Secret Service agents are often depicted as an elite group of individuals tasked with protecting some of the most important people in the United States, but are Secret Service agents allowed to have families and normal lives even though their jobs are so dangerous and high priority?
Secret Service agents can get married and have families. There is no hiring benefit or advantage given out when applying to be a Secret Service agent as an unmarried person. Having a strong work-life balance is essential to prevent burnout or low morale as a Secret Service agent.
Many secret service agents have spouses and children because at the end of the day, being in the Secret Service is still just an occupation. It is not the entirety of an individual’s life. With that being said, the Secret Service life is very time-consuming and having a work-life balance is difficult.
Secret Service agents are very much allowed to have a normal life. The United States government does not have any laws or protocols that require agents to give up every part of themselves to serve their country. There is a large misconception that every Secret Service agent is either protecting the President or the Vice President of the United States. There is a range of responsibilities that a Secret Service agent can have.
Are There Different Types of Secret Service Agents?
There are two distinct missions of the Secret Service. The first mission is the Protective Mission which includes protecting the POTUS (President of the United States), the VPOTUS (Vice President of the United States), foreign diplomats, former presidents, heads of state, and so on.
The second mission of the Secret Service is the Investigative Mission which is the investigation of a variety of crimes such as varying types of fraud. Most agents will end up working on the Investigative Mission rather than the Protective Mission.
While these are the main missions, agents can also choose to work undercover details on varying cases. Each mission has varying degrees of commitment level. The Protective Mission requires the largest commitment. While the initial schedule is 60 days on 30 days off, for many agents, the protective unit becomes much more demanding and requires more time away from family. Presidential details especially are very demanding.
The investigative units are much more standard with their work hours and allow for a little more freedom. The signing hours are a standard 40 hour work week with the potential of having to work certain weekends as well. While these are the standard hours, certain investigations may require the agent to work overtime or additional weekends, depending on the case.
This is especially true for agents who are working undercover. The estimate for these hours varies greatly. Some agents may work the standard 40-hour workweek while most others will work longer hours and with varying schedules.
Most agents when they receive their assignment are required to work more hours, depending on the mission or assignment. This is usually noted by having the workweek be 50 hours rather than the standard 40-hour workweek.
What Are the Requirements I Need to Meet to be a Secret Service Agent?
To apply to be a Secret Service agent an individual must have the following criteria:
- Be a United States citizen.
- Be at least 21 years old when applying, but no older than 37 years old at the time of applying. This rule is exempt if the individual has previous law enforcement experience.
- Hold a current and valid driver’s license.
- Have 20/100 vision, correctable to 20/20 vision.
- The individual must previously register with the Selective Service or have a valid reason for why they are exempt.
If an individual meets these basic requirements, they are then required to take a written exam that tests basic cognitive skills and various subjects such as English and mathematics. Once they pass this exam, the individual will then complete a fitness test that involves push-up, sit-ups, pull-ups, and running 1.5 miles. If the applicant completes the fitness test, they are evaluated psychologically and medically. A complete background check is done on the individual as well as close family members and friends. Once the individual has completed all of these steps, they are offered the position and required to report to training.
Can Secret Service Agents Tell Their Families What They Are Working On?
Entering into the Secret Service does not require a vow of secrecy, despite how the name sounds. Agents are not usually working on missions that involve intelligence-gathering or other tasks that would put their identity at risk. Secret Service agents are completely able to tell their friends and family about their jobs.
The one exception to this would be if the agent is working an undercover job. More discretion may be needed for an undercover job to not compromise the mission in any way. It may be fine for the undercover agent to tell their spouse some information regarding their investigation, but it may not be the best option to tell everyone in the neighborhood.
Agents working the protective detail and other investigation cases are given more freedom to tell who they wish. However, many agents elect to keep their profession more personal. They are open to their families about what they do for a living, but many agents will not tell unnecessary individuals about their profession.
Is being a Secret Service Agent a Good Job to Have?
Many agents love their jobs in the Secret Service. For many individuals, this is their way of making the world a better place and taking an active part in the safety of the United States. However, this is not the case in recent years. Many Secret Service agents are asked to work hours far longer than they originally agreed to and with no pay for overtime. A majority of the overload of hours comes from staff shortages across that country.
While criminal activity has remained a constant variable, the number of individuals applying for the job of Secret Service agent is in decline. This is largely due to the long hours with little flexibility. Many people are aware of the demands of being a Secret Service agent, as a simple internist search provides a small window to look into hours or training times. The inability to have a solid work-life balance is a large turn-off for individuals.
On the other hand, being a part of the Secret Service is a great way to make a career for oneself in law enforcement, especially at the federal level. It allows a way to build a career in a way that not many professions offer. It also offers a vast marketing network for both active Secret Service agents and for those who have retired.
Can Secret Service Agents Have a Normal Life?
This question is very dependent on several factors, mainly on what mission the agent is working. If the agent is working on a protective mission, they may not be able to have a “normal life”. They are very much at the mercy of the schedule of the authority figure they are tasked with protection, and this can be anyone from the President to a foreign diplomat. They may also be required to travel across the country on short notice with no tangible information on how long they will be gone. Normal life is largely unattainable for Protective Missions.
If an agent is working on an investigative mission, they can have a more open schedule and can therefore live a life that is considered more normal. However, what is considered more normal for a Secret Service agent is far from normal for everyone else. Much like those on Protective Missions, there could be a need to travel across the country to handle investigations. The hours are long and demanding for many individuals.
Is It Worth It To Become a Secret Service Agent?
Becoming a Secret Service agent is not an easy endeavor. It requires special training and long weeks to prepare to protect some of the most powerful people in the world. Not only will Secret Service agents have to protect leaders, but if they are working on an investigation, they must be ready for anything to happen or for an encounter with anyone.
While at first glance the life of a Secret Service agent may seem doable for anyone, working for federal law enforcement is a demanding job. Working for the Secret Service demands time away from family and long hours both at the office and wherever else in the country that you are needed.
Despite all these details, becoming a Secret Service agent is a rewarding job. In the immediate sense, the agent makes a difference in their community and at a federal level by investigating the criminal activity or protecting world leaders. In the long-term sense, being a Secret Service agent establishes the individual immediately in federal law enforcement and allows for great networking, both with active agents and with retired agents.
The Secret Service is not for the faint of heart, but for many has become the job of a lifetime.
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What is the Training Required to Become a Secret Service Agent?
The hiring process for Secret Service agents is lengthy in and of itself, but that is only the start for becoming a fully trained Secret Service agent. Training for the Secret Service is a rigorous process that begins at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia. Agents will spend 17 weeks here learning the basics of what it takes to become a special agent.
After the 17 weeks are complete, new agents will travel to Washington D.C, where they learn the intricacies of what it means to be a part of the Secret Service and how they perform their job on the micro and macro level.
How Much Do Secret Service Agents Make?
The average Secret Service agent makes a decent salary compared to other occupations. Entry-level agents will make between $36,000 to $45,000 per year. Once the agent becomes established in their area and has completed investigations or has worked on protective detail for some time, the average salary is estimated to be $138,000 to $145,000. The change in salary is attributed to a 25% increase as an agent becomes established. This is also in response to longer hours worked or compensation for weekends.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.