Uniformed Secret Service Officer Career Profile

guard with earpiece at public speech
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It's common knowledge that the United States Secret Service is responsible for protecting presidents, high-ranking government officials, and foreign diplomats and dignitaries. Most people are also aware that secret service agents investigate counterfeiting and financial fraud, as well. In fact, prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the secret service fell under the control of the U.S. Treasury Department.

What is perhaps less well-known is that, in addition to special agents, the United States Secret Service employs a full-time uninformed law enforcement division. This group is tasked with assisting in carrying out the agency's mission and providing a visible police presence at major functions and important locations.

What Secret Service Officers Do

Members of the U.S. Secret Service uniformed division are responsible for providing security and protective services at the White House and complex grounds, the vice president's residence at the United States Naval Observatory, and the Treasury Building.

In addition to securing the presidential complexes, officers provide protection at foreign embassies and diplomatic missions around Washington, D.C. They also travel with the president and vice president and assist special agents in the handling of dignitary protective services. The job of a uniformed secret service officer often includes:

  • Shift work, including night and weekend hours
  • Conducting foot patrols
  • Conducting street patrols
  • Watching for and identifying threats
  • Enforcing federal laws pertaining to security and protection
  • Making arrests
  • Standing guard and manning checkpoints

Secret service officers work primarily in Washington, D.C. They work in shifts to ensure maximum protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They must also be ready and willing to travel on short notice and work in undesirable conditions at times.

There a several special areas officers can work their way into, including snipers, situational response and SWAT, and police K-9 function. The uniformed division provides the show of force necessary to help dissuade attempts on the lives of the people they protect. They not only serve their charges but the tourists and visitors to the nation's capital, as well.

Education and Skills Requirements

A college degree is not required to work as a uniformed officer in the secret service, though there are plenty of benefits to getting a college education in criminal justice employment. If nothing else, a degree can be helpful for future career changes or promotions.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens. They must be older than 21 and younger than 40 at the time of appointment to the job. They must have a valid driver license and no worse than 20/60 vision, corrected to 20/20, in either eye. 

Candidates also need to be able to qualify for top secret clearance. This will require an extensive background investigation and include a polygraph exam. Male candidates must be able to show proof of registration with or exemption from the selective service.

All candidates must take and pass the federal Police Officer Selection Test (POST) and must be physically fit to perform the strenuous duties that often accompany work in law enforcement. A medical exam by a government doctor will also be required.

Upon appointment, new officers will attend a 12-week course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia as well as a 13-week specialized training program near Washington, D.C.

The Salary of Uniformed Secret Service Officers

There will always be a need for protective services, and the secret service continues to hire uniformed officers. Testing is conducted monthly in Washington, D.C. And periodically at field offices throughout the United States. Newly appointed secret service officers earn over $52,000 annually.

Considering a Job as a Uniformed Secret Service Officer

Uniformed secret service officers serve a vital role in the security of the United States. Working as a uniformed officer provides great benefits and a good salary, especially for those just starting out in law enforcement. It can also provide the experience required to begin a career as a special agent. The secret service holds the potential for a very fascinating and rewarding career.