The United States Secret Service has its greatest presence t in Washington, D.C. The main mission of the Secret Service is protection, which ensures that our President, Vice President, and their families, along with former U.S. presidents, candidates running for office of the President of the United States, visiting foreign dignitaries and leaders, and federal employees on special missions abroad under Executive Order of the President, are safe at all times.
Washington, D.C. is home to a field office and other agency locations that include:
- Recruitment Division: 202-406-5830
- Public Affairs, Office of Government and Public Affairs: 202-406-5708
- Human Capital Division, Applicant Information and Assistance Hotline: 202-406-5458
The Secret Service is somewhat shrouded in mystery, with most people knowing very little about the men and women surrounding our nation’s highest elected officials. Although much about the agency’s operations remains highly confidential, what is known is that only the most highly qualified individuals become Secret Service agents.
Requirements to Become a Secret Service Agent in Washington, D.C.
To ensure that only the most qualified candidates become special agents, the hiring and pre-employment process is strict, rigorous and unwavering. In fact, obtaining an assignment in one of the agency’s protective missions requires no less than two years of investigative mission experience.
Minimum requirements for Secret Service jobs are not unlike many other federal agencies, as all candidates must be U.S. citizens, be between the ages of 21 and 36 (or 40 with veteran’s status), and be free of any felony or domestic violence misdemeanor convictions.
Candidates can meet the minimum requirements for the GL-7 if they possess a bachelor’s degree with superior academic achievement.
As such, it is quite common for individuals seeking a career in the Secret Service to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:
- Police science
- Criminal justice administration
- Forensic psychology
- Forensic science
- Emergency management
- Criminal justice
- Public safety administration
- Homeland security
A degree in police science, for example, emphasizes the fundamental standards that support public safety and law enforcement professionals, the leadership principles needed to effectively manage government resources, and the strategies needed for partnering with other organizations when addressing the underlying causes of crime.
As such, topics in a police science bachelor’s degree program often include:
- Leading Teams
- Forms of Crime
- Strategic Planning
- Deviance and Social Control
- The Criminal Mind
- Comparative Police Systems
- Crisis and Emergency Planning
- Emergency Public Health Issues
- Crime Prevention and Physical Security
Pre-employment assessments, examinations, and post-employment training programs are also an integral part of becoming a Secret Service agent. Pre-employment testing includes a written examination, oral interviews, a physical assessment, a complete medical examination, and a drug screening, among others, while the course of training for new agents occurs over the course of 7 months and includes training at the Federal Law Enforcement Agency Training Centers (FLETC) in Georgia and at the James J. Rowley Training Center in Washington, D.C.
Secret Service At Work in Washington, D.C.
Given that Washington, D.C. is the nation’s political hub, with major federal buildings, foreign embassies and, of course, the White House located here, the Secret Service’s protective mission in Washington, D.C. is highly complex.
Although the Secret Service does not release statistics regarding the number of agents in any given location (it is estimated that there are 1,200 uniformed division officers and 2,800 agents in this federal law enforcement agency), it can be speculated that there are more Secret Service agents in Washington D.C. than any other metro area in the United States.
Large-scale National Specialty Security Events, including, most recently, the inaugural ceremony of President Obama, as well as national conventions and international conferences, demand the coordination of a large number of our country’s Secret Service professionals, both secret agents and uniformed division officers.
Recent headlines out of Washington D.C. clearly reflect the strong presence of the Secret Service in our nation’s capital:
- On December 19, 2013, Secret Service agents swept the Swedish embassy in Washington D.C. after a caller claimed the presence of a bomb within the embassy.
- On December 4, 2013, Secret Service agents arrested a man who threw a suspicious item over the White House gate.
- On December 30, 2013, the Secret Service began an investigation into an apparent drive-by shooting that occurred near the White House.