Diplomatic Security Foreign Service Special Agent (SA) (FP-2501-06)

Montevideo, D.C
Dec 01, 2020
Dec 08, 2020
IT, Security Engineer
Full Time


This is a 2501 Foreign Service position equivalent to the 1811 CS Series.

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 .

Learn more about this agency


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 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. DS SAs investigate passport, visa, and document fraud, as well as federal crimes in the Special Territorial and Maritime Jurisdiction.

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 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 background investigations, criminal investigations, counterintelligence and counter-terrorism inquiries, and investigative work preparing for court appearances, and testifying in court and other legal proceedings.
  • Conducting or implementing programs involved with safeguarding classified and sensitive information and materials, as derived from Presidential Directives or Executive Orders.
  • Assessing physical security threats against U.S. interests, properties, systems, and other diplomatic installations and personnel abroad, as well as investigating actual or potential 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.
  • Responding to emergency situations, which may include the use of firearms, defensive tactics, and medical procedures.
  • Communicating and coordinating with others in Diplomatic Security, the Department of State, other government agencies, local and foreign security and law enforcement, non-government agencies, and the American public overseas, including cultivating and maintaining contacts.
  • Preparing and reviewing written documents, attending meetings, delivering briefings, making recommendations, answering questions, and participating on committees and task forces.
  • Performing managerial work such as determining staffing requirements, assigning work, monitoring and supervising, evaluating performance, resolving complaints, procuring supplies and services, budgeting, maintaining internal controls, and other administrative tasks.
  • Keeping informed of current events, updating knowledge and skills, and maintaining mental and physical fitness to do the job.

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, which is about half a typical career, SAs serve as security program managers at U.S. diplomatic or consular posts. At Foreign Service (FS) posts, DS 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. Diplomatic Security also conducts overseas investigations for the Department of State and other federal agencies. DS RSOs are assigned regional responsibilities, and may serve FS posts in several countries, which may require frequent travel.

Travel Required

50% or less - A SA generally may spend more than half of his/her career assigned to our overseas missions and at times, live away from family and/or in difficult or isolated conditions.

Supervisory status

Promotion Potential


Conditions of Employment

  • Be a U.S. citizen and available for worldwide service.*
  • At least 20 years old and not older than 36 years old.**
  • Fit for physical exertion and pass a preemployment physical readiness test.
  • Able to obtain/maintain a Top Secret Security Clearance and TS/SCI access.
  • Able to obtain an appropriate Foreign Service Medical Clearance.
  • Able to obtain a favorable Suitability Review Panel determination.***
  • Able to testify in court.

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.

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.


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 will be preferred who have basic knowledge of security principles and procedures (e.g., for investigations, protection, public events, etc.), basic knowledge of management (e.g., supervision, initiative and leadership, teamwork, etc.), English skills (e.g., writing, speaking, listening, etc.), conceptual skills (e.g., planning and organizing, critical thinking, active learning, judgment, etc.), social skills (e.g., perceptiveness, persuasion, working with others, cultural adaptability, objectivity and integrity, etc.), and related background (e.g., education, work, and cross-cultural experiences, etc.).

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 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. 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 may be changed in the future.

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. Agent must also endure long or unusual hours, inclement weather, lack of sleep, rest, or meals, jet-lag, 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. 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 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 possessing 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.

You will be required to submit a copy of your undergraduate college/university transcript(s) if you are successful in the online examination. If you do not submit this documentation to demonstrate your educational achievements, your application package will be deemed incomplete.

You must submit either official or unofficial undergraduate transcripts with your online application. Your transcript must be complete (partial, or incomplete transcripts are not accepted) and include your name, the school's name, and the degree and date awarded. A transcript missing any of these elements will not pass the minimum qualifications and the candidacy will be ended. Academic records and copies of diplomas may not be submitted in lieu of transcripts for education above high school level.

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.

NACES: www.naces.org/members

AICE: www.aice-eval.org/members

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.

OPM: www.opm.gov

U.S. Department of Education: http://www.ed.gov

Additional information

*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 FSS Selection Process, please visit: http://careers.state.gov/faqs/faqs-wiki/are-veterans-given-hiring-preference- .

***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.

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 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 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 advise the Department at ReasonableAccommodations@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.

How You Will Be Evaluated

You will be evaluated for this job based on how well you meet the qualifications above.

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.


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, Special Agents 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 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 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. All special agents are required to take this course and complete a refresher course every five years.

To preview questions please click here .

Background checks and security clearance

Security clearance
Top Secret

Drug test required

Required Documents

Applicants are responsible for ensuring they uploaded all required documents and their 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. Only those documents that have been uploaded will be considered. Please note that we cannot accept any documentation after the closing date.

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

1. A detailed resume.

2. A current completed, signed, and dated Minimum Qualifications Checklist . A Minimum Qualifications Checklist from a prior announcement will not be accepted.

3. Online completion of the Accomplishments Questionnaire and Statement of Interest.

4. A current, dated, completed, and signed DSS Physical Readiness Test (PRT) Self Certification Evaluation Form . The PRT evaluation form MUST be completed in the opening period of the announcement and submitted prior to the announcement close date. Outdated PRT forms will not be accepted. PRT forms from other agencies will not be accepted, either.

5. A complete copy of university transcript(s). Official or unofficial transcripts may be submitted. Your transcript must include your name, the school's name and the degree and date awarded. A transcript missing any of these elements will not pass the minimum qualifications and the candidacy will be ended. For example, a transcript that only includes a school website without the full name of the school will not be accepted. A partial transcript will not be accepted. Copies of diplomas or academic records may not be submitted in lieu of transcripts. Please refer to the Education Requirements section for more information.

6. 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 Certification of Service (if claiming 5 or 10 point preference).
  • VA Disability Rating and Standard Form 15 (if claiming 10 point preference only) in addition to your DD-214 or Certification of service.

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).

A Certification must be from the armed forces that certifies 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.

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

If you are relying on your education to meet qualification requirements:

Education must be accredited by an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in order for it to be credited towards qualifications. Therefore, provide only the attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education .

Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in this vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.

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