Career Guide: Secret Service Agent

Secret Service agents protect different high-profile government officials, including the president, vice president, and visiting diplomats.

Secret Service agents protect different high-profile government officials, including the president, vice president, and visiting diplomats. Becoming a Secret Service agent requires specific education and experience, special training, and passing a variety of tests and exams. These agents work with all different levels of government, coordinating with other departments of law enforcement officers to ensure optimal protection and security.

The Secret Service provides a great option for those interested in pursuing a high-level law enforcement career. This guide offers further information on what Secret Service agents do and how you can become one.

What Does a Secret Service Agent Do?

Secret Service agents carry out many of the same tasks as police officers and other law enforcement officials on a different scale. For example, Secret Service agents hold the authority to carry firearms, execute warrants, make arrests, and investigate criminal matters. These agents also protect all manner of government officials, including congress people, former presidents, visiting heads of state, and presidential candidates.

However, a Secret Service agent's duties vary based on their individual assignment. Many agents work in investigation, specifically looking into financial and document-based fraud. In fact, before a Secret Service agent may go on protective detail, they must spend some time working in investigations. To learn more about a Secret Service agent's job duties, read the Secret Service Agent Job Description.

Secret Service Agent Job Description

How to Become a Secret Service Agent

Steps For Becoming a Secret Service Agent

Step 1:

Learn more about what Secret Service agents do and determine whether the career suits your goals and interests.

Step 2:

Gain the appropriate education and/or experience. For Secret Service agents, this generally includes a bachelor's degree.

Step 3:

Take and pass the Secret Agent Entrance Exam (SAEE) followed by the Applicant Physical Abilities Test (APAT).

Step 4:

Participate in a variety of interviews. This may also include a special security interview, polygraph, background investigation, and an interview with a hiring committee.

Step 5:

Pass medical and psychological evaluations prior to beginning on-the-job training.

To learn more about degree options for Secret Service agents, you can review the following pages:

Secret Service Agent Salary and Job Growth

A Secret Service agent's average yearly salary can vary based on a variety of factors, including geographic location, years of service and experience, and education. According to data from PayScale, Secret Service agents make an average annual salary of $60,585. However, data from the U.S. government shows the potential for higher earnings, particularly with more experience in the field and with higher positions in the service. To learn more about what Secret Service agents earn, check out the Secret Service Agent Salary page.

Secret Service Agent Salary

Take the Next Steps

Aspiring Secret Service agents would benefit from pursuing a degree in criminal justice or a related field. To learn more about earning an associate or bachelor's degree in criminal justice or law enforcement, the following pages offer a more in-depth look at these programs.

Criminal Justice Degree & Career Information

Review this page to learn more about earning a criminal justice degree and the careers available to graduates, including the employment outlook for these careers.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

An associate degree serves as a great first step toward earning a four-year degree. This page offers more information on earning your associate degree in criminal justice.

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

A bachelor's degree serves as a key requirement for becoming a Secret Service agent. Review this page to learn more about earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement

A bachelor's degree in law enforcement can also prepare you for a career in the Secret Service. Read this page to learn more about this degree path.

Master's in Criminal Justice

Earning a graduate degree can sometimes lead to a higher salary potential and more advanced positions. Read this page to learn more about earning a master's degree in criminal justice.

Professional Organizations and Resources

While pursuing a degree or the necessary experience to begin a career as a Secret Service agent, students may benefit from joining a professional organization. Professional organizations offer students and professionals special resources and opportunities for growth and advancement. These resources often include annual conferences, continuing education courses, access to members-only job boards, and networking opportunities.

Some organizations also offer special scholarships and grants for students pursuing degrees at all levels. Aspiring Secret Service agents may find the organizations and resources listed below especially helpful as they pursue their education and begin their careers.

  • Special Agent Entrance Exam (SAEE) Study Guide This study guide, offered directly from the Secret Service, provides tips and sample questions for the SAEE. Every aspiring Secret Service agent must take this exam to qualify.
  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Students in criminal justice programs may benefit from membership in this organization, which offers awards, special publications, annual meetings, and employment bulletins.
  • Secret Service Careers This page on the Secret Service's official website offers an in-depth look at the different careers available within the agency and how to get into the highly competitive field.