Secret Service Special Agent
For many in the criminal justice field, a career as a Secret Service Special Agent is the ultimate goal. Secret Service agents are some of the most elite and prestigious criminal justice professionals in the entire United States. It may sound like a fantasy to most people, but it’s an admirable goal to have. Fortunately, for those who don’t achieve this goal, there are several other careers in personal protection one can pursue. Bodyguards for executives and high profile individuals are needed, as well as security guards for special events.
Secret Service Job Description
In the case of the Secret Service, they have a significant number of duties under their umbrella of responsibilities. Agents may be assigned to protect the president and his family, former presidents and families, foreign dignitaries and heads of state, and presidential candidates. In addition, agents may investigate high-level crimes, like financial fraud and hacking of United States governmental websites.
There are two main types of Secret Service agents: investigation detail or protection detail. The duties and roles assigned to each type of secret service agent are detailed on the official Secret Service website. All agents must work in investigation detail for at least two years before applying for a protection detail position. While working in investigation, you may look into a variety of serious crimes. Common crimes addressed by the Secret Service include counterfeiting, financial institution fraud, communication fraud, and money laundering. Agents may be expected to go undercover to uncover suspects and collect evidence.
It’s clear that SS special agents are some of the most highly-trusted government employees in the country. As a result, the hiring process is extremely thorough and stringent. Only a small handful of those who apply to become special agents ever reach that title. Not only must you meet specific educational requirements, you must also be capable of attaining a high-level security status, passing a set of background and polygraph checks, and have near-perfect vision.
Generally speaking, the Secret Service has more demanding educational requirements than many other criminal justice jobs. At minimum, you need a bachelor’s degree. Ideally, this degree should be in criminal justice or a related field. This is a career that you should begin preparing for years in advance.
How to Become a Secret Service Agent
The United States Secret Service offers a thorough list of requirements that must be met by all prospective Secret Service agents. You must have graduated from an accredited educational institution with a bachelor’s degree. The Secret Service requires applicants to have graduated with superior academic achievement. This is defined in several ways. You can either be in the top third of your graduating class, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, or be part of a national scholastic honor society. To have the knowledge and background needed in this field, you may wish to study criminal justice. However, you may also study finance, law, or foreign language.
While a master’s degree is not required for consideration as a Secret Service agent, this higher level of education can make you a more attractive candidate, particularly when you are being compared to a whole group of applicants. You may wish to pursue a master’s degree in a field related to criminal justice to prepare for this job.
There are many other requirements that must be met before you can even be considered for a Special Agent job. Since you need a special security clearance, you must go through a polygraph examination, a drug screening, and an in-depth background check. Anything that raises any red flags may immediately disqualify you from selection. In addition, you must pass the Secret Service Agent Examination. Once you pass this exam and get selected as a Special Agent Trainee, you must complete your education. The first step is a 10-week Basic Criminal Investigator Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Then, you must attend the Special Agent Basic Training Program at the James J. Rowley Training Center. These programs include firearm safety training, since you may be expected to carry a firearm for the duration of your career.
Secret Service Salary and Career Outlook
Though the government relies heavily on its Secret Service agents, it’s important to note that the Secret Service does not hire everyone who applies or even everyone who is qualified. As a result, it’s important to prepare as much as possible for this career. Your education, job, and lifestyle choices should all reflect what is needed for the Secret Service.
Salaries for Secret Service agents fall under the General Level pay scale set by the government. Most agents start at the GL-07 or GL-09 levels, with starting base salaries ranging from about $40,000-$50,000 per year. On top of the base pay, agent’s salaries are adjusted based on location, education, and experience when they enter the field.
Your starting salary depends on where you are assigned and the cost of living in that area. Your locality pay may be increased by 25%–this is called the Law Enforcement Availability Pay, and agents receive it because they may often have to work long hours or irregular shifts. On average, the Secret Service notes that agents work an average of 50 hours per week.
If you decide to become a Secret Service Special Agent, it’s important to realize how crucial your job is to national security. In April of 2018, Secret Service agents had to arrest a man with a gun at a foreign consulate office in Washington, D.C. Special Agents improve the safety and security that all Americans enjoy.
Contact the schools in our directory to learn more about their criminal justice programs that can help you prepare for Secret Service or bodyguard related careers!