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Secret Service Agent

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Career Overview

They say that secret service agents must be ready to take a bullet for the president, but it isn't quite as dramatic as that expression might lead you to believe. Though it is an actual requirement, secret service agents are more commonly tasked with security detail and fraud investigations.The United States Secret Service is a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, and one of the oldest and most distinguished law enforcement agencies in the country. It's most commonly known for the protection aspect of the job, since its agents provide security detail for the president and vice president.As a secret service agent, you'll also be responsible for protecting other high-level political figures, including former presidents, visiting foreign officials, and their families. Though protection is a large and important part of the job, you'll also be responsible for investigating high level cases of fraud and counterfeiting. Over the years, these investigative responsibilities have grown quite a bit, and now include financial institution fraud, cyber crimes, government and commercial securities fraud, and more.Your career will likely be a balance of both of these responsibilities from anywhere in the world. You might be in the United States one day and the Middle East the next. The job can be stressful and demanding, but it's a very important and honorable job that a select few are capable of doing. Let's just hope that you have what it takes to join those elite ranks.

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
National
$39,550
3,408,680
4.5 %
California
$47,250
379,830
 

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Homeland Security, or related fields Secret Service Training

Education requirements vary between each position, but most require at least a bachelor's degree. If you qualify and become selected for service, you'll start a 12-week training program at the Georgia Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The program includes typical law enforcement courses in firearms, psychology, first aid, and more, but there will also be specific secret service training as well. The training is rigorous, and you'll need to be in top physical shape in order to make it through. As if the actual training sessions weren't hard enough, you'll also have to pass a series of assessments and fitness tests while you're there. Once you've completed your training, you'll be permitted to work for the United States Secret Service.

 
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Valued Traits & Abilities

Communication Skills
Teamwork Skills
Decision-Making Skills
Proactiveness
Detail Oriented.

Work Environment

Being a secret service agent means having little room for much else in your life. With such an important role to play, the job can be incredibly demanding and require many personal sacrifices. You'll be working long hours and must always be on call, even on weekends and holidays. You'll also be traveling constantly, and you must be ready to pack up and relocate to a different part of the world at a moment's notice.In addition, the job can also become incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. You'll be responsible for protecting many important, high-level political figures. If there is an attack or an attempt on their life, there is a chance you could get caught in the crossfire. In that situation, you are expected to put their life before your own and protect them at all costs. Though these security breaches happen less commonly than you might think, just keep in mind that you must keep your guard up at all times and be ready for absolutely anything.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013