This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/job/681343300. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.
The U.S. Department of State is developing a rank-ordered list of eligible hires for a limited number of Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent (DSSSA) vacancies based on the needs of the Department. Learn more about a career in the Foreign Service and about the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
Joining the Foreign Service is more than just salary. Refer to the Benefits section for more information on total compensation.
This is a 2501 Foreign Service position equivalent to the 1811 CS Series.Learn more about this agency
10/04/2022 to 10/02/2023
$52,652 - $84,036 per year
Yes—as determined by the agency policy.
50% or less - Foreign Service Specialists generally spend the majority of their careers assigned to overseas missions and at times, live away from family and/or in difficult or isolated conditions. Applicants to some Foreign Service positions will be notified of an in-person Oral Assessment (OA) requirement in Washington, D.C. or select alternate site within the United States. For those applicants, travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the OA are solely the responsibility of the applicant
Yes—After completing orientation and initial training, a Special Agent will be assigned to a two-year tour of duty, generally in one of the field offices throughout the United States, followed by another two-year assignment directed by the Department. After the initial two tours, assignments will be for periods of one to three years overseas or in the United States.
Permanent - Permanent after tenure granted by a Foreign Service Specialist Tenure Board.
Must be a U.S. citizen. Applicants should read the entire announcement to ensure they meet all requirements and understand a Foreign Service career. Applicants may not reapply for one year after the previous application for the same position. If you were denied suitability by a State Department Suitability Review Panel in the past two years, you are not eligible to apply.
Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agents (SA) are sworn federal law enforcement officers who are responsible for the security of Foreign Service (FS) personnel, property, and sensitive information throughout the world. DSS SAs also are 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. DSS SAs investigate passport, visa, and document fraud, as well as federal crimes in the Special Territorial and Maritime Jurisdiction.
DSS 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 performance of some, or all, of the following functions:
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 update 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, which is about half a typical career, SAs serve as security program managers at U.S. diplomatic or consular posts. At FS posts, DSS 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 FS personnel, facilities, operations, and information against foreign intelligence, criminal, and terrorist activities. DSS also conducts overseas investigations for the Department of State and other federal agencies. DSS RSOs are assigned regional responsibilities, and may serve FS posts in several countries, which may require frequent travel.
Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) 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, SAs help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State and represent the United States to people of other nations. The Foreign Service is more than a job – it is a career.
SAs 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 SA assignments; sometimes domestic assignments will be shortened for re-assignment to a Regional Security Office at an overseas post.
SAs 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.
There is no waiver for current GS-1811s seeking a 2501 appointment at or above age 37 (except for preference eligible veterans).
Candidates must possess at the time of application at least one year of work experience or academic achievements that reflect progressively increasing levels of responsibility.
Work experience must demonstrate basic knowledge of management, such as supervision, initiative, and leadership, and teamwork, English skills, including writing, speaking, and listening, conceptual skills, such as planning and organizing, critical thinking, active learning, and sound judgment, interpersonal skills, including perceptiveness, persuasion, working with others, cultural adaptability, objectivity, and integrity.
Knowledge of security principles and procedures and the administration of security programs, such as conducting investigations, threat assessments, service in a law enforcement agency, or service in the U.S., military, is preferred, but not required. Proficiency in a foreign language is preferred, but not required.
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.
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 for other professions. Applicants must be fit for strenuous physical exertion and pass a Bureau of Diplomatic Security-administered pre-employment physical readiness test. The current 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 https://careers.state.gov/uploads/40/cb/40cb27c284be5d1700aef20231c253b4/DS-PRT-Guide-Revised-161019.pdf. Please note that these standards are subject to change.
SAs 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, pushing, pulling, dragging objects or people, wearing heavy body amour and gear, as well as carrying and fully operating a variety of firearms. SAs must also endure long or unusual hours, inclement weather, lack of sleep, rest, or meals, jetlag, extremes of heat and cold, and wet or polluted environments. 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 sensory 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. SAs 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 SAs 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. Individuals must be able to pass specialized driving courses during initial training. Those invited to the oral assessment will be required to provide proof of a valid U.S. driver’s license.
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.
At the time of application, applicants must possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
If your Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT) results qualify, you will be asked via email from the Department of State to submit documentation demonstrating your educational achievements. If you do not submit this documentation by the deadline indicated in the email, your candidacy will not continue.
Official or unofficial transcripts may be submitted. Your transcript must include your name, the school’s name, the degree, and date awarded. A transcript missing any of these elements or any pages will not pass the minimum qualifications and your candidacy will not continue. Copies of diplomas may not be submitted in lieu of transcripts for education above high school level. Education from a program or institution within the United States must be accredited at the time of completion by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation.
Education completed in foreign high schools, 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. Only accredited organizations recognized as specializing in the interpretation of foreign education credentials that are members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) or the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE) are accepted. If documentation from an accredited organization is not provided, your candidacy will not continue.
For further information on the evaluation of foreign education, please refer to the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of State neither endorses nor recommends any individual evaluation service.
*EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION PROGRAM (E-Verify) – Verification of employment eligibility in the United States is required.
U.S. law requires companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States – either U.S. citizens, or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization. This agency uses E-Verify to compare information from the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to confirm employment eligibility. If the employee’s information does not match DHS and/or SSA records, the employee is given an opportunity to resolve the problem. If eligibility cannot be verified, employment will be terminated.
**By authority of the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act, the Department requires that all career candidates (except for preference-eligible veterans) be at least 21 years old to be appointed and must be appointed prior to the month in which they reach age 37. There is no waiver for current GS-1811s seeking a 2501 appointment at or above age 37 (except for preference eligible veterans.)
For more information about how Veteran’s Preference is applied in the selection process, please visit https://careers.state.gov/about/diversity-inclusion/veterans-program-office/.
***The Department of State Suitability Review Panel and standards are defined in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. For more information please visit: https://fam.state.gov/.
No applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections §607, §608, §610 or §612 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.
A Foreign Service Specialist separated for failure to receive a career appointment under section 306 may not re-apply to be 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 2302(b)(2) from soliciting 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 public officials may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a position if such employment is advocated by their relative.
It's the policy of the Federal Government to treat all 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 advise the Department at OAA@state.gov within one week of a vacancy announcement opening or receipt of an invitation to the oral assessment. Decisions granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.
You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.
Candidates 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 candidates possessing the best qualifications. Part-time work experience will be prorated.
Selected candidates will complete approximately seven months of specialized initial training and orientation. About three months of that training will occur at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia. Orientation will take place in the Washington, DC area and additional training will be provided at Blackstone, VA. During their careers, SAs must serve both overseas and domestically, for assignments of one to three years in duration. Additional training, including training for high risk, high threat assignments, will be periodically required throughout a DSS Special Agent’s career.
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 one year after graduating from the Basic Special Agent Course, newly hired SAs 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. All SAs are required to take this course and complete a refresher course every five years.
See How to Apply for information on how to submit your application and register to take the Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT) at www.pearsonvue.com/DSSAT. You will not apply through USAJobs.
After creating a web account, answer all the self-assessment questions, including work history for the past 10 years, and complete the Personal Narrative questions and Statement of Interest.
These required questions provide an opportunity to describe examples and accomplishments from your education, life, and/or work experience that demonstrate your qualifications for becoming a Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent. Examples can be drawn from any part of your professional or personal experience. Each response is limited to 300 words or fewer (maximum length 2,000 characters). You should compose your replies carefully, as one of the skills necessary to succeed as a Foreign Service Specialist is the ability to write clearly and concisely. Answers to all items in the Personal Narratives and Statement of Interest are required and must be completed in the online application.
Substantive Knowledge: The Bureau of Diplomatic Security requires a cadre of Special Agents with a wide range of skills and experience to accomplish its mission around the world. Relying on your understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the position, briefly describe how your knowledge, skills, and experience qualifies you to be a Special Agent.
Intellectual Skills: Special Agents routinely are required to develop appropriate solutions to complex problems in stressful situations. Please describe a time when you demonstrated problem solving skills to resolve an issue. What did you learn from the experience about problem solving that would benefit you in your work as a Special Agent?
Interpersonal Skills: Special Agents must interact effectively with others and build productive relationships to accomplish their mission. Provide an example of when you used your interpersonal skills to further the goals of an organization, or to accomplish an important task, that best illustrates your skills.
Communication Skills: Special Agents require excellent written and oral communication skills. Please describe a time when your communication skills, such as your ability to speak or write convincingly or defend your position, played a significant role in the outcome of a situation.
Management Skills: Special Agents often are required to manage projects that require careful planning and coordination. Please discuss a project that you managed or helped manage and describe how you achieved success through effective planning, coordination, and management of the project.
Leadership Skills: Leadership skills include motivating others, encouraging creative solutions, establishing positive team relationships, and making sound decisions. Please describe a specific situation in which you exercised leadership that demonstrates these skills, either as an officially designated leader of a group or as a team member, to accomplish a goal.
Statement of Interest
Required narrative Statement of Interest which discusses your:
If your DSSAT results qualify will be asked via email to submit documentation demonstrating your educational achievements. A timeline for submission will be specified in the email. You must submit your documents by the date indicated to qualify for the next step of the selection process. If you do not submit this documentation to demonstrate your educational achievements, your candidacy will not continue. See Education Requirements for more information. PDF documents are strongly recommended; illegible documents will not be accepted.
Applicants aged 37 to 64 claiming Veteran’s Preference must submit documentation by email when requested. If claiming a 5 pt. Veteran’s Preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214 or Certification of service. If claiming a 10 pt. Veteran’s Preference, you must submit your VA letter and SF-15, in addition to your DD-214 or Certification of service. A Certification must be from the armed forces certifying the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions within 120 days after the Certification is submitted by the applicant and should include military service dates, date of expected discharge or release, and character of service and disability rating, if applicable.
Submit your application and register to take the Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT) at www.pearsonvue.com/dssat. Please do not apply through USAJobs.
If you are having technical difficulties with the application process, please contact Pearson Vue’s Customer Service Desk by calling 1-866-389-8339 (toll free), 1-952-905-7483 (toll) or by utilizing the Chat function on www.pearsonvue.com. The Help Desk is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time; closed on local holidays.
For more information on the Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent hiring process, please visit Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent - Careers.state.gov.
If your DSSAT results qualify, you will receive an email from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Human Resources Office requesting documentation by a specific deadline. Please add the Department of State domain name (*.state.gov) as a trusted sender and check your spam/junk mail folder to ensure receipt of email messages regarding your candidacy. It can take up to four months from the date of your test to receive an email since test results are delivered to the Department of State periodically. We appreciate your patience.
For more information on the selection process, visit Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent - Careers.state.gov.
The Federal hiring process is set up to be fair and transparent. Please read the following guidance.
This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/job/681343300. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.
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