The United States Secret Service is responsible for protecting presidents, high-ranking government officials, and foreign diplomats and dignitaries. The Secret Service also employs full-time law enforcement officers for its Uniformed Division. This group is tasked with carrying out the agency's mission and providing a visible police presence at major functions and important locations.
Uniformed Secret Service Officer Duties & Responsibilities
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
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. They not only serve their charges but the tourists and visitors to the nation's capital, as well.
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.
There are several special areas of the Uniformed Division that officers can work their way into, including K-9 units, emergency response teams, counter-sniper teams, crime scene search, and motorcade support.
Uniformed Secret Service Officer Salary
Compensation for uniformed Secret Service officers varies based on rank and number of years in service. As of 2019, it started at $47,785 per year for officers (the lowest rank) with one year or less experience, and it capped at $156,000 for chiefs (the highest rank) with 13 years or more experience.
Compensation for employees in the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service also includes:
- Low-cost federal health benefit and life insurance plans
- Moving expenses for out-of-area hires
- Uniforms and equipment
- Comprehensive retirement benefits
- Generous annual vacation and sick leave
Education, Training, & Certification
Applicants must be U.S. citizens who are 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.
- Education: 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.
- Certification: 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. 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.
- Training: 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.
Uniformed Secret Service Officer Skills & Competencies
To be successful in this role, you’ll generally need the following skills and qualities:
- Physical strength, agility, and stamina: Uniformed Secret Service officers spend the majority of their working hours on their feet and must have the fitness and agility to protect others in a variety of situations.
- Observation skills: A key part of the job is staying alert and detecting possible threats.
- Decision-making skills: They must be able to quickly decide when and how to respond to potentially threatening situations.
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. As of 2019, the Secret Service employed about 1,300 officers in its Uniformed Division.
Uniformed Secret Service officers work primarily in Washington, D.C., and in most cases, they must be willing to relocate there. They must also be ready and willing to travel on short notice and work in undesirable conditions at times. Candidates must be willing to work in high-pressure, high stakes, and potentially dangerous situations.
Uniformed Secret Service officers usually work in shifts to ensure maximum protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They often work long hours—more than the typical eight hours a day. They may have to work overtime hours, but they're compensated with either more time off or overtime pay of one-and-a-half times their regular pay.
How to Get the Job
After applying for a position in the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service, you must successfully complete two phases of the hiring process to be considered for a final job offer.
You can search for and apply to open positions on the federal government's career website, USAJobs.gov.
Phase I: Competency
- Qualifications/resume review
- Written examination
- Physical abilities test
- Conditional job offer
Phase II: Security
- Security interview
- Credit check
- Polygraph examination
- Medical and psychological examination
- Background investigation
- Hiring panel interview
Comparing Similar Jobs
People who are interested in becoming [job name] may also consider other careers with these median salaries:
- Private detectives and investigators: $50,090
- Police and detectives: $63,380
- Correctional officers and bailiffs: $44,400
- Firefighters: $49,620
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018