How to Become a Secret Service Agent
As a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Secret Service is tasked with protecting the nation. In particular, secret service agents provide security detail for high-level political officials, like the president and vice president. They are also tasked with the responsibility of investigating currency and documentation fraudulence. They have the power to make arrests and are permitted to carry firearms. The Secret Service also works with other departments as needed to help protect political leaders and investigate offenses. According to the Secret Service website, there are around 3,200 employed Secret Service agents in the U.S.
At a minimum, Secret Service agents must be U.S. citizens. They should be excellent communicators with a strong sense of teamwork. They should also be calm and emotionally stable, as being able to handle stressful situations is an important Secret Service agent skill. Candidates for secret service positions also must have a clean criminal record and possess the ability to pass mental and physical evaluations.
Education & Training
The Secret Service website states that educational requirements vary from position to position. Job prospects are best for those who have at least a bachelor’s degree, especially for prospective agents. The best degrees for secret service agents include criminal justice, criminology, and homeland security degrees. Students should learn how to analyze criminal behavior, how to work on teams, and how to conduct research. Degrees for secret service agents should include classes in English and communications as well.
Once an individual qualifies for Secret Service training, he or she will spend 12 weeks in training at the Georgia Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. During this time, candidates will take classes in firearms, psychology, criminal law, investigations, arrests, and first aid. Specific Secret Service training will be included in the curriculum as well. Trainees must be physically fit, however, as physical fitness and endurance is part of the training program. While enrolled at the facility, students will need to study and pass assessments in various training areas. Only after they’ve met all training requirements will they be permitted to pursue careers as Secret Service agents.
As qualifying for the position includes multiple assessments, including background investigations and interviews, the hiring process can take upwards of many months to complete. Acquiring top secret clearance is a necessary prerequisite for the position, and earning that can lengthen the hiring process even further. Failing to provide all required documents ó like transcripts, references, and relevant records ó can also delay the process.
Agents begin their careers at the GS-07 level, according to the Secret Service website. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management reports that the GS-07 salaries are between $33,979 and $44,176. Of course, salary figures will vary based on experience and education.