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  • Some Advice?

    I'm currently 18 years old and about to finish up my senior year in high school. I'm interested in eventually working for the Secret Service, so I was hoping to get some advice on what much older, experienced people would recommend to me. I've always been interested in law enforcement and have been particularly attracted to my state agency the past few years, but, as I said, my overall goal is to get into the Secret Service. With that in mind, what would you guys recommend that I do to be a well-qualified candidate? Not sure how valuable the experience is, but I was in a law enforcement class throughout all of my years in high school (except this final semester). I learned a lot. Anyway, should I be more inclined to enlist in the military, particularly the Marine Corps, as Military Police, to get the investigative experience and whatnot for GL-09 qualifications and then perhaps scrap the idea of going into a state agency and immediately applying with the Secret Service as soon as my four years are up, or should I go with applying as a dispatcher, the agency, and then after four years or so, apply at the Secret Service? I believe that would only qualify me for GL-07, but I could be wrong.

    It seems like an obvious answer (the former), but I just wanted to get insight and further advice from some people. Anything at all will be very invaluable to me.

  • #2
    Here are some random thoughts I have from reading your post:

    Generally the things that will set you apart for federal law enforcement are: military experience, investigative experience, graduate degrees, foreign languages, and computer skills. You should aim to have as many of these as you can to be really competitive.

    I noticed you didn’t mention college at all. You should really plan on getting at least a bachelors degree, even if you go local law enforcement. You will need it eventually and doing it now will be easier than doing it ten years from now with kids and a full time job.

    You could do USMC and then use it pay for college or go to college right away, sign up for ROTC (which I believe will pay a decent chunk of college), and then go commissioned. Either way, with college plus military you would still only be 26 when you started applying to law enforcement. That’s not bad. Some people here are ten years older than that and still trying to get in.

    If you go military police, regardless of branch, you should realize there’s probably a good likelihood that you won’t get an investigative role during your first enlistment. So if you were choosing MP solely on that basis, you may want to reconsider and look at other jobs. For instance, some intel MOS’s will send you to language training, which would be more valuable to federal agencies than spending four years checking IDs at a gate.

    Lastly, you should consider being open to more than just USSS. There are several recent threads here which discuss USSS which you should probably read to give yourself a good idea of what life is like working for this agency.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Jwebb514 View Post
      Here are some random thoughts I have from reading your post:

      Generally the things that will set you apart for federal law enforcement are: military experience, investigative experience, graduate degrees, foreign languages, and computer skills. You should aim to have as many of these as you can to be really competitive.

      I noticed you didn’t mention college at all. You should really plan on getting at least a bachelors degree, even if you go local law enforcement. You will need it eventually and doing it now will be easier than doing it ten years from now with kids and a full time job.

      You could do USMC and then use it pay for college or go to college right away, sign up for ROTC (which I believe will pay a decent chunk of college), and then go commissioned. Either way, with college plus military you would still only be 26 when you started applying to law enforcement. That’s not bad. Some people here are ten years older than that and still trying to get in.

      If you go military police, regardless of branch, you should realize there’s probably a good likelihood that you won’t get an investigative role during your first enlistment. So if you were choosing MP solely on that basis, you may want to reconsider and look at other jobs. For instance, some intel MOS’s will send you to language training, which would be more valuable to federal agencies than spending four years checking IDs at a gate.

      Lastly, you should consider being open to more than just USSS. There are several recent threads here which discuss USSS which you should probably read to give yourself a good idea of what life is like working for this agency.
      The reason I didn't mention college is because I haven't particularly been the best at school and haven't enjoyed it much. The only part of high school that I enjoyed was my law enforcement class because it was something I was very interested in - everything else was a bummer, for lack of better words. I definitely have considered it, however, and have leaned towards a few subjects like criminology, psychology, and computer science. Those are all subjects I would enjoy, and, as a result, do well in. If I go the military route, which definitely seems like the better of the two, I would definitely use USMC to pay for it. It would be stupid to pass up on that opportunity.

      That's good to know. I didn't think of choosing MP solely based on the possible investigative experience - I was thinking about it due to my already basic understanding of law enforcement. Based on what you said, however, I'm clearly not as knowledgable on military police because sitting around for four years checking IDs at a gate is something I didn't know about and something that is extremely unappealing to me. I would want to do something that I would not only enjoy, but also make me a better candidate.

      I have a decent understanding of what working with USSS entails due to a lot of research I've done, but I actually haven't seen the recent threads you're talking about. Unoriginally, my interest is in the 1811 position. I'll be sure to see if I can find them and check them out.

      Thank you for your insight, I really appreciate it.
      Last edited by Verminology; 09-27-2019, 01:08 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        ^ What he said. Your HS classes don't matter. Get a degree. Enlist in the military if you want to, but don't enlist thinking that you are going to get any investigative experience. Most MPs do very little roadwork or investigation -- it is a primarily a job of physical security and combat support operations.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by just joe View Post
          ^ What he said. Your HS classes don't matter. Get a degree. Enlist in the military if you want to, but don't enlist thinking that you are going to get any investigative experience. Most MPs do very little roadwork or investigation -- it is a primarily a job of physical security and combat support operations.
          Very useful information from both of you, thank you.

          Would talking to a recruiter and asking questions regarding federal agencies be helpful to find a MOS that would be beneficial to me then?

          Comment


          • #6
            Not to beat a dead horse, but if you want to go federal, get a bachelor's degree. It will greatly increase the amount of opportunities for you in the federal government. Most criminal investigator positions require it.

            I went through college wanting to work for the USSS, and thought it was my dream job, until I actually worked for them. And that isn't saying the USSS is bad, it just wasn't the fit for me. If I didn't have a degree, it would have greatly limited my ability to find my niche in the federal government.

            No recruiter can tell you with any certainty what MOS will benefit you 3-4 years from now when you are applying. If you want to join the Marines, do what interests you in the Marines (if you can). No agency expects you to come out of the military as a trained investigator. That want to see that you learned things like professionalism, work ethic, and dedication.

            Hope this helps.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Verminology View Post

              Very useful information from both of you, thank you.

              Would talking to a recruiter and asking questions regarding federal agencies be helpful to find a MOS that would be beneficial to me then?
              Recruiters are a mixed bag. Some are very good and knowledgeable of MOS'/jobs, others are just looking to meet their numbers. If you do decide to enlist make sure whatever they offered you is in writing, and DO NOT LET THEM FILL OUT YOUR SF QUESTIONNAIRE. A big portion of any sort of investigative work is being personable, respectful, being able to write well, and good communication skills. I don't do criminal investigations, but the same principles/fundamentals apply to any sort of investigative work.

              Regarding USSS, the job is what you make of it. I have a friend who works on the UD side, and is avidly looking to leave. Their 1811 investigations/duties typically involve financial fraud, presidential threats, and protective details.
              Last edited by Levithane; 09-27-2019, 03:30 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Verminology I just sent you a Private Message

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Verminology View Post
                  I'm currently 18 years old and about to finish up my senior year in high school. I'm interested in eventually working for the Secret Service, so I was hoping to get some advice on what much older, experienced people would recommend to me. I've always been interested in law enforcement and have been particularly attracted to my state agency the past few years, but, as I said, my overall goal is to get into the Secret Service. With that in mind, what would you guys recommend that I do to be a well-qualified candidate? Not sure how valuable the experience is, but I was in a law enforcement class throughout all of my years in high school (except this final semester). I learned a lot. Anyway, should I be more inclined to enlist in the military, particularly the Marine Corps, as Military Police, to get the investigative experience and whatnot for GL-09 qualifications and then perhaps scrap the idea of going into a state agency and immediately applying with the Secret Service as soon as my four years are up, or should I go with applying as a dispatcher, the agency, and then after four years or so, apply at the Secret Service? I believe that would only qualify me for GL-07, but I could be wrong.

                  It seems like an obvious answer (the former), but I just wanted to get insight and further advice from some people. Anything at all will be very invaluable to me.
                  Most 1811 (special agent / criminal investigators) jobs requires a 4 year college degree. I only personally know of one person who got hired on with HUD as an 1811 and did not have a degree but he knew someone and was already working as a federal air marshal at the time when he was hired.

                  If you want to get into federal law enforcement (criminal investigator) you will need a degree. There are other federal law enforcement jobs that do not require a degree and they are normally uniformed positions. You could try to get your foot in the door as a federal correctional officer with the BOP (Bureau of Prisons). You can try to get on with CPB as an officer or a border patrol agent. The VA (Veterans Administration) police hires from time to time. You may also try enlisting in the Army reserve or Air Force reserve as a MP/SP (military police / security police) to boost your resume.

                  Good luck. The Border Patrol and CBP are doing a mass hiring right now and the job announcements close in a few days 9/30/2019 so you better apply for those. (I am not sure if you have to be either 18 or 21 to enter federal law enforcement)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by P.K. Highsmith View Post
                    Not to beat a dead horse, but if you want to go federal, get a bachelor's degree. It will greatly increase the amount of opportunities for you in the federal government. Most criminal investigator positions require it.

                    I went through college wanting to work for the USSS, and thought it was my dream job, until I actually worked for them. And that isn't saying the USSS is bad, it just wasn't the fit for me. If I didn't have a degree, it would have greatly limited my ability to find my niche in the federal government.

                    No recruiter can tell you with any certainty what MOS will benefit you 3-4 years from now when you are applying. If you want to join the Marines, do what interests you in the Marines (if you can). No agency expects you to come out of the military as a trained investigator. That want to see that you learned things like professionalism, work ethic, and dedication.

                    Hope this helps.
                    I very quickly learned just from this thread that a bachelor's degree is ideal. I obviously knew about it doing research, but the responses I have gotten has really ingrained that.

                    Great to hear about the experience of somebody who was also interested in working for the USSS. I've heard and read many mixed feelings towards working for them. What didn't sit right with you after you got the job and how disappointing was it after going through such a long and grueling process? Just curious.

                    That's a very good point that military experience is sought after not because of the idea of serving the country specifically, but more-so what kind of person you become because of it. I hadn't thought about it like that before.


                    Originally posted by Levithane View Post

                    Recruiters are a mixed bag. Some are very good and knowledgeable of MOS'/jobs, others are just looking to meet their numbers. If you do decide to enlist make sure whatever they offered you is in writing, and DO NOT LET THEM FILL OUT YOUR SF QUESTIONNAIRE. A big portion of any sort of investigative work is being personable, respectful, being able to write well, and good communication skills. I don't do criminal investigations, but the same principles/fundamentals apply to any sort of investigative work.

                    Regarding USSS, the job is what you make of it. I have a friend who works on the UD side, and is avidly looking to leave. Their 1811 investigations/duties typically involve financial fraud, presidential threats, and protective details.
                    I've heard that multiple times for sure. You can never really be certain about a recruiter's intentions. Thank you for the advice about filling the SF questionnaire out myself - that'll be useful should I decide to go the military route.

                    I love the idea of investigations, but it's hard to not also be attracted to the protective side of things.


                    Originally posted by pissedoff View Post

                    Most 1811 (special agent / criminal investigators) jobs requires a 4 year college degree. I only personally know of one person who got hired on with HUD as an 1811 and did not have a degree but he knew someone and was already working as a federal air marshal at the time when he was hired.

                    If you want to get into federal law enforcement (criminal investigator) you will need a degree. There are other federal law enforcement jobs that do not require a degree and they are normally uniformed positions. You could try to get your foot in the door as a federal correctional officer with the BOP (Bureau of Prisons). You can try to get on with CPB as an officer or a border patrol agent. The VA (Veterans Administration) police hires from time to time. You may also try enlisting in the Army reserve or Air Force reserve as a MP/SP (military police / security police) to boost your resume.

                    Good luck. The Border Patrol and CBP are doing a mass hiring right now and the job announcements close in a few days 9/30/2019 so you better apply for those. (I am not sure if you have to be either 18 or 21 to enter federal law enforcement)
                    Connections are definitely important, I'm sure, especially if you're in a situation like the person you mentioned was in. I, personally, much prefer working for things to get where I need to be. Nothing against people with connections as long as you have worked for it in some way and can pull your own weight and not always rely on other people.

                    I'm actually thinking about applying for a Border Patrol Agent now. I was literally sent a private message and I absolutely had no idea about it. It seems like you can get in at 19 which I love. Local agencies barely have that sort of minimum age requirement and this is the first I've heard of a federal agency having it. I'm seriously considering that position now and I started researching it. Reserves have also been something I've thought about, but I've never really been able to find out information about how well it could be received on a resume as opposed to active duty. I just have never been sure if you're still as competitive if you were just in Reserves.

                    --

                    Thank you to all of you for your advice and feedback. I really do appreciate every single one of you. I've learned a lot so far!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm going to go against the grain of other comments. You do not necessarily need a degree for 1811 jobs. While that is subjective, statements above that those jobs require a degree are objectively false. Against common misconceptions, here are agencies that do NOT require a degree: USSS, HSI, DEA, ATF, NCIS, Nearly every single OIG, USFS, BLM, BIA, AFOSI, USMS, Army CID, CGIS. The list is much longer than that. That's just the first ones that come to mind. Now realistically, you have a slim to none chance of getting picked up for NCIS without one, but they do not require one.

                      I received two 1811 offers at the same with nothing other than a good, diverse BP resume, and nothing else. No degree, no vet status. I continue to advance and receive offers elsewhere without a degree or vet status.

                      A degree has value and I am sure I would have received other offers if I had one. I'm in school full time to get one because I have USPIS in my sights and they have a hard requirement for it.

                      My recommendation is go border patrol. Greatest show on Earth, low requirements and you can start your covered retirement clock now, and make 100k doing it. Get your degree online while you're in, or don't and turn out fine like me. Having a TS and federal clearance and experience, four years of it at 22 is better than being 22 with a fresh degree and nothing else in my opinion. But conversely, USSS, an agency you mentioned, will gladly hire a college graduate with a financial degree and no experience from what I've seen by sharing a CITP class with them.
                      UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL
                      "90 years of tradition unhindered by progress!"


                      honor first

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by battlewagon View Post
                        I'm going to go against the grain of other comments. You do not necessarily need a degree for 1811 jobs. While that is subjective, statements above that those jobs require a degree are objectively false. Against common misconceptions, here are agencies that do NOT require a degree: USSS, HSI, DEA, ATF, NCIS, Nearly every single OIG, USFS, BLM, BIA, AFOSI, USMS, Army CID, CGIS. The list is much longer than that. That's just the first ones that come to mind. Now realistically, you have a slim to none chance of getting picked up for NCIS without one, but they do not require one.

                        I received two 1811 offers at the same with nothing other than a good, diverse BP resume, and nothing else. No degree, no vet status. I continue to advance and receive offers elsewhere without a degree or vet status.

                        A degree has value and I am sure I would have received other offers if I had one. I'm in school full time to get one because I have USPIS in my sights and they have a hard requirement for it.

                        My recommendation is go border patrol. Greatest show on Earth, low requirements and you can start your covered retirement clock now, and make 100k doing it. Get your degree online while you're in, or don't and turn out fine like me. Having a TS and federal clearance and experience, four years of it at 22 is better than being 22 with a fresh degree and nothing else in my opinion. But conversely, USSS, an agency you mentioned, will gladly hire a college graduate with a financial degree and no experience from what I've seen by sharing a CITP class with them.
                        More great feedback, thank you.

                        It's somewhat relieving to know how well you have done without military experience or a degree. If I'm able to start a federal law enforcement career at the age of 19, then I see absolutely no reason not to do just that. You made some very good points that being 22 with clearance and federal experience is a lot better than being 22 with just a degree. Speaking of which, what sort of clearance does a Border Patrol agent have? I saw you put "TS," but I'm not sure if you meant Top Secret because you said "TS and federal clearance." I might just need to work on my reading comprehension skills, but clarification would be much appreciated.

                        Federal is a broader goal that I've had but I've just always narrowed in on the USSS because that would be my ideal career. I actually have seen a lot on the application process thread that people with a financial degree have made it through the process faster and that's really surprising to me. Also very odd. It was a pattern I picked up on and didn't fully understand it.

                        Comment


                        • jwnagle
                          jwnagle commented
                          Editing a comment
                          That announcement date is irrelevant so you know. They post a new one every single month.

                        • jwnagle
                          jwnagle commented
                          Editing a comment
                          The USSS was part of Treasury until DHS came along. A lot of their leadership and doctrine come from that era hence the degree preference.

                        • battlewagon
                          battlewagon commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Why is it suprising or very odd. USSS is a financial crime and protection oriented agency. So if you have a financial degree, that is in their wheelhouse. It is the single highest qualification you can hold for their application process.

                        • Verminology
                          Verminology commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Not odd due to the degree specifically, it makes perfect sense. I just meant that it was a little surprising that it was so significant in trumping other applicants. I saw somebody in the hiring thread get pushed incredibly fast through the process, passing someone that had military experience. Demand for that degree is very sought after but there's no way I could ever succeed in getting that sort of degree.

                      • #13
                        Many folks have been in your shoes. When I graduated HS, I could not focus on college and bombed classes. I was not a great student and did not have the drive for it. I signed up and did 5yrs in the Army. Best decision I ever made. I took free college classes while I was on active duty and CLEPed out of a bunch more. By the time my 5yrs was up, I was half done with a BS degree in CJ. I used my GI Bill to cover the rest of it. For me, after the Army I was laser-focused on college. I did not have that focus before, but the Army has a way of maturing you. It allowed me to see the big picture that nothing was impossible. Now I have great Veterans benefits for the rest of my life and Veterans Preference to apply for federal jobs. Even for jobs that require no Veterans Preference, many agencies are actively trying to hire Vets to meet those quotas. You will not go wrong with military service.

                        I finished my BS degree and it has been immensely helpful for securing federal job offers, but it's really just a piece of paper with your name on it. It allows you one more thing on your resume to make you stand out over the next candidate. The best and only thing I took from college is the ability to write well. As a Fed, you will do a TON of writing and I cannot tell you how many Feds I have seen who are so bad at it. You may be the best investigator in the world, but if you cannot intelligently articulate it in a report you are worthless.

                        You are also very specific that you want USSS and/or USMC. Do not box yourself in. Do yourself a favor and explore what is out there. If I had it to do over again, I would probably consider the Air Force over Army as an example, but I had no one to help guide me. I have worked for three Fed LE agencies. Feel free to PM me if you hve any questions

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          The Air Force does have enlisted criminal investigators, not sure if you have to come up through security forces or if you can try and get that MOS directly? The AFOSI guy that I sometimes work with is enlisted and he supervises a civilian agent.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by wildstar82 View Post
                            Many folks have been in your shoes. When I graduated HS, I could not focus on college and bombed classes. I was not a great student and did not have the drive for it. I signed up and did 5yrs in the Army. Best decision I ever made. I took free college classes while I was on active duty and CLEPed out of a bunch more. By the time my 5yrs was up, I was half done with a BS degree in CJ. I used my GI Bill to cover the rest of it. For me, after the Army I was laser-focused on college. I did not have that focus before, but the Army has a way of maturing you. It allowed me to see the big picture that nothing was impossible. Now I have great Veterans benefits for the rest of my life and Veterans Preference to apply for federal jobs. Even for jobs that require no Veterans Preference, many agencies are actively trying to hire Vets to meet those quotas. You will not go wrong with military service.

                            I finished my BS degree and it has been immensely helpful for securing federal job offers, but it's really just a piece of paper with your name on it. It allows you one more thing on your resume to make you stand out over the next candidate. The best and only thing I took from college is the ability to write well. As a Fed, you will do a TON of writing and I cannot tell you how many Feds I have seen who are so bad at it. You may be the best investigator in the world, but if you cannot intelligently articulate it in a report you are worthless.

                            You are also very specific that you want USSS and/or USMC. Do not box yourself in. Do yourself a favor and explore what is out there. If I had it to do over again, I would probably consider the Air Force over Army as an example, but I had no one to help guide me. I have worked for three Fed LE agencies. Feel free to PM me if you hve any questions
                            School has always been a constant struggle for me. I have never enjoyed it and would always look forward to the day being over. The only class I genuinely loved and enjoyed was my law enforcement class. Overall, I performed a lot more poorly than I know I could have. I used to be a great student but moving from my original state and to one with a much poorer education system, I was demotivated and only put in a quarter of the effort I could have. I continue to regret that decision, but the past is the past. You can't change it. Thank you for the military insight with almost identical experience to mine. It feels good to know that I'm not alone in that regard. You really can't beat free college classes. I've always said that if I ever do enlist, I would be stupid to pass up the opportunity of free education.

                            You definitely sound like a good candidate having both military experience and a BS. It makes sense that you have been able to secure a lot more federal job offers than most. I've always loved writing and have always tried my best to write and talk well. I sometimes struggle with the latter due to annunciation issues due to an accent, but for the most part, I feel like I'm a pretty good speaker.

                            You're not wrong about me essentially boxing myself in with the USMC and the USSS. That's sometimes a problem for me and one that I've been trying to overcome. Whenever I want something specific, I try my hardest to succeed, but I know that isn't always possible and I should be way more open to other things. Working in federal has always been a goal of mine, so I don't feel like it would be the end of the world if I didn't get into the USSS. It would undoubtedly be a bummer, though.


                            Originally posted by hawaiitexas View Post
                            The Air Force does have enlisted criminal investigators, not sure if you have to come up through security forces or if you can try and get that MOS directly? The AFOSI guy that I sometimes work with is enlisted and he supervises a civilian agent.
                            Good to know. I'll do some research on that. Thank you!

                            Comment

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