DEA Agent Salary: What You'll Earn

A Career as a DEA Agent in the Criminal Justice System Can Offer You Lucrative Earning Opportunities

A bachelor's degree can lead to new career possibilities in the criminal investigation field, and many recent graduates choose to become DEA agents. Individuals who land entry-level roles with the DEA are often able to take on additional responsibilities, accruing tenure and advancing to high-level positions as they aid in criminal investigations and cultivate meaningful careers. While intellectually challenging and rewarding, this path can also be lucrative. Work experience strongly impacts salary, with late-career DEA agents earning 89% more than new professionals. Read on to explore some of the variables that influence agents' earning potential.

How Much Do DEA Agents Earn?

Few variables influence salary potential as strongly as professional experience. Entry-level DEA agents typically earn around $49,746 each year, while mid-career agents garner $55,483 annually and special agents enjoy annual salaries of $92,592 or higher. Other factors, including location, regional cost of living, standard pay rates, and an agent's level of education can also impact earnings. DEA agents with prior military experience may draw higher salaries than professionals with no military training.

The DEA website provides valuable career information for prospective agents, including starting salaries and pay grades, stages in the hiring process, and information about the Physical Task Assessment (PTA).

Approximate Salaries for DEA Agents by General Schedule
Entry Level: GS-7 $49,746
Midcareer: GS-9 $55,483
Special Agents: GS-13 $92,592+

Source: DEA.gov

What's My Earning Potential as a DEA Agent?

Prospective agents can calculate their potential salary based on locality, grade, and step with the Office of Personnel Management's Law Enforcement Officer Salary Calculator. This tool requires a Javascript-enabled browser.

Increasing DEA Agent Salaries with LEAP

Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) offers extra pay to certain law enforcement agents and criminal investigators who regularly work unscheduled hours on top of their scheduled shifts. DEA agents who regularly complete two additional unscheduled hours during a normal workday are invited to participate in the program, which adds 25% to the professional's base pay per pay period.

How Do DEA Agent Careers Compare to Other Criminal Justice Careers?

The following table compares the' median annual salary for DEA agents to salaries for other criminal justice careers. The following data points can help you compare the earning potential for each position and decide if a career as a DEA agent is right for you. While the figures below indicate median annual salaries, individual numbers can vary considerably, depending on a law enforcement professional's work experience, education level, geographical region, and employer. As the table below indicates, DEA agents out-earn individuals in similar roles, such as corrections officers, security guards, and gaming surveillance officers.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
DEA Agents $55,843 N/A
Corrections Officers and Bailiffs $43,510 -7%
Lawyers $120,910 8%
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers $26,960 6%
Police and Detectives $62,960 7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Take the Next Step Today

The following resources can help prospective DEA agents and other law enforcement professionals learn more about their educational options. Read on to find a degree that aligns with your career goals, law enforcement courses, and common career paths for each degree.