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Special Agent

The United States Secret Service is mandated by statute and executive order to carry out two significant missions: protection and criminal investigations. During the course of their careers, special agents carry out assignments in both of these areas and must be available to be assigned to duty stations anywhere in the world.

The Secret Service protects:

  • The president, the vice president (or other individuals next in order of succession to the Office of the President), the president-elect and vice president-elect
  • The immediate families of the above individuals
  • Former presidents, their spouses for their lifetimes, except when the spouse remarries. In 1997, Congressional legislation became effective limiting Secret Service protection to former presidents for a period of not more than 10 years from the date the former president leaves office
  • Children of former presidents until age 16
  • Visiting heads of foreign states or governments and their spouses traveling with them, other distinguished foreign visitors to the United States, and official representatives of the United States performing special missions abroad
  • Major presidential and vice presidential candidates, and their spouses within 120 days of a general presidential election
  • Other individuals as designated per Executive Order of the President
  • National Special Security Events, when designated as such by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

The Secret Service investigates:

  • Violations of laws relating to counterfeiting of obligations and securities of the United States
  • Financial crimes that include, but are not limited to, financial institution fraud, false identification documents, access device fraud, advance fee fraud, computer and telecommunications fraud, electronic funds transfers and money laundering as it relates to the agency's core violations
  • Computer-based attacks on the nation's financial, banking and telecommunications infrastructure
Foreign Language Proficiency

A one time recruitment bonus, 25 percent of basic annual pay, will be paid to newly hired special agents, who are identified as having a foreign language skill and can test at the S-3 level.

This level requires that the applicant be able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social and professional topics.

The recruitment bonus must be approved prior to the applicant's first day of employment and will be paid as a lump sum, upon successful completion of all required training and graduation from the U.S. Secret Service training program. The actual payment will depend on the availability of funds.

The Secret Service also has a Foreign Language Cash Award Program. This program pays a cash award of up to 5 percent of basic pay to any individual who possesses and makes substantial use of one or more foreign languages in the performance of official duties.

Newly hired special agents may be initially assigned, and reassigned during their career, to offices where a language skill best serves the needs of the Secret Service.

Steps to Becoming a Special Agent

Requirements and Qualifications

To be CONSIDERED you must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be between the ages of 21 and less than 37 at the time of appointment
  • Possess a current valid driver's license
  • Possess visual acuity no worse than 20/60 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 in each eye
  • Note: Lasik, ALK, RK and PRK are acceptable corrective eye surgeries for special agent applicants. Applicants will be considered eligible for the special agent position provided specific visual tests are passed three months after Lasik surgery and six months after all other surgeries.

To qualify at the GL-7 level you must:

  • Possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with superior academic achievement.
  • Superior academic achievement is defined as meeting at least one of the following requirements:
  • Being in the upper third of your graduating class
  • Having a grade point average of 3.0 or higher out of a possible 4.0, based on four years of undergraduate education or based on courses completed during the final two years of curriculum
  • Having a grade point average of 3.5 or higher out of a possible 4.0, based on required courses completed in your major or required courses in your major completed during the final two years of curriculum
  • Being a member of a national scholastic honor society that meets the requirements of the Association of College Honor Societies


  • Possess at least one full year of graduate level education (i.e. 18 semester hours).

  • OR

  • Possess at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GL-5 level which is in or directly related to the line of work of the position.

    Specialized experience is defined as assisting in:
    • Carrying out investigations of alleged or suspected violations of the law
    • Conducting surveillance and undercover activities or operations
    • Apprehending and arresting persons suspected of violations
    • Organizing evidence for presentation to prosecution officials

    To qualify at the GL-9 level you must:

  • Possess a master's or equivalent graduate degree (such as LL.B. or J.D.) from an accredited college or university

  • OR

  • Possess at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GL-7 level, which is in or directly related to the line of work of the position.

    Specialized experience is defined as independently:
    • Carrying out limited investigations of alleged or suspected violations of the law
    • Conducting surveillance and undercover activities or operations, raids and/or seizures
    • Apprehending, arresting, interviewing, and interrogating persons suspected of violations of the law
    • Organizing evidence for presentation to prosecution officials
    Maximum Entry Age Restriction

    On August 26, 2009, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a memorandum for all Heads of Departments and Executive Agencies related to hiring of preference eligible veterans applying for federal positions with maximum entry-age restrictions.

    As directed by OPM, the U.S. Secret Service will conduct an analysis of all Secret Service positions having maximum entry age restrictions to determine whether a maximum entry age requirement is essential to the performance of the position. Applicants eligible for veterans' preference who exceed the current maximum entry age requirement will continue to be processed during this ongoing analysis. No final determination regarding affected applicants will be made until completion of this analysis. If it is the determination of the U.S. Secret Service that the requirement is not essential to the position, then the Agency will waive the maximum entry-age requirement for veteran's preference eligible applicants for that position.

    Proper notification to all affected parties will be published when the analysis has been completed.

    Selective Service

    As a condition of employment, male applicants born after December 31, 1959, must certify that they have registered with the Selective Service System, or are exempt from having to do so under Selective Service law.

    Physical Fitness Evaluation

    Applicants must pass a medical examination by an authorized government physician, which includes vision, hearing, cardiovascular and mobility of extremities. In addition, applicants must be determined physically fit by an authorized government physician to perform strenuous and physically demanding duties.

    Treasury Enforcement Agent (TEA) Test

    Applicants must pass the Treasury Enforcement Agent examination and a report writing test.

    If you have previously taken the Treasury Enforcement Agent exam (TEA) with another agency, you may submit a copy of your results to the Secret Service at the time of application along with the rest of your supplemental documentation. Determination will be made as to whether the rating score is valid and up to date.


    Applicants must pass a series of in-depth interviews.

    Top Secret Clearance

    Applicants must be able to obtain a Top Secret clearance. Applicants must pass a pre-employment polygraph examination, drug screening and extensive background investigation. Completion of a full investigation is required before appointment. Follow this link to learn more about the background investigation.


    Initial appointment to the special agent position is normally made in the excepted service.

    Pay and Work Schedule

    Special agents are generally hired at the GL-7 or GL-9 grade levels depending on qualifications and education. Based on those grade levels and the assigned geographic area, the 2010 starting salary range is $43,964 - $74,891.

    An additional 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) will be added to locality pay. While assigned to field offices special agents are normally assigned to work a 40-hour (normal business) workweek (e.g., 9:00 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday. Due to the receipt of LEAP, special agents usually work an average of two additional hours per day. During certain assignment the hours worked by special agents will vary depending on the nature of these assignments, which include, but are not limited to, conducting criminal investigative and protective assignments and/or being assigned to a protective detail. Special agents are required to work hours other than normal business hours (e.g., 12 a.m.-8 a.m., 4 p.m.-12 a.m., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 6 a.m.-2 p.m., 2 p.m.-10 p.m., etc.) with the addition to 2 or more LEAP hours, on a daily basis.


    Special agent trainees must successfully complete the 10 week Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's (FLETC) Basic Criminal Investigator Training program in Glynco, Georgia, and the 17-week Special Agent Basic Training program at the James J. Rowley Training Center outside Washington, D.C. Failure to pass either training program on the first attempt will result in separation from the United States Secret Service.

    Firearm Proficiency

    Newly appointed special agents, upon completion of training, are required to carry a firearm for the performance of their duties. Special agents will be required to maintain firearms proficiency.

    Travel and Relocation

    Newly appointed special agents may be assigned to duty stations anywhere in the United States. Throughout their careers, agents may experience frequent travel and reassignments to Secret Service offices located throughout the United States or liaison assignments in foreign countries. Candidates must sign a mobility agreement stating their willingness to accept assignments anywhere within the United States and overseas.

    Conditions of Employment

    Special agents will be required to carry out assignments in the areas of protection and investigations; work long hours in undesirable conditions on short notice; travel away from home for periods ranging from one to 30 days or longer. Additionally, special agents may be requested to work undercover assignments.

    The special agent position is designated as a key position in accordance with Department of Defense Directive 1200.7.

    Federal employees are eligible to participate in the following benefits programs. More information about the benefits may be found by clicking on each program:
    For More Information

    If you have questions, please contact the Secret Service Recruitment Program at 202-406-5830, or TTY 202-406-5390.

    How to Apply
    To view and apply for our vacancies please follow this link.

    You may also call 888-813-8777 for a listing of our current vacancies.

    An Equal Opportunity Employer

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