The answer to the captioned question could be put in one word: “No.” However, that would drastically undermine the response to the query. Readers are probably looking for more details than a single word retort. The question posed above creates more inquisitions, such as where do Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees work if not in D.C.? We will provide answers to this question and others in this article.

What is the DHS?

President George W. Bush established the Office of Homeland Security in response to the tragic attacks of 9/11 in New York City. Its primary purpose was to detect, prevent, protect, and respond to terrorist attacks on American soil. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 resulted in the DHS as a federal cabinet agency. The Act resulted in the consolidation of 22 federal agencies into the new (DHS) department. The agencies with the most employees are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (62,400), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA – 11,300), U.S. Coast Guard (56,570), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA – 54,200). The bracketed number represents the most recent employee figures.

One entity omitted from the previous paragraph is the DHS, which oversees all agencies tasked with the protection of the United States. Approximately 240,000 employees occupy various positions in the agencies above and more. Some of the other agencies include the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications and the Office of Operations Coordination. Therefore, you may work for the DHS in any of their agencies or offices scattered across the nation. Several agencies have their headquarters in Washington, D.C.; however, not all have jobs there.

DHS smployees

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has over 20,000 agents and support staff who enforce over 400 laws. Some of the violations are drug smuggling, arms and human trafficking, art theft, counterfeit documents and currency, and mass-marketing fraud. ICE, in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), works from 400 offices in the USA and 46 countries. Its headquarters are in Washington.

The Coast Guard has 40,492 active duty employees, 7,000 reservists, and 8,577 full-time civilian personnel. Their main office is in the new DHS Headquarters Building in Washington. With a fleet of 243 ocean-going ships and 1,650 smaller craft, and 201 helicopters, there are numerous opportunities to work outside the nation’s capital.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has more than 21,000 officers who inspect passengers and cargo at 328 ports of entry. Over 21,370 agents protect 1,900 miles of border with Mexico and 5,000 miles of the Canadian border. Approximately 2,500 employees are in revenue positions with the CBP. They have collected over $30 billion annually in entry duties and taxes through the enforcement of trade and tariff laws. You may also find work in the nation’s largest canine law enforcement agency, responsible for 73 commercial ports and 74 Border Patrol Stations.

Because of the myriad of possible jobs within the DHS and associated offices and agencies, you have a better chance of working outside the confines of Washington, D.C.

What about the DHS?

The Department is relatively small compared to other agencies under its leadership and direction. St. Elizabeths West Campus in Washington, D.C. is home for the 3,261 employees (2018 data). This figure represents about 1.4% of the total employees working in the different agencies, under the scrutiny of the DHS.

The DHS committed in March 2007 to spend approximately $4.1 billion on a new location that would incorporate 60 or more agencies at St. Elizabeths. The Coast Guard was the first to move into the new 4,500,000-square-foot West Campus site in July 2013.

Jobs within headquarters have an average salary of $119,755, according to The titles of General Attorney, Medical Officer, Program Management, Administration, and Information Technology Management garner the highest wage. The top 100 positions earn over $173,768 per year (2018 data). These incomes, as with all federal employees, adhere to the General Schedule (G.S.) according to performance and seniority. Further details are available at the link mentioned above.


With almost a quarter of a million employed in various capacities with the DHS agencies, there are ample jobs for all education levels, experience, career aspirations, and locale. For example, working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection could be in northern Maine along the Canada border. On the other hand, you could be positioned at the Rio Grande City Station (Texas) – along 68 miles of the international border.

Additional Resources

What Kind of Profile Does the Secret Service Look for in Applicants?

Are There Requirements to Be an Agent for Homeland Security?

What is Involved in the Background Check to Join the DHS?

What are the Benefits of pursuing a Degree in Law Enforcement?

What Government Jobs are there with a Criminal Justice Degree?

What are the fastest Schools for a Master’s Degree in Criminology?

What is a good subject to double major or minor with Homeland Security?

Is it easier to get a job with the Department of Justice if I go to school in or around D.C.?