-The United States Secret Service is an elite law enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security. As you might expect, the agency has high standards for those wishing to work in roles such as Special Agent and Uniformed Officer. The Secret Service also hires skilled workers for its administrative, professional and technical roles that support the agency’s protective and investigative missions. To qualify to work for the Secret Service, you must make sure you meet the basic eligibility requirements for employment and complete college-level studies in a major related to the agency’s law enforcement efforts or a relevant professional or technical discipline. Cultivating valuable experience can also help you develop the kind of profile the Secret Service is looking for in job applicants.
General Employment Requirements for the Secret Service
If you want to work for the Secret Service, your first step should be to make sure you meet all of the basic eligibility requirements. Otherwise, you may need to take steps to meet those requirements or, if you’re ineligible due to factors outside your control, pivot your career plans to a more realistic path.
Generally, all roles in the Secret Service require candidates to be a citizen of the United States. You must be able to pass a thorough background check and a drug screening test and be qualified to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. Candidates who are required to register for the Selective Service draft system must certify that they have complied with this requirement. You may not have any tattoos, body art or other markings visible on your face, head, neck, fingers or hand.
Applicants for Special Agent and Uniformed Officer roles must meet additional requirements that may not apply to administrative, professional and technical positions. They must pass medical screenings and a test of their physical abilities and possess adequate uncorrected vision. Minimum and maximum age requirements also apply.
Like police officer jobs, Secret Service Special Agent and Uniformed Officer roles have a demanding physical component. Candidates who are not able to pass the medical examination, physical abilities test or vision requirement may qualify for professional roles.
Educational Profile of Secret Service Employees
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If you want to work for the Secret Service, you should go to college. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum level of education needed to qualify for the GL-07 level, a pay grade level specific to federal government law enforcement roles and the lowest grade considered for Special Agent employment. While administrative, professional and technical roles aren’t required to meet specific GL levels, they typically require a formal education – often, an advanced education – in the subject area.
Some of the most relevant degrees for federal jobs in law enforcement include criminal justice, public safety and law enforcement. These programs equip students with knowledge of the workings of law enforcement and criminal justice systems work in the United States and how to handle crisis situations that threaten the public. You might also choose a more specialized law enforcement degree program, such as intelligence and national security. Students of a Homeland Security and Emergency Management program learn the foundations of national security law and policy, intelligence and counterintelligence practices and terrorism studies.
The work of professional, technical and administrative personnel in the Secret Service is more varied. For these positions, you may benefit from pursuing a degree in a subject like engineering, law, biology, chemistry, information technology, procurement or supply chain management, accounting or any number of other fields. If you want to work in the Secret Service’s forensic laboratory in a position like fingerprint specialist, forensics photographer or document analyst, studies in forensic science or crime scene investigation could be an asset.
To join the Secret Service, you must excel in your academic performance. In addition to meeting a minimum grade point average requirement, candidates for Secret Service Special Agent roles must have graduated in the top third of their class.
Experience Expectations to Work for the Secret Service
Do you need years of work experience before you can join the Secret Service? Although some positions may seek candidates with extensive experience in the field (or the lab), the Secret Service also hires some candidates with little professional experience through its student programs.
The most valuable types of experience for aspiring Secret Service employees, particularly in the roles of Special Agent and Uniformed Officer, are law enforcement and military experience. In professional and technical job roles with the Secret Service, you may need a history of more extensive or more specialized work experience to meet the needs of these unique opportunities.
New applicants for Special Agent and Uniformed Officer jobs with the Secret Service must be between ages 21 and 37, or 40 for candidates claiming veterans’ preference, so they aren’t expected to have decades of work experience.