I was interested in a job that would be different yet challenging everyday. I was always interested in law enforcement and the dual mission of protection and financial crimes investigations intrigued me. I was excited about the prospect of world travel, coupled with the opportunity to work complex criminal investigations. This job seemed well-suited to my interests in pursuing excellence in physical fitness, critical thinking and firearms skills.
After three and a half years, my paralegal job, although interesting, had become repetitive. I felt the Secret Service would give me the challenge and atypical work environment I was seeking and the special agent position sounded exciting.
I chose to join the Secret Service after meeting a female agent. I had always wanted to work in law enforcement, but was drawn to the Secret Service because of its dual mission of protection and investigation. I was also drawn to the Secret Service because I thought I had a lot to contribute as a woman. I always was involved in sports and was a competitive person, so I felt I would be able to use those attributes as an agent.
I’m a Uniformed Division Officer…
I chose to join the Secret Service because of the great reputation, respect and high praise the agency received from my mentor. I respected the difficult job the Secret Service has in protecting such important people in our county.
I was a senior in college when September 11, 2001, happened and I wanted to give back to my country.
The thought of serving my country by protecting the President of the United States is an honor.
There are so many facets of the Uniformed Division: canine, countersniper, emergency response team...the list goes on and on. If you apply yourself, you can advance with this agency and really make a difference.
I’m an Administrative/Professional/Technical Specialist…
I chose the Service due to its prestige -- the elite group of men and women that comprise the organization. Since I am a minority woman in a non-law enforcement position, I also wanted to represent the Service in its endeavors to recruit a more diverse workforce. – Human Resources Specialist
I really like that the Secret Service is a smaller agency and I appreciate that upper management makes an effort to know who I am. It is significantly more family-oriented than places I worked previously. I have recently started my own family, and I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received from my coworkers and supervisors. – Counterfeit Specialist
I’ve found common misconceptions to be unfounded: that women can’t perform in a high octane position like law enforcement because they are too emotional, or that as soon as a woman becomes a mother, she’ll quit the job or stop working as hard as her male counterparts. This disparages the dedicated and focused efforts of most women on this job. The Secret Service has a number of accomplished women in leadership roles, some who are mothers, some who are not, who have never let their gender, their state of being or questions about their work ethic impede their commitment as professionals.
I have found that if you work hard and don’t expect to be treated differently then you will be respected for your work and opportunities will open up for you.
The biggest stereotype is that to succeed, you need to act like a man. The Secret Service is an equal opportunity employer and each agent is given the same opportunities regardless of gender. I believe that women in law enforcement share many of the same qualities as their male counterparts, but each agent brings his/her unique qualities, skills and personality traits to any given situation. My experiences as a female agent in this organization have been consistently positive. There is also a myth that you can not have a family and follow the traditional agent career track. I have two children and have worked hard to find the right support system to enable the fluid lifestyle required for this job.
Our agency benefits from diversity our officers bring to law enforcement. While working as a Uniformed Division Officer I have seen that every man and woman has valuable experience to offer this agency.
There are stereotypes that say police work requires you to be physically imposing and that women aren’t thick-skinned enough to be good police officers. Badges come in gold and silver, not pink or blue. While you do have to pass a job-related physical ability test, police work is not about size and muscles. Police work is a challenging and rewarding profession limited only by the abilities of the individual officer. Today there are an abundance of successful women in the Secret Service. As more women enter the profession, there is greater acceptance among their peers and the public.
I would suggest anyone interested in the Secret Service do as much research as possible on the dual mission and make an effort to speak with someone who is currently on the job. Be proactive in your preparation. Present yourself professionally (punctual, dressed appropriately, having requested materials with you) for all application appointments and interviews, make sure you’re physically prepared to attend training. Most importantly, be honest about the information you provide, and ask questions as you go through the hiring process. If you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you as an applicant, the hiring process and start of your career will go much smoother.
Be realistic about your expectations, abilities and weaknesses. Think about the impact on your family and discuss the idea with them honestly. Consider the requirement to travel, the stress of shift/holiday work, and the obligatory relocations. Take your physical fitness seriously. It may save your life or the life of someone else. Finally, take stock of your mental preparedness to accept the responsibilities of being a special agent.
This position and career track is not for everyone. It is physically and mentally demanding at times. One should enter this field with your eyes open and have a complete understanding of what will be expected of you. Numerous moves, extensive travel, and long hours are in one’s future for those interested in a special agent position with the Secret Service.
I’m a Uniformed Division Officer…
The best advice that I would give anyone interested in applying for a Uniformed Division position is to make sure you do your research before you apply.
Never give up on your goals or listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something.
Anyone interested in a position with the Secret Service should consider that while there are many opportunities and a wide variety of training, we are still faced with personal and professional challenges throughout our career. The Secret Service is unlike any other agency because of its dual mission and high demand for travel. Always remember, with reward, there is always sacrifice.
I’m an Administrative/Professional/Technical Specialist…
I would advise someone interested in any position within the Secret Service to talk to people who are currently in that position or have been in that position in the past. It’s important to go into any position with a realistic view of what to expect once on the job. - Protective Intelligence Research Specialist
Research positions that fit your qualifications and interests. Read the vacancy announcement thoroughly and understand the required qualifications and the duties of the position. Do not focus on the grade levels, but rather on whether you would qualify based on what is outlined. The USAJobs.gov Resource Center contains useful information to those new to the hiring process. - Human Resources Specialist
When I applied I wondered if I had the “right” background, education, work history for the position. I don’t think you have to come from a criminal justice background to succeed in this position. I have learned that in order to gain the full potential of this position you must aggressively seek out ways to use your skills to support the office. - Investigative Support Assistant
Keep your options open! In 2006, I moved from the position of Systems Accountant, performing both accounting and information technology duties to an Information Technology Specialist where I perform information technology responsibilities that support an entire division. - Information Technology Specialist
Some of my most rewarding experiences have involved catching the bad guy; breaking up a counterfeiting currency ring, or stopping someone who threatens to hurt a protectee before they get the chance to launch an attack. Knowing that I’ve done the work needed to outsmart the bad guy is very gratifying. My assignments on this job have taken me to some amazing events and locations around the world, and have literally made me a frontline witness to world history.
My most rewarding assignments were while assigned to the Presidential Protective Division and as an instructor at our training academy. Working with the military and the White House staff to coordinate domestic and foreign advances for the President and his family was extremely exciting and rewarding. I have been afforded the opportunity to travel around the world, see magnificent sites and experience amazing cultures. I also truly value my time at the training academy as I was given the opportunity to create lesson plans and exercises for basic trainees and advanced agents. I am a firm believer in the value of training and was given tremendous latitude and support in that assignment.
I have traveled to many places domestic and foreign, places I would not otherwise go to. Meeting so many different types of people and experiencing the different cultures has been quite rewarding.
My most rewarding experiences have come from assisting others; whether they were diplomats, the general public, supervisors or fellow officers.
Being a Firearms Instructor is my most rewarding experience. I’m helping people learn and maintain a skill that may someday save an individual’s life.
It is possible to be a working mother within the USSS. It is tough, but it is possible. You will miss important moments because you are working, but any working mother faces that. I am a strong believer in that it is the quality of time you spend with your child, not the quantity. When I am with my daughter, I am with her. She knows that! My job every day is to keep our protectees safe and to go home safely to her. My priorities have changed from the single woman who came on the job 8 years ago!
These days you don’t have to make a choice between having a career or a family. To balance both you have to make adjustments in the way you look at your job and home life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed. Balancing both can be done and is always a work in progress on this job. The best thing to do is have a support system in place in case last minute things come up. Other agents are just as family oriented and willing to help. They understand when things come up. On the flip side of that you still have to do your job and make arrangements for your kids to be cared for. The best thing I found was to have a spouse that is just as involved with my kids as I am.
My family comes first. That being said, I think it’s important to set an example for your children working in a field that you love. Every day when I leave to go to work, my kids know that I am looking forward to my day. It is a great gift to demonstrate to your children that it’s possible to choose a job that makes them happy while balancing the needs of a family. Together with a supportive spouse, I have balanced my kids’ need for routine with flexibility in our schedule. If I have to work a holiday or a special day, we celebrate on another day. If I have a trip that takes me away from the family for more than a few days, I call home, stay abreast of what they are doing, and ALWAYS bring them a small gift. My kids love taking things to school like money from foreign countries or other souvenirs from my travels.
I love being a Special Agent for the Secret Service and I love being a mom. Each trip I take, foreign or domestic, I send my son a post card. It doesn’t alleviate my guilt for being away but it does add an educational aspect to my absence. These postcards teach geography, culture and educates about significant events I have taken a part in as an Agent. He also knows that even though I may not be home with him that I am thinking about him while I am away. Being away from home gives me an opportunity to recharge my batteries as a mom and appreciate the time I have with him when I am home. I have the opportunity to see the world and be a part of historical events as part of my job.
It is challenging and can be difficult, but it is not impossible. As long as an applicant understands that as an agent or officer they will, at times, be required to be away from home, and that some of those times will be during holidays, birthdays or other family events, they should not be discounted as valuable members of the workforce. I would encourage those applicants to ensure they have a network of people they can rely on to assist them in the care of their children.
Women working as special agents or Uniformed Division officers or those in various Administrative, Professional and Technical postions may qualify for a part-time program offered by the Secret Service. Part-time program participants can work between 16 and 32 hours a week for a portion of their career.
To be eligible, employees must have career status and have served at least three years and 120 days on the job, have received acceptable performance ratings and serve in an assignment that qualifies for the program. All requests are based on the needs of the Service at the time of request.
Participation in the program is for to a one-year period, but is renewable up to one-year increments, for a maximum career total of five years.