs counterterrorism experts who have the knowledge, skills, and tenacity to defend and protect, both here and abroad. Would you like to be part of this critical industry? Get the right education, develop your skills, and follow your passion.

Are You a Fit to a Counterterrorism Career?

Before you find a job or pursue a degree in counterterrorism, ask yourself if you have what it takes. The counterterrorism field can be exciting and rewarding, but also stressful and demanding. Some of the skills you need include:

  • Patience
  • Attention to Detail
  • Organization
  • Technology
  • Critical Thinking
  • Interpersonal
  • Thoroughness 
  • Data Analysis
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making

Unlike crime show depictions of antiterrorism efforts that involve military moves, much of your job will be to gather, maintain, and analyze data. Technology is used extensively in counterterrorism to find evidence, develop action plans, prevent attacks, or figure out how one occurred.

Earn Your Counterterrorism Degree

Most counterterrorism professionals have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Intelligence Management, Criminal Justice, Computer Science, Information Technology, or a related field. A Master’s degree in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies will help you develop high level skills and open the doors to leadership opportunities.

Among the topics you can expect to cover in pursuit of your degree are:

  • Critical Thinking and Logic
  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Threat Assessment
  • Terrorist Techniques
  • Religious Extremism
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Weaponry
  • Critical Infrastructure Analysis
  • Ethics of Security and Counterterrorism
  • Security Management
  • Financial Crimes Analysis

Pass a Background Check to Work in Counterterrorism

To work in counterterrorism, you will need to pass a background check. This can include research on any criminal convictions, your credit score, and references from past employers. If required, you can also apply for a National Security Clearance that will involve more extensive research into your background that could include interviews with family members, previous travel outside the U.S., and viewing your bank accounts.

Gain Experience for a Role in Counterterrorism

Whether it’s through an internship, a job shadow, or part-time security work, the more experience you can gain in a related field, the better positioned you will be to find a counterterrorism job. Do you have miliary experience? Make sure to highlight it on your resume. Look for any work that might serve as a steppingstone.

Review Counterterrorism Job Openings

Look at job listings on sites like and to see the types of jobs you might be interested in and the qualifications the employer is looking for. Some positions you might consider include:

  • Counterterrorism Analyst
  • Antiterrorism Specialist
  • Counterterrorism Operations Specialist
  • Counterterrorism Intelligence Incident Analyst
  • Countering Violent Extremism Coordinator
  • Security Analyst
  • Counterterrorism Watchlist Analyst
  • Domestic Counterterrorism Strategy and Policy Analyst
  • Biometric and Criminal History Trainer
  • Environment Threat Analyst

Prepare Your Counterterrorism Resume

Once you have the education and some experience, build your resume using keywords directly from the job posting you intend to apply to. Especially for tech-heavy industries like counterterrorism, your resume will likely be viewed by a computer before a human so make sure you get past that first hurdle. List your education, skills, and experience, and be sure to include a cover letter. You’ll also want to have letters of recommendation available for when you’re asked to provide them.

Apply for Counterterrorism Jobs

Online job boards are certainly a good place to start the job search, but be creative. Find a company or government agency where you’d like to work and visit their websites. Are they hiring? Do you know anyone who already works there? Reach out and connect. Visit LinkedIn and explore their job listings and see where you might find a connection. And be patient, the application and interview process can take time, but it will be worth it when you land the job!

At National American University, we offer online Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies, as well as two levels of certificates, that will help prepare you for a rewarding career. Do you already have military training or some experience in a business, criminal justice or information technology field? You may be able to transfer those credits to your degree program so you can save time and money. Call 800-209-0182 to learn more.


Online programs for maximum flexibility
NAU students receiving transfer or experiential learning credit
Relevant degree and certificate programs
Years of online educational excellence