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ICE Special Agent

The role of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has increased significantly since the events of 9/11. ICE special agents are also known as ICE criminal investigators. This job requires an intensive understanding of terrorism, the law, and threats to the United States. ICE special agents play a prestigious role in immigration and customs enforcement, so the hiring process is fairly intensive. If you want to work in the area of customs enforcement, contact the schools in our directory to learn how you should proceed with your education.


ICE Special Agent Job Description

As an ICE Special Agent, you may work in a variety of settings and situations. One of your main duties may be the enforcement of immigration laws and regulations, particularly as a new agent. You may work at the border, take in those who are in the country illegally, and even work in deportation.

However, as you move up the ranks, you may move into more criminal investigation activities. Special agents often investigate and collect evidence on crimes that take place in multiple countries and affect American citizens. You may investigate national security threats, illegal arms export, identity fraud, terrorism, and child exploitation. To help keep the country and its people safe, you must be ready to answer the call of duty at any time. Typically ICE Special Agents are on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

An ICE Special Agent may be privy to some of the most technologically advanced investigative tools and techniques in the industry. These techniques and tools may be used to look into a range of serious crimes. Other crimes covered by ICE Special Agents include money laundering, drug smuggling, and human trafficking. You may look into crimes that go beyond the borders of the United States; you may investigate international crime rings and criminal organizations.

There are many ways that you can qualify for a job as an ICE Special Agent. Those who have a bachelor’s degree may be considered highly qualified, so earning a four-year degree may be an excellent way to become adequately prepared for the demands of this job. However, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency notes that you can also qualify for an ICE Special Agent job with military experience, law enforcement experience, leadership experience, or fluency in a foreign language.


How to Become an ICE Special Agent

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is fairly flexible in how special agents enter the field. For many students, the most straightforward to become a special agent is to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Technically, the bachelor’s degree can be in any field or specialty. However, you may have a greater amount of relevant experience and knowledge if you complete your education in criminal justice or another related field. Relevant degree choices include law enforcement, foreign language, and law.

Applicants that do not have a bachelor’s degree may still be qualified for this position if they have other types of experience or skills. ICE notes that applicants with military experience, experience in the field of law enforcement, or leadership experience in a professional environment may be considered highly qualified. Another valuable skill that’s needed by ICE is fluency in a foreign language. They may require you to take a foreign language exam to demonstrate your verbal proficiency and your understanding of the language.

There’s more to the ICE Special Agent application process than your educational and work qualifications. Any criminal history may disqualify you from consideration as an ICE Special Agent. You must pass a firearms exam that proves that you know how to safely use and store firearms. In addition, your agency may subject you to random drug tests and physical examinations to ensure that you can still perform your expected job duties.

Once you make it through the multi-step hiring process, you have to go to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia. The program lasts for 22 weeks and it is a paid training period. It can take some time to get to this point of the process. The hiring process for ICE Special Agents tends to last two to four months, since you must undergo extensive background testing.


ICE Special Agent Salary and Career Outlook

In general, the job outlook for ICE Special Agents is positive. ICE hires agents for 70 offices that are located in 47 countries around the world. Currently, over 20,000 people are employed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The job outlook may be better for those with specialized skills or the freedom to travel, as this job may require agents to travel at a moment’s notice and spend weeks or months away from home.

According to O*Net, special agents earn an average salary of $79,970 per year as of May 2017. It’s important to note that ICE reports that agents earn a base salary plus locality pay. As a result, your specific salary will depend on where you live and what office you are assigned to.

To learn more about working as an ICE special agent, contact the schools below to learn more!