How a Border Security Degree Can Advance Your Career

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Few questions have become more pressing in recent years than those concerning national borders. As refugees flee war and climate change and other immigrants seek opportunities in prosperous countries like Canada and the United States, fears of terrorism and increased competition for scarce jobs have created deep divisions in Western societies.

More than ever, those working in border security must understand the rules, risks and opportunities concerning immigration, public safety and international transit.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s online Master of Public Safety degree program offers an optional specialization in Border Strategies, which can also be completed independently as a graduate diploma.

What is a Border Security Degree?

Graduate degrees are becoming the preferred educational credential for those pursuing a leadership position in public safety fields, including border security. In a border security diploma or concentration, students learn about key topics like:

  • customs
  • immigration
  • cross-border law enforcement
  • social justice in a border security context
  • new technologies, systems and services

Understanding the interconnectedness and interdependency of critical infrastructure both within and outside Canada’s borders is key for those who hope to move into a leadership role in public safety. These insights are realized with Laurier’s Master of Public Safety degree. A graduate degree positions you to contribute to the development and implementation of a focused border management agenda. Canada’s safety and economy rely on the smooth flow of legitimate traffic through its land, sea and air borders.

How to Become a Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) Officer

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Public Safety Canada, the government department responsible for overseeing the nation’s emergency preparedness and response, offer most entry-level positions in the border security field.

Canada has more than 1,100 CBSA points of service that require trained border services officers in order to run efficiently. BSO position requirements include a secondary school diploma, driver’s license and a number of firearms safety courses offered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If you possess these requirements, you may apply to the Officer Trainee Development Program at the CBSA College in Rigaud, Quebec.[i]

A BSO’s salary ranges from $64,000 to $71,000 as a trainee and increases to between $69,000 to $82,000 upon completion of training.[ii] Your salary continues to increase as you move up the ranks, 

Advancement in the CBSA

The CBSA has a rank structure similar to those found in other public safety professions such as policing and fire. Senior ranks include: 

  • trainer

  • superintendent and training administrator
  • duty chief
  • chief of operations
  • director
  • regional director general
  • vice-president
  • president (head of the agency)

Most of these positions can only be attained by working up the ranks, and are awarded based on seniority, achievement and credentials. Laurier’s Master of Public Safety program only admits applicants with professional experience in public safety for this reason.

Candidates should have either extensive experience (10+ years) or a combination of experience and education (3+ years and an undergraduate degree). Many students opt for the degree in order to advance within the CBSA or Public Safety Canada. A graduate degree helps potential senior officers distinguish themselves from their peers and enhance their expertise within the field.

Contact us to learn more about Laurier’s Master of Public Safety or Border Strategies Graduate Diploma.