Special agents with the United States Secret Service are hired to protect high profile individuals and their families and to investigate financial cases like fraud and counterfeiting. Agents can be assigned to cases all over the world and are extremely well trained and well educated. The Secret Service protection force is responsible for the safety and protection of the president and vice president and their families, as well as the president-elect and vice president-elect and their families. Former presidents who have left the office within ten years are also protected, as well as young children and the spouses of former presidents, provided they do not remarry. Secret Service agents also monitor special events that the Department of Homeland Security thinks could be a target for attack. In addition to providing protection, Secret Service special agents investigate financial crimes and crimes that involve government service fraud, computer crimes, identity theft, forensic assistance to cases involving missing children or the exploitation of children. Special agents working in protection or investigations need to be prepared to work on high profile cases and in potentially dangerous situations. They need to be vigilant, detail-oriented, organized and effective communicators. Special agents are also armed, so they should feel comfortable carrying and using a gun. Working conditions include long hours and unexpected travel.
Secret Service agents can earn competitive salaries and can start earning at the federal GS-5, GS-7 or GS-9 levels. Currently, those who are proficient in a foreign language can earn an extra one-time recruitment bonus. Benefits include paid holidays, retirement benefits, health insurance, sick leave, and a flexible spending account program.
Special agents working for the U.S. Secret Service need to have a bachelor’s degree or ample work experience. Applying for a Secret Service position is extremely competitive, so earning a higher degree in an area like law enforcement or criminal justice could be extremely helpful in setting yourself a part from other applicants. A higher degree could also make you eligible for entry-level pay at a higher GS level.