(replaces SOP 134C, dated September 22, 2008)

SUBJECT: Salary Standards for Entry-Level Diplomatic Security Special Agent Candidates, effective July 16, 2015

PURPOSE: To provide procedures for determining the entry-level salary for Diplomatic Security Special Agent Candidates at the time of appointment in accordance with 3 FAM 3121.1-2.


The Office of the Registrar is responsible for determining the entry-level salary that the candidate is offered, taking into consideration the candidate’s directly-related work experience and education, and, as appropriate, current salary. Salary review/appeal procedures are covered by SOP 134D1 dated August 18, 2014.

For all Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Agents, the minimum entry-level salary is set at FP-6, Step 4 and the maximum is set at FP-6, Step 14. All new DS Special Agents will enter on duty at the FP-6 Step 4 level, unless awarded additional steps for certain education, experience, or matching salary considerations identified below.

Education: Prior to appointment, all candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited college or university. The accrediting institution or association must be one of those recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal job requirements if the candidate can show that the foreign education is comparable to education received in the United States. Candidates will be awarded one additional step (above FP6, Step 4) for an advanced degree (master’s or doctorate) in a related field (e.g., criminal justice), or a law degree.

Directly-Related Experience: An additional step may be granted for each year of work experience directly-related to the functions of the DS Special Agent position. In no case will more than 40 hours of directly-related experience be credited for a one-week period, regardless of the type of work performed, the number of jobs held, the hours worked or the employment status (self-employed or other). Directly-related experience that is part-time work will be prorated. When all of a candidate’s directly-related experience is totaled, no credit will be given for periods of less than a year, e.g., a total of four years and eleven months of directly-related experience is credited as four years.

Directly-related experience will be credited only as follows:

  • Military Service –
    • Specialized military service as a Special Agent in CID, OSI, NCIS and/or Coast Guard Intelligence.
    • Specialized experience in military organizations equivalent to those named above in which the primary duties are directly related to the functions of a DS Special Agent. No credit will be given for service as a Marine Security Guard watchstander, a police patrolman or a Military Police officer without investigative or protective detail responsibilities. It will be incumbent on the applicant to provide all the following supporting documentation:
      • Military document showing a Military Occupational Specialty, Skill Code, or Designator which denotes a military specialty directly related to the DS Special Agent position.
      • Copy of military orders showing applicant’s assignment to a unit in which the primary mission is the conduct of investigations, personal/protective security functions, or management of security programs.
      • Copy of a fitness/performance report from unit in question demonstrating that functions performed are directly-related to those of a DS Special Agent, and that the candidate performed them satisfactorily.
  • Law Enforcement –
    • Specialized, directly-related experience as a detective, criminal investigator, personal protective specialist (e.g., Governor’s/Mayor’s Detail), or a Special Agent in a state or federal law enforcement organization.
  • Other Categories –
    • Additional salary steps are not awarded for work experience which is not directly related to the functions of the DS Special Agent position.

Matching Salary: For DS Special Agent candidates appointed without a break in service of more than three days from other federal government civilian direct-hire employment, in which they served for more than 90 days, the entry-level salary should be the result of whichever of the following computations is more favorable to the candidate:

  • FP-06, Step 4, adjusted for education and directly-related experience as outlined above; or
  • The step within the FP-06 Foreign Service grade that is nearest to, but not less than, the candidate’s current federal salary at the effective date of appointment to the Foreign Service, using the Foreign Service “Overseas” Salary Table as the basis for comparison. If the current federal salary is too high to be matched within grade FP-06, Step 14 of that grade is the starting salary. Locality pay for Washington D.C. will be considered part of the current salary for those federal government civilian direct-hire employees currently receiving Washington D.C. locality pay. Federal government civilian direct-hire employees who do not receive Washington D.C. locality pay will not be allowed to include locality pay as part of their current salary.

For DS Special Agent candidates who are not appointed directly from other federal civilian employment but who previously held a federal government civilian direct-hire position, their highest federal salary will be considered for purposes of salary matching.

Candidates must submit a copy of an SF-50 Notification of Personnel Action for proof of their current or prior federal employment.

Salary matching will not be considered for those Foreign Service DS Special Agent candidates who do not have current or prior federal civilian direct-hire employment.