A Career as a Secret Service Agent in the Criminal Justice System Can Offer You Promising Earning Opportunities
Secret service agents work for the U.S. government and are salaried pursuant to the federal pay grade schedule. A secret service agent's salary depends on their education, experience level, and location. Agents also receive generous benefits packages and can qualify for compensation for working extra hours through the Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) program. Additional benefits include group life insurance, a health plan, paid federal holidays and annual leave, and comprehensive retirement benefits.
This guide includes information about the salaries and benefits for professionals in this challenging and exciting career.
How Much Do Secret Service Agents Earn?
The salary of a secret service agent depends on several factors. As federal Homeland Security employees, agents are paid according to the salary guidelines for law enforcement officers. The general schedule rates consist of grades and steps within each grade, with pay increases awarded over time.
Secret service agents work for the U.S. government and are salaried pursuant to the federal pay grade schedule.
Special agents typically begin at the GL-07 pay grade ($40,634-$51,389) or the GL-09 level ($45,319-$58,477). The GL-07 pay grade requires a bachelor's degree or three years of applicable experience. Individuals with a master's or law degree or four years of related experience are eligible for GL-09 pay.
The secret service also hires uniformed officers who are paid according to their rank. Agents and uniformed officers receive additional locality pay, depending on where they work. For example, secret service staff who work in the District of Columbia earn 28% locality pay in addition to their base salary.
Base Salaries for Uniformed Secret Service Agents
The table below features examples of typical salaries for uniformed secret service agents, based on their title and years of service. The complete table of earnings provides a comprehensive view of earnings for professionals with 1-22 years of service for all uniformed secret service officer positions. Agents located in the District of Columbia and those who are technicians receive higher pay.
What's My Earning Potential as a Secret Service Agent?
The Office of Personnel Management determines secret service agent pay rates. The office provides an online law enforcement officer salary calculator that offers approximate salary information based on a worker's location, grade, and step.
Increasing Secret Service Agent Salaries With LEAP
Secret service agents often work more than 40 hours per week and are on call outside of their regular hours. Because agents' average workweeks typically total 50 or more hours, they are eligible for availability pay and can earn an additional 25% of their base salary.
The Office of Personnel Management offers detailed information about LEAP.
Why was LEAP started? How is it used?
LEAP compensates employees classified as criminal investigators and special agents who are required to be available to work at all hours for "unscheduled duty." Agents must certify that they work an average of at least two extra hours per workday, which translates to a work week of at least 50 hours.
LEAP is calculated based on a worker's base pay, and eligible agents receive a flat rate of 25% of their salary, regardless of how many extra hours they work. The program was designed to save the government money while compensating agents for overtime.
Who can use LEAP?
Federal employees classified as special agents and criminal investigators can qualify for LEAP. Agents and investigators must certify that they worked an average of at least two extra hours per workday during the past year and that they expect to do so in the next year.
To qualify for the program, secret service employees must be employed as agents; uniformed officers are not eligible for LEAP. Other federal agents can also qualify for LEAP, including those working in immigration; alcohol, tobacco, and firearms; defense; drug enforcement; diplomatic security; customs; the FBI; and postal inspections. FBI police officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers are not eligible.
Are there limits to how much more a secret service agent can make?
Agents cannot earn more than 25% of their base salary through LEAP, regardless of how many extra hours they work per week. Recipients of the availability pay program are ineligible for other types of overtime pay. In addition, LEAP amounts cannot total more than the maximum biweekly payment amount within a pay step.
What are the benefits of LEAP?
Professionals in other industries -- in both the public and private sectors -- often work long hours without additional pay. LEAP ensures that qualifying federal agents receive some compensation for work beyond the 40 hours covered by their salaries.
In addition to compensating criminal investigators and special agents, the program allows the federal government to save money by paying regular sums to cover a portion of workers' projected overtime as opposed to paying actual, unanticipated, and potentially large overtime payments.
How much more can secret service agents make with LEAP?
Qualifying professionals can earn 25% of their base salary through LEAP. For example, an eligible agent who earns $50,000 per year would receive $12,500 through the program, for $62,500 of total annual earnings. An agent who makes $65,000 per year would receive $16,250 through LEAP, for a total of $81,250 annually.
How Do Secret Service Agent Careers Compare to Other Criminal Justice Careers?
The table below shows that secret service agents receive higher median annual salaries than many other law enforcement and criminal justice professionals. A specific agent's salary depends on their degree and their experience in various areas, including surveillance, investigation, and working with evidence. Professionals with a master's or law degree typically earn higher salaries.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Secret Service Agents, Uniformed Sergeant, Year 5||$68,145||N/A|
|Corrections Officers and Bailiffs||$44,400||-7%|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$53,020||6%|
|Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers||$28,530||6%|
|Police and Detectives||$63,380||7%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Secret Service
Take the Next Step in Your Secret Service Career Today
Working as a secret service agent can be challenging and often involves international travel, protecting politicians, and visiting heads of state and other dignitaries. Secret service agents work to resolve federal crimes involving financial security and investigate individuals who threaten people, such as the president and vice president.
You can learn more by visiting the page linked below, which contains comprehensive job descriptions.Learn more about secret service agent jobs
Explore More Careers in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
If you are interested in joining the secret service, or other law enforcement jobs, explore the links below to learn about various degree and career options.