Diplomatic Security special agents are federal law enforcement officers who serve worldwide.
Overseas, our special agents advise ambassadors on all security issues and coordinate all of a mission's security programs. In the United States, agents investigate passport and visa fraud and protect the Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries.
View the Special Agent brochure.
A Global Force: Agent Profiles: Read what two special agents have to say about their careers as Diplomatic Security special agents.
- U.S. citizenship
- BA/BS degree at time of appointment
- 20 years of age to apply.Candidates must be at least 21 years old but must not have reached their 37th birth date at time of appointment.
- If required, registration under the Military Selective Service Act
- Successfully undergo written and oral assessment
- Successfully undergo a thorough background investigation and qualify for a Top Secret security clearance
- Pass a stringent medical exam, be available for worldwide assignment, and qualify for a Department of State Class 01 medical clearance
- Pass physical fitness tests (click here for the DS Fitness Test Protocol) and be fit for strenuous physical exertion (click here for DS's Physical Readiness Standards)
- Possess a valid U.S. driver's license
- Be willing to carry and use firearms and qualify with firearms throughout career
- Be willing to travel and accept assignments throughout the world. Officers are required to live and work a substantial portion of their career overseas.
- Foreign language ability is desirable, but not mandatory
- Successfully complete all aspects of 6-month training
The men and women of Diplomatic Security are specially trained federal law enforcement professionals. Diplomatic Security special agents are Foreign Service security officers assigned domestically and overseas to ensure that American diplomacy is conducted in a safe and secure environment. Overseas, they advise ambassadors on all security matters and manage a complex range of security programs designed to protect people, facilities, and information. In the United States, agents investigate passport and visa fraud, conduct personnel security investigations, and protect the Secretary of State and certain foreign dignitaries.
Training: Comprehensive and Specialized
A substantial training investment is made in each candidate selected for this program.
Six months of training begin with an orientation period in Washington, DC, followed by basic and specialized training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia. Training continues at State Department facilities in the Washington area. Candidates must pass all required tests at FLETC.
Initially, candidates are trained in personal protection techniques, criminal law and investigation, background investigations, first aid, firearms, and defensive driving. To prepare for specific overseas assignments, officers are trained in security management, post operations, counterintelligence, electronic security, and languages. Other instruction includes advanced firearms techniques, explosive devices, ordnance detection, arson investigation, and medical assistance.
First Assignment: Practical Application of the Basics
Special agents are most frequently assigned first to a domestic field office for 2 years. Here, they receive practical experience performing the variety of security functions for which the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is responsible in the United States, including background investigations on personnel, passport and visa fraud investigations, counterintelligence, and other criminal investigations.
Domestic assignments also can include protection services for the Secretary of State and certain visiting foreign dignitaries or temporary assignment to an overseas post to perform a specific task.
Overseas Assignment: On to Greater Responsibility
Special agents spend a substantial portion of their careers abroad serving at diplomatic posts. While assigned abroad, special agents are often referred to as regional security officers (RSOs).
Overseas assignments offer great opportunity for career growth and usually occur immediately after the initial tour of duty in a domestic field office. Assignment abroad can, however, occur much earlier depending upon needs of the service.
At U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, RSOs develop and implement the various aspects of a comprehensive security program designed to protect personnel, property, and information against terrorists, foreign intelligence agents, and criminals.
With proven aptitudes and on-the-job performance, a Diplomatic Security special agent may advance to the position of regional security officer, responsible for managing security operations for an embassy or for several diplomatic posts within an assigned area. RSOs work closely with top State Department officials and serve as operational supervisors of U.S. Marine Security Guard detachments.
Domestic assignments are equally challenging and rewarding. An officer can aspire to managing field office programs or a Department headquarters office responsible for support operations.
Salary and Benefits
Starting salaries fall within the Foreign Service FP-6 pay scale, depending on qualifications and location of assignment. Vacancy announcements indicate current salary levels. Slightly higher salaries are available for candidates who can demonstrate fluency in certain foreign languages or who have additional, directly related work experience.
During the first three years of a Special Agent’s probationary appointment, satisfactory performance earns automatic grade and pay increases. Thereafter, promotions are competitive based on the recommendations of annual selection panels.
An excellent benefits package includes:
- Health Benefits Plans
- Thrift Savings Plan (equivalents to 401(K) with Government matching)
- Life Insurance
- Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP)
- Long Term Care Insurance
- Annual Leave
- Sick Leave
- Family Medical Leave
- Student Loan Repayment Program
- Ten Paid Holidays Per Year
- Career Counseling and Development
- Child Care Centers (Domestic only)
- Child Care Subsidy (based on income)
- Credit Union, Fitness Facility and More
- Employee Assistance Program
- Employee Consultation Service
- Employee Recognition through our Incentive Awards Program
- Employee Recreation Association
- Extensive Training Opportunities through our Foreign Service Institute (FSI)
- Flexible Work Hours (alternative work schedules)
- Global Career Mobility Opportunities (if desired)
- IQ: INFORMATION QUEST
- Managerial and Leadership Development
- MetroChek Transit Subsidy
- Periodic Performance-Based Pay Adjustments (within grade/step increases)
- Shuttle Bus Service to State Annexes
- Voluntary Leave Transfer Program
- Workers' Compensation Coverage for Work-Related Injuries/Conditions
- Salary Determination
- Government-provided quarters or housing allowance overseas
- Home leave to the United States between overseas assignments
- Rest and recuperation leave, with transportation partially paid, when employees and their dependents are assigned to designated hardship posts
- Cost of living allowance
- Educational allowance for dependents under certain circumstances
- Danger pay at designated posts
- Moving expenses for assignments
A high level of responsibility, good opportunities for promotion, and an excellent benefits package await you. Make the most of your unique skills and abilities as a Diplomatic Security special agent.