USSS Criminal Investigator Description
The Secret Service offers a range of challenging but rewarding employment opportunities.
Special agents carry out the Secret Service's investigative and protective missions.
Uniformed Division officers serve an important role in protecting national leaders, other dignitaries and landmarks.
Special officers provide technical and support skills to the agency’s protective mission.
Secret Service Special Agents
Secret Service special agents can count on having challenging, diversified work. Over their careers, special agents will undertake both investigative and protective assignments. Their assignments are likely to take them to varied locations, and can mean travel, sometimes on short notice, to nearly any part of the globe.
Frequent relocation, shift work and long hours can be a part of a special agent’s job, along with carrying a firearm and periodically being tested on marksmanship, physical fitness and drug screening, and required to take a variety of training courses.
On international assignments, Secret Service special agents often act as liaison to foreign law enforcement agencies. Foreign language proficiency is usually required for these positions; language training is available, and foreign language skills generally bring a hiring bonus and pay increases.
Typically, a Secret Service agent has a three-stage career. New special agents are assigned to field work for the first six to eight years on the job, then move to a protective detail for another four to seven years. After that, agents may return to the field, or transfer to a headquarters, training or other assignment in the Washington area.
Uniformed Division Officers
The Secret Service’s Uniformed Division is a specialized police force that safeguards the White House (including part of the adjacent Treasury Department) and its grounds, residents, employees and visitors; the vice-president’s official residence; and foreign diplomatic missions in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
The agency notes that Uniform Division officers may be required to travel away from their home office for extended periods and work long hours, sometimes on short notice or in undesirable conditions.
Reflecting its varied responsibilities, the Secret Service’s Uniformed Division has a total of more than 1,300 officers, in three branches: White House; Foreign Missions; and the Naval Observatory (site of the vice-president’s residence). Officers in the Uniformed Division maintain a network of fixed security posts, as well as patrols by vehicle, and on foot, bicycle, and motorcycle.
In 1930, the agency took control of the White House Police Service, begun in 1922. As part of the agency’s Uniformed Division, the branch is charged with protecting residents, employees and visitors to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as adjacent portions of the Treasury Department.
The Secret Service’s Uniformed Division in 1970 received responsibility for protecting foreign diplomatic missions in the Washington area. Then known as the Executive Protective Service, these personnel were re-designated as part of the Uniformed Division in 1977.
Due to its diverse duties, the Uniformed Division carries out its protective responsibilities with the help of numerous special support units. Among these are:
- the Countersniper Team (which uses high-performance weapons and sighting equipment to provide security to protectees);
- the Canine Explosive Detection Team (which carries out security sweeps, responds to bomb threats and examines suspicious packages);
- the Emergency Response Team (responsible for coordinated tactical response to intrusions or other threats to the White House and other Secret Service-protected facilities);
- the Crime Scene Search Unit (which photographs, collects and processes physical and latent evidence);
- the Motorcade Support Unit (a motorcycle unit providing tactical support to motorcade movements);
- the Magnetometers Unit (which screens visitors to the White House, other protected facilities and at Special Events); and
- the Office of Human Resources and Training, which carries out recruitment and provides classroom and firearms training.
Special officers help carry out the Secret Service’s protective mission by performing a wide range of security functions and technical support assignments. These include maintaining protective security posts; inspecting the operational, safety, emergency, and convenience equipment of protective vehicles; driving protective or support vehicles; controlling access to Secret Service facilities and related areas; monitoring and operating various communications equipment; and employing various advanced x-ray screening technologies,
Depending on their experience and education, special agents are hired at the GL-7 or GL-9 rate schedules for law enforcement officers (which for 2014 range from $38,895 to $55,969), depending on individual qualifications and education. Special agent pay is capped at the GS-13 level (which presently ranges between $72,391 and $94,108), although special agents may compete for promotions to higher-paid positions.
Within the GL-7 pay grade, annual increases are currently $1,144; for the GL-9 pay grade, annual increases are $1,399. In addition, the Secret Service may provide rewards for superior performance or acquired skills. Assignments to high-cost areas may also bring local pay adjustments. Secret Services employees are eligible for Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), a program under which special agents may receive up to an added 25% of their annual base pay.
Newly recruited special agents who demonstrate foreign language proficiency may qualify for a one-time lump-sum bonus of 25% of basic annual pay, if approved before the applicant’s first day of employment, subject to available funds.
Uniformed Division Officers
The salary schedules for Uniformed Division officers and other ranks can be found here. Overtime pay is provided at a time-and-a-half rate, or through compensatory time off.
Depending on individual qualifications, special officers are usually hired at the GL-7 (which runs from $38,895 to $49,191) or GL-8 level ($40,541 to $51,944). Special officer positions are capped at the GL-9 level (which starts at $43,378 and ends at $55,969). Special officers may be eligible to compete for promotion to positions above the GL-9 level.
As federal employment, positions with the Secret Service offer a wide range of federal government benefits. These include:
- Family or individual medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program;
- Eligibility for a tax-favored Flexible Spending Account Program (in which employees pay eligible out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars);
- Low-cost group life insurance in the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI);
- Long-term insurance coverage, in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP)
- Comprehensive retirement plans (credit may be allowed for previous military or government service);
- A thrift savings plan, similar to a 401(k) plan;
- Eligibility for a flexible spending plan (a tax-favored program offered to employees to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars)
- Paid federal holidays;
- Annual leave (between 13 and 26 days, depending on length of service (prior federal civilian or military service may be credited); and
- Sick leave (13 days annually, with no limit of how much can be carried over from year to year).
In addition to the general benefits already outlined, Uniformed Division Officer benefits also include:
- Free uniforms and equipment;
- Reasonable moving expenses paid for out-of-area hires. Generally, unless stated otherwise in a vacancy announcement, relocation expenses for an initial Secret Service appointment will only be reimbursed for current civilian federal government employees who are transferring to the agency. However, reasonable moving expenses are paid, for applicants who accept a Uniformed Division officer position and relocate to the Washington, D.C., area, whether or not they were previously employed by the federal government.