How to Join the Secret Service

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The U.S. Secret Service protects leaders of the United States -- most notably the president and the vice president -- and ensures the safety of their surroundings and residences. The Secret Service must evaluate threats against those they protect, plan security in response to those threats and for special events and investigate certain high-profile financial crimes. A variety of jobs exist within the Secret Service -- both administrative and field work as a special agent -- but hopefuls will find the requirements for entry are strict and the application procedures stringent.

Obtain U.S. citizenship, if you are not already a citizen. The Secret Service requires all employees to be citizens, so permanent residents must complete the citizenship process before applying for a position.

Check there is nothing in your background or history that could prove disqualifying. Ask former employers what information they will release about you, and review your credit record. Dispute or resolve any negative information you find so that your record is clean. If you have numerous late payments or judgments against you, consider waiting to apply until you have had time to prove your reliability by making regular, timely payments.

Register with USAJOBS to create an account, upload documents and browse Secret Service job opportunities. Once you have found a position you are interested in, begin the online application process. Answer federal and position-specific questions, upload supporting documentation and submit your application. You can make changes to your application online before the closing date.

Complete the interview process and receive a job offer. Some jobs may require you to pass an examination as part of the initial screening process.

Undergo extensive background screening to obtain necessary top secret security clearance. Expect the background process to take a minimum of six to nine months, during which time your colleagues, friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances -- both past and present -- will be interviewed regarding your personal integrity, honesty and reliability. Your credit will be checked and your criminal history will be reviewed. Many applicants are also required to pass a polygraph examination.

Pass a medical clearance and urinalysis to detect any illicit drug use. The Secret Service requires applicants to pass a drug screen prior to hire and submit to random screening during employment.

Tips & Warnings

  • Join the Secret Service as a student to gain experience and determine if this is the career path you want to pursue. Full-time students seeking a degree are eligible to apply for the Student Career Enhancement Program.
  • Warn your friends, colleagues and neighbors in advance that they may be approached to provide information for your security clearance.
  • If you have traveled or lived outside the United States, or have lived and worked in multiple locations, it will take longer to receive your top secret security clearance.
  • It is not unusual for a top security clearance to take more than a year.

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