How to Become a Secret Service Agent: A Career Guide

Secret Service Agent

If you have your sights set on a career with the United States Secret Service, your aspirations put you in rare and elite company. 

There are only about 3,200 special agents in the Secret Service. In addition to the special agents, the Secret Service has about 3,500 officers and other personnel. 

Because these jobs are so selective (And well… secretive) you need to be diligent and informed about what it takes. And we’re happy to fill in those gaps for you. 

Keep reading for more info on how to become a Secret Service Agent. 

Understand What a Secret Service Job Entails

Before anything, you need to understand what it means to join the Secret Service and what job skills are the most useful. The Secret Service is a Federal government agency that handles high-level investigations of criminals and protects the lives and safety of important political figures.

The Secret Service is most known for protecting the president, vice president, and their families. If you’re looking into joining the Secret Service, you’ll need to understand the nature of the job. 

Secret Service agents must:

  • Be detail-oriented and a good communicator
  • Trained in issues like weapons use and tactical strategies
  • Pick up and go when called upon
  • Be reliable and of good integrity and moral character
  • Have sharp investigating skills

Secret Service jobs might require you to travel and spend time in potentially dangerous environments. Learn as much as you can about the career path so that you know what you’re walking into. 

How to Join the Secret Service

Now that you understand the ins and outs of Secret Service jobs, it’s time to learn how to snag those positions. Above all, you’ll need to separate yourself from the competition. These positions are rare and don’t come along every day, so you need to be prepared to strike once there’s an opening. 

Here are some ways you can put yourself in a position to get a Secret Service job:

1. Get Your Education

You need to be college-educated to get a Secret Service position. Enroll in a Bachelor of Science program at a 4-year university that has degrees related to criminal justice, law enforcement, security, and other fields. 

Go into the program knowing your end goal, and treating every class and credit hour as an opportunity to build the highest possible Grade Point Average (GPA). Do your best to get a 4.0 or higher, but make sure that you never get lower than a 3.0. Consider going to summer school to beef up your GPA or to get ahead in the course work. 

When you make the Honor Roll and Dean’s List, and gain admission to the National Honor Society, it’ll glow on a resume and set you apart from the competition. 

This is crucial when you’re learning how to join the Secret Service. 

2. Build Your Career Background

Once you graduate, you must build your resume so that you’re prepared for the work the Secret Service entails. Hirers typically prefer applications to have a military background or prior career in law enforcement. 

You can get the government to pay for your education by enrolling in the military and using your GI Bill. This is particularly helpful if you’re on the officer track. If you decide to go into law enforcement, work your way up through special task forces and consider becoming a detective or high-ranking officer. 

There’s no set number of years you need to get hired by the Secret Service, but you need a strong grasp of the skills and experience in the field. 

3. Learn What They’re Looking For

Self-awareness is huge when you’re applying for competitive Secret Service jobs. Working for the government always comes with extensive background checks and a lengthy screening process. 

You’ll need to pay to get a secret security clearance. During this background check, they’ll get in touch with character witnesses, previous employers, and other people in your life. A Secret Service background check will also include a look at your:

  • Credit report
  • Rental and employment history
  • Police reports and records

Something like a past Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge can set you back and prevent you from getting the job when it’s between you and another application. Pull your own background checks and credit reports to learn if there are any red flags and anything that you can do to mitigate them. 

You’ll also need to get yourself in peak physical fitness so that you can go through training and fulfill the rigors of the job. 

4. Seek Secret Service Positions

Finally, start looking into Secret Service careers by applying for any open positions. For some people, it’s as simple as finding an opening on a government career portal and putting in an application. For others, it might be more of a “who you know” thing. Many people are groomed for these positions and given the inside track on a soon-to-open position. 

The key is to keep networking and doing your best work so that you’re ready for the opportunity when it comes around. 

Adapting to the Job

Congratulations, you’re hired! Once you’ve accomplished the rare achievement of getting hired to the Secret Service, never forget what got you there. Rather than kick your feet up, put your all into the job and set goals for the first year. 

Manage the stress of your personal and professional life, and make sure that you’re eating healthy, working out, and taking downtime when you need it. Immerse yourself into the job and the culture of the Secret Service as a whole. 

Learn the history of the Secret Service, paying attention to details like the Secret Service coin and motto. 

How to Become a Secret Service Agent 101

These tips will help you out when you’re learning how to become a secret service agent. Use this guide so that you can achieve your dreams and join a career track that you will love and appreciate. 

Begin with these tips and check out our other posts for up-to-date career advice.