How Do You Become a Secret Service Agent?

Anyone who wants to become a secret service agent must meet strict hiring requirements for law enforcement and qualify for the federal employment level GL-7. The path to becoming a secret service agent is intense, challenging and highly competitive, according to the Secret Service.

Secret Service Agents

Secret service agents are tasked with protecting the president, vice president, their spouses and immediate families. They also protect former presidents, their spouses and their children until they turn 16. Secret service agents protect visiting leaders of foreign states, foreign government officials, distinguished foreign visitors and official federal representatives going abroad on special missions. They project presidential and vice presidential candidates and their spouses during the 120 election days. Secret service agents may also participate in special national security events.

Secret service agents are tasked with investigating threats against assigned clients and financial crimes. This includes theft, forgery and counterfeiting of U.S. currency, checks, bonds and securities. It also includes computer, identify, credit card and telecommunications fraud. They investigate fraudulent ID documents, commerce activities and foreign securities related to financial crimes. Section 3056 of the U.S. Code legally empowers secret service agents to carry firearms, execute issued warrants and arrest suspects for any felony or misdemeanor offense committed in their presence.

Know the Prerequisites

Secret service agents must have excellent school grades and clean criminal records. Any criminal activity will result in automatic disqualification. In order to apply for the Secret Service, candidates must be an American citizen between the ages of 21 to 37. They must have uncorrected eyesight of at least 20/60. Those who use corrective lenses or contacts must have 20/20 vision. Secret service agent candidates must have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record.

They must be physically fit because they must pass an exam that is similar to military and law enforcement physical aptitude tests. Candidates without a formal education may qualify if they have three years of specialized experience and training. This generally only applies to former military and law enforcement personnel who have experience interviewing people, conducting surveillance, carrying out investigations and organizing evidence.

Get a Degree

The GL-7 hiring level requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with top-level academic achievements. This means that they must graduate in the top-third of their class or possess at 3.5 GPA in courses related to their major and a 3.0 in non-related classes. Candidates who cannot meet these stringent academic requirements may qualify of the have at one full year of graduate-level studies through an accredited university. Most candidates will have a bachelor’s degree related to criminology, criminal justice or law enforcement.

The most common degree, criminal justice, will teach students about the policies and practices of the criminal justice system. Students will learn about court processes, federal laws and correction systems. Students will develop the research, analytical and performance skills required for law enforcement and professional security careers. These degree programs are usually taught by professors who have legitimate policy, leadership and law enforcement experience.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Private Investigator?

Anyone who wants to become a secret service agency should be aware that many online colleges now offer bachelors degree in criminal justice that specialize in law enforcement. This degree is perfect for future secret service agents because they will understand the essential similarities and differences between law enforcement agencies and government departments.