Diplomatic Security Special Agent

United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply

Announcement No: SA-2017-0001
Position Title: Diplomatic Security: Foreign Service Special Agent
Open Period: 12/08/2016 – 12/15/2016
Series/Grade: FP-1811-06
Salary: $43,226 – $58,092
Promotion Potential: MC
Position Information: Work Schedule is Full-time – Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by a Foreign Service Tenure Board.
Supervisory Status: Yes
Duty Locations: MANY vacancies – Washington DC

Who May Apply

Must be a U.S. citizen. Potential applicants should read the entire announcement to ensure that they meet all of the requirements and understand a Foreign Service career.

Applicants may not reapply for one year after the previous application for the same positon.

If a State Department Suitability (Final) Review Panel denied suitability in the last two years, you may not apply.

Job Overview


About the Agency

The U.S. Department of State, our country’s lead foreign policy agency, provides a rich international experience whether at home or abroad, and opportunities to become responsible leaders.

Each day, our employees make a difference as they defend and advance our country’s interests and values. They work on the business of diplomacy and high priority issues that impact the safety, security, and prosperity of our world – human rights, environment, energy, food security, public health, and technology – all while experiencing a unique career.

Our talented workforce reflects and champions all of our strengths and diversity – personal, professional, and educational. We offer a workplace that values and rewards leadership, collaboration and innovation, and personal and professional development.

Diplomatic Security Special Agents (SA) manage a range of security programs worldwide. SAs live and serve at U.S. diplomatic or consular posts abroad, as well as in the Washington, DC area or at field offices in such cities as Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or San Francisco, according to the needs of the service. As members of a diplomatic team, Special Agents not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also represent the United States to people of other nations. The Foreign Service is more than a job – it is a career.

Special Agents normally will be assigned to one of eight domestic Field Offices for their first three years of service (including training), or possibly to a smaller Resident Agent Office. There may, however, be occasions when new SAs will be assigned to other domestic units, support temporary duty assignments, or sent directly overseas. Needs of the service will have a significant bearing on DS SA assignments; sometimes require that domestic assignments be shortened for re-assignment to a Regional Security Office at an overseas post.

The Department of State is developing a rank-order list of eligible hires for a number of Special Agent (SA) vacancies. The specific number to be hired will be based on the needs of the Department and is subject to change.

For additional information, please visit the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s website at www.diplomaticsecurity.state.gov or the Department of State’s Career’s site at www.careers.state.gov.


Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Agents (SA) are sworn federal law enforcement officers who are responsible for the security of Foreign Service personnel, property, and sensitive information throughout the world. DS Special Agents are also responsible for the protection of the Secretary of State, certain foreign dignitaries during their visits to the U.S., and others as designated by the Secretary of State.

DS SAs, depending upon assignment, are responsible for Department of State security policies, provision of a range of security services, management of security operations, supervision of subordinate staff, and the actual performance of some, or all, of the following functions:

  • Conducting protective security services for the Secretary of State, other U.S. government officials, and visiting foreign dignitaries.
  • Leading and managing U.S. diplomatic mission security programs at overseas posts to include protection of personnel, facilities, and sensitive information, along with oversight of the U.S. Marine Security Guard and local security guard programs.
  • Conducting investigations, to include criminal investigations, personnel investigations, counterintelligence and counter-terrorism inquiries, and investigative work preparing for court appearances, and testifying in court and other legal proceedings.
  • Conducting or implementing projects or programs involved with safeguarding classified and sensitive information and materials, as derived from Presidential Directives or Executive Orders.
  • Assessing security threats against U.S. interests and diplomatic installations and personnel abroad, as well as investigating hostile intelligence attempts to subvert U.S. personnel and interests overseas.
  • Leading, managing, or implementing security-related aspects of new office building construction; developing and implementing counter-terrorist access controls for existing and new buildings.
  • Conducting, leading, and managing security-related training, and training assistance programs for U.S. foreign affairs agencies’ personnel, and police / security officials of designated foreign governments.

Domestic SA duties can entail long hours and extended periods of travel, including overseas travel. Domestic assignments include criminal investigations related primarily to the enforcement of statutes protecting the integrity of U.S. passports and entry visa documents. SAs may also conduct background investigations for individuals desiring employment with the Department of State, or updating the security clearances of current Department of State employees. Throughout their careers, SAs can expect to work substantial overtime, and occasional irregular schedules that require duty on weekends and holidays.

When assigned abroad, SAs serve as security program managers at U.S. diplomatic or consular posts. At Foreign Service posts, Diplomatic Security SAs are referred to as Regional Security Officers (RSO), and are responsible for the leadership and management of a broad range of security programs to protect Foreign Service personnel, facilities, operations, and information against foreign intelligence, criminal, and terrorist activities. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security also conducts overseas investigations for the Department of State and other federal agencies. Diplomatic Security RSOs are assigned regional responsibilities, and may serve Foreign Service posts in several countries, which may require frequent travel.

Applicants must be willing and able to travel extensively, and on short notice, throughout the world using whatever means available. Traveling and assignments abroad may involve working in remote areas where traditional comforts and medical facilities are limited. SAs may be required to travel to locations of civil unrest, where conditions are potentially hostile, and where performance of duties are conducted under hazardous circumstances.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) program develops and tests proficiency in job-related subjects that include criminal law, federal court procedures, use of firearms, physical readiness, personal defensive tactics, driving skills, emergency medical procedures, protective security techniques, and criminal investigations. Proficiency is measured through a series of scored practical exercises, as well as subject matter-specific and comprehensive written examinations. Failure to successfully complete any portion of the training program is grounds for separation. Upon satisfactory completion of FLETC, students will continue with approximately four additional months of DS Basic Special Agent training.

Within four to six months after graduating from the Basic Special Agent Course newly hired special agents will be required to enroll in the “Advanced Tactics, Leadership, and Skills” (ATLaS) course offered through the Diplomatic Security Training Center. The ATLaS course is 11 weeks long and focuses on enhanced tactics, training and leadership skills.

Travel Required

  • 25% or Greater
  • A SA generally may spend more than half of his/her career assigned to our overseas missions and at times, lives away from family and/or in difficult or isolated conditions. Selected applicants will be notified of an Oral Assessment (OA) requirement in Washington D.C. or select alternate sites within the U.S. For the selected applicants, all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the OA are the sole responsibility of the applicant.

Relocation Authorized

  • Yes
  • Selected candidates will report to Washington, DC for approximately seven months of specialized training and orientation. Approximately three months of that training will occur at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia. Orientation and additional training is based in the Washington, D.C. area and West Virginia. During their careers, Special Agents must serve both overseas and domestically, for assignments of one to three years in duration.

Job Requirements

Key Requirements

  • Be a U.S. citizen and available for worldwide service.
  • At least 20 years old and not older than 37 years.*
  • Fit for physical exertion and pass a physical readiness test.
  • Able to obtain/maintain a Top Secret Security Clearance and TS/SCI access.
  • Able to obtain a Class 1 Foreign Service Medical Clearance.
  • Able to obtain a favorable Suitability Review Panel determination.**


Applicants must have at least one year of work experience and/or academic achievements that reflect progressively increasing levels of responsibility.

Work experience will be reviewed to identify examples of knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience in interpersonal skills, resourcefulness, initiative, leadership, judgment, emotional stability, flexibility, motivation, functional skills (competence in the job), ability to assume responsibility, and trustworthiness.

Specialized experience in such areas as the administration of security programs, the conduct of investigations, threat assessments, service in a law enforcement agency, and service in the U.S. military are all highly desirable. However, it is not essential to have those specific experiences or ability in a foreign language to be considered for this position.

Applicants with 18 credit hours of graduate level study may substitute that academic achievement for a year of work experience. Applicants who do not have a minimum of 18 credit hours of graduate study may substitute the following educational achievements for one year of work experience: 2.75 GPA (or above) for the Bachelor’s degree and two internships totaling at least four months duration.

Applicants are required to qualify with firearms during initial training and maintain that proficiency thereafter. Applicants must be willing to use and carry firearms throughout their career. Applicants must not have been convicted of any felony charge or be prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Applicants must possess and maintain a valid U.S. driver’s license, and be able to pass specialized driving courses during initial training.

SAs must perform duties in the field that are physically and mentally demanding. SAs must be willing and able to meet these physical demands in high-stress, life and death situations. For this reason, SA applicants must satisfy medical, suitability and physical readiness standards that are more rigorous than those of most other professions. Applicants must be fit for strenuous physical exertion and pass a Bureau of Diplomatic Security administered pre-employment physical readiness test. Physical readiness standards can be found at https://careers.state.gov/downloads/files/prt-test-standards and the Physical Readiness Guide can be found at DS PRT Guide

Special Agents are required to perform protective security assignments with physical demands that may include, but are not limited to, intermittent and prolonged periods of running, walking, standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs, quickly entering and exiting various vehicles, enduring inclement weather, as well as carrying and fully manipulating a variety of firearms. Applicants must pass a thorough medical examination, which includes a cardiovascular stress test conducted or authorized by the Department of State’s Office of Medical Services.

SA applicants must meet certain minimum physical standards, including various tests for vision in each eye, with and without correction, as well as audio-metric standards for hearing in each ear (use of a hearing aid is not permitted), sufficient to satisfactorily perform an Agent’s duties. For example, uncorrected distant vision must be 20/100 or better in each eye and corrected to 20/20 in one eye and 20/30 or better in the other eye. Applicants must also pass color vision and depth perception tests.

SAs conduct raids, make arrests, and perform other law enforcement or related functions that may require running, jumping, kneeling, squatting, dodging, lying prone, as well as wrestling, restraining, and subduing suspects, attackers, or detainees. Agents must be able, if necessary, to conduct security inspections that may require crawling under vehicles and other low clearances or in tight spaces such as attics and crawl spaces.

It may also be necessary for a SA to assist with installing or maintaining security countermeasures, which might involve lifting heavy objects and working on ladders or rooftops.

SAs must possess and maintain a valid U.S. driver’s license, and be skilled at driving and maneuvering a motor vehicle defensively or evasively in a variety of situations, and at various speeds.

SA candidates will be trained in many of the above skills, to include firearms training, defensive tactics, how to physically restrain a suspect, and specialized driving techniques. SA candidates must be able to participate in, and complete all aspects of their training. Any physical condition that would cause the candidate to be a hazard to himself/herself or others, including those they are protecting or placing under arrest, is potentially disqualifying.

Applicants must successfully complete all aspects of the seven month initial training program for their candidacy and their employment to be continued; failure to pass any aspect of the initial training, including Physical Readiness Tests, is grounds for separation.

All SA candidates must undergo a thorough background investigation to determine eligibility for a security clearance. SA candidates and, with few exceptions, all immediate family members must be citizens of the United States in order for the candidate to qualify for SCI access.

The background investigation will also determine the extent to which candidates can provide credible testimony. Candidates must disclose as part of the investigation information that could be used to impeach their character, including: (a) any finding of misconduct that reflects on the truthfulness or possible bias of the applicant, including a finding of lack of candor during an administrative inquiry; (b) any past or pending criminal charge brought against the candidate; and (c) any credible allegation of misconduct that reflects upon the truthfulness or possible bias of the candidate that is the subject of a pending investigation. Applicants whose backgrounds contain impeachment information of the kind described above may be unqualified for this position.


Applicants must have already received or be within nine months of receiving their Bachelor’s degree in order to apply; specifically they must receive their degree by September 14, 2017 (exceptions will not be granted).

You will be required to submit a copy of your undergraduate college/university transcript(s). If you do not submit this documentation to demonstrate your educational achievements, you will not be given credit. Copies of diplomas may not be submitted in lieu of transcripts for education.

Official or unofficial transcripts may be submitted. Your transcript must include your name, the school’s name, and, if applicable, the degree and date awarded. A transcript missing any of these elements will not be considered and your candidacy ended.

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order to be credited towards qualifications. Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet the education requirements if you can show that the foreign education is comparable to that received in an accredited educational institution in the United States. It is your responsibility to provide such evidence when applying. Click on the link for a list of accredited organizations recognized as specializing in interpretation of foreign education credentials.

Security Clearance

Top Secret/SCI

How to Apply

Applicants must complete and submit their initial responses, and take an online examination at https://corp.performancefit.com/testcenter/dos/login.jsp. The online examination consists of a 25 minute essay and a 55 minute multiple-choice questionnaire.

Applicants who are successful in the online examination will be immediately directed to upload their transcript(s), narrative statement of interest, resume, minimum qualifications checklist, valid driver’s license and DSS physical readiness test self-certification evaluation form.

Applicants have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date of this announcement to complete the application process and supply all required documentation. Application packages must be complete, submitted in accordance with the instructions in the online examination and received by the closing date in order to receive further consideration.

Qualified applicants who attain competitive scores in the online examination will be invited to take further assessments with the U.S. Department of State.

Technical assistance with your online application can be obtained at DOShelpdesk@pdri.com during the open announcement period from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time on the weekends.

For more information on the FSS hiring processes, please visit our FAQs at http://careers.state.gov/faqs. If you have any questions regarding FS careers, please visit our Careers.State.Gov site and post your question(s) on the appropriate Forum in the Connect section: http://careers.state.gov/connect/forums.

How You Will Be Evaluated

Applicants will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, awards, training, and self-development as it relates to the position. Selection for this position will be made only from among applicants possessing the best qualifications. Part-time work experience will be prorated.

To preview questions please click here.

Required Documents

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all required documents are uploaded and the application is fully completed before the closing deadline of this announcement. Any missing required documents or incomplete applications will result in the application not being considered further.

NOTE: The following six requirements apply ONLY to those applicants who successfully pass the online examination

  1. A detailed resume.
  2. A copy of a valid U.S. driver’s license.
  3. A current completed, signed, and dated Minimum Qualifications Checklist. A Minimum Qualifications Checklist from a prior announcement will not be accepted.
  4. A two page typed (double-spaced) narrative Statement of Interest that discusses your background, personal interests, and your motivation for joining the Foreign Service, and your motivation for becoming a Diplomatic Security Special Agent.
  5. Completed and signed DSS Physical Readiness Test Self Certification Evaluation Form. Physical readiness forms from other agencies will not be accepted.
  6. Official college or university transcript(s) confirming award of degree(s) or the date a degree will be awarded. An “unofficial” copy of the transcript(s) may be used pending issuance of the official documentation. Applicants who are successful in this examination process are reminded that an official transcript is required to complete their official file.

For applicants at or above the age of 37, you must also submit the following proof of veteran’s preference to receive consideration:
DD-214 or Statement of Service (if claiming 5 or 10 point preference).
VA Disability Rating and Standard Form 15 (if claiming 10 point preference only).

If claiming 5-point veteran’s preference, you must provide a copy of form DD-214 that includes character of service (e.g. Member 4 or Service 2 copy) or Statement of Service/Proof of Service that includes service dates and character of service.

If claiming 10-point veteran’s preference, you must submit a VA letter or disability determination from a branch of the Armed Forces (or documentation of Purple Heart, if applicable) AND a form SF-15 (Application for 10 point veteran preference).

Submitted materials become the property of the Department of State and will not be returned.

Additional Information

What To Expect Next

Only a subset of successful applicants who uploaded all the required documentation and whose online score falls at or above the competitive level will have their application packages reviewed to ensure that they meet the minimum qualifications for the position.

Those applicants who meet the minimum qualifications for the position will be invited to respond to an Accomplishments Questionnaire which provides the opportunity to describe examples and accomplishments from your education, life, and/or work experiences that demonstrate your qualifications for becoming a DS Special Agent.

You can find additional information about the DS SA hiring process and next steps here.

Due to the high volume of applications, we ask all applicants to remain patient and await communication. The process of examining thousands of applicants can take 6 months to a year. Every effort is made to contact applicants one month in advance of an oral assessment being offered in a particular city.

We recommend adding the Department of State domain (@state.gov) as an approved sender.


Review our benefits

Health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures. Overseas benefits include tax-free housing overseas and tax-free education allowance for dependent children between K-12 overseas.

Additional Salary Information

Starting Salary – FP-6/4 – $43,226 – $58,092 per annum (This figure does not include the 16.14% Overseas Comparability adjustment for overseas assignments, Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), or locality pay for domestic assignments.)

For information on FS Salary, please visit https://careers.state.gov/faqs/faqs-wiki/foreign-service-salary-matching-pay-tables-danger-pay-overseas-moving-expenses-and-taxes.

Other Information

*By law (Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act), all career candidates (except for preference-eligible veterans) must be at least 21 years old to be appointed and must be appointed prior to the month in which they reach age 37. For more information about how Veteran’s Preference is applied in the FSS Selection Process, please visit: http://careers.state.gov/faqs/faqs-wiki/are-veterans-given-hiring-preference-.

**The Department of State Suitability Review Panel standards are defined in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. For more information please visit: http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/regs/fam.

No applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections §607, §608, §610 or §611 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu of separation under these provisions. In addition, no applicant will be considered who has previously been separated for failure to receive a career appointment under section §306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu thereof.

An FSS separated for failure to receive a career appointment under section 306 may not re-apply to be an FSS in the same skill code, but may apply for another skill code (or to be a Foreign Service Generalist).

Executive Branch agencies are barred by 5 US Code 3303 as amended from accepting or considering prohibited political recommendations and are required to return any prohibited political recommendations to sender. In addition, as mandated by 5 US Code 3110, relatives of federal employees cannot be granted preference in competing for these employment opportunities.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors.

The Department of State provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodations for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department at ReasonableAccommodations@state.gov , within one week of the vacancy announcement opening or receiving their invitation to the oral assessment. Decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.

This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/458476800. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.