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Diplomatic Security Agent with the Department of State


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  • Diplomatic Security Agent with the Department of State

    Hey y’all I hope your doing well! I am currently in high school and a Police Explorer. I have some questions about the career of a Diplomatic Security Agent and the lifestyle. My first question is what sort of physical goals should I be setting for myself for this and what things should I be doing or getting to set myself apart from other people. Also what sort of things will I be doing and what will the I guess deployments to other countries be like. Is this a realistic goal of mine to do this right out of college. I’ve thought about joining the Army but this interests me more and if I have to I have pretty much an opening at my local PD for when I graduate college (still in high school) from police explorers. Id love to hear from anyone about this and any tips you have for me I’ve done my best to research it but it’s hard to find things on it.


  • #2
    Check out the book Agents Unknown by Cody Perron, it may answer some of your questions. If DSS is your goal, I’d look into joining the Marine Corps and get into MSG. MSG and DSS work together in embassies all over the world. However, being a cop at the local level gives you experience you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Biggest thing is keep you nose clean, hang around good people, get a degree in computers and you should be good.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Charles Vick View Post
      My first question is what sort of physical goals should I be setting for myself for this and what things should I be doing or getting to set myself apart from other people.
      If you plan on joining the military or any type of LE, the better shape you are in, the better off you will be. I would lean more towards muscular endurance, cardio, and flexibility. Being able to put up big numbers on the bench, squat, or deadlift is cool and can be very valuable, but if you're exhausted within the first 30 sec of academy PT or chasing/subduing a subject, you arent much good to yourself or your partners/teammates at that point. The guys Ive seen that stand out in academies or the military are guys with motors that just wont quit. Its easy to say "I'll never quit", but if you aren't in shape, the body will eventually quit for you.

      As an add-on, if you dont already, take up training martial arts that actually put you in uncomfortable grappling senerios (wrestling, judo, BJJ, MMA). While also helping your muscular endurance and cardio, they give you a mental endurance and fighter's mindset for when the defication hits the oscillation. No one is expecting you to be Royce Gracie, but its noticable when a guy has never trained or been in a fight before.

      Originally posted by Charles Vick View Post
      Is this a realistic goal of mine to do this right out of college.
      Becoming a DSS Agent right out of college with no military or LE experience? Probably doubtful for open public annoucements but possible I guess if they put out a Pathways or Recent Grad announcement.

      Originally posted by Charles Vick View Post
      I’ve thought about joining the Army but this interests me more and if I have to I have pretty much an opening at my local PD for when I graduate college (still in high school) from police explorers.
      I agree with the other poster about MSG. If you are really interested in DSS but want to join the military first, joining the Marine Corps and volunteering for MSG duty will probably get you as close as you can get. You would get some valuable hands-on experience and make lots of contacts out there. Another option is working Military Intel. Either way, I would still persue higher education and at least get your BA/BS. The degree wont necessarily make you "smarter" than anyone, but it will help your communication skills (orally and writing). Not sure if DSs requires it but most guys you will be competing against for this job with at least have their BA/BS, so might as well.


      • Charles Vick
        Charles Vick commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for your input. I’ve been digging around and going through YouTube videos and it sounds like what I can do is get a internship in college with the Department of State and then I do 2 internships and then right after college (once I get my bachelors) I can start the very long application process (from what I’ve seen it’s like 9 months to 2 years). Do you have any suggestions on things I could look into while waiting and going through the process. I guess what I’m sort of getting at is I’d rather be an agent after college then go into the Military. I’ve done a ton of research on being an Officer in the Army and this draws me more.
        Also my explorer post has incorporated a lot of things like Officer survival and fighting but I’ll still see if there’s a gym I can learn at.

    • #4
      You aren’t getting into DSS with just college.
      Now go home and get your shine box!


      • #5
        Internships can be very competitive, so Id keep my options open to other LE agencies outside of the State Dept in case you dont get a spot. An internship with NCIS, FBI, or DHS can also be beneficial.

        Also, think about the job before THE JOB. Most of us dont land our dream job directly out of college or the military. There is usually a job or two (or several) you end up working while you build your resume, experience, work history, etc. Think about other jobs in LE, intel, computers, or whatever you are interested in that you can get hired on with directly out of college and can build your work history and resume while you are moving along the hiring process. Like you acknowledged, the process could take years and that's IF you are hired the first time you apply. Some guys have to end up reapplying for years while they build their resumes.

        If you'd rather be an agent than join the military after college, then you should definitely persue that. Military service can be a great experience and helpful on a resume, but its not required to get hired. If your heart's not into the military, then dont join and persue your ideal job. Nothing wrong with that.

        Also, my comment about martial arts was not meant for anyone to think that you need to be some MMA-type to be successful at LE. If you are learning officer survival techniques, thats great. Some grappling experience can definitely enhance your officer survival skills.
        Last edited by 5149.5; 06-05-2020, 11:48 AM.


        • #6
          It is pretty refreshing too see someone researching and asking for thoughts early in life.

          A lot of the comments have been extremely sound and filled with good advice.

          I will echo going the MSG route. I know many DS agents who are former MSGs, and that experience allows you get a taste of the overseas DS portfolio. If you are located near a large city with a DS field office, I would do two things. 1) Give a call to that field office and try to get ahold of the agent that assists recruitment. Try to get coffee with that agent and pick his/her brain and experiences. 2) Apply for the State Dept Internship and try to get slated into the DS internship.https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/569284400.

          Best of luck!


          • Charles Vick
            Charles Vick commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you I will actually try to see if I can go get coffee with an agent. I also am considering maybe being a patrol officer for a little while after college and then starting the application process while as an officer. What’s your thoughts on that?

          • Shadowtrain
            Shadowtrain commented
            Editing a comment
            charles Vick
            You can't go wrong with any type of experience as long as you can articulate what you've done. The Diplomat in Residence - Northwest did a video thing a few weeks back interviewing some DS Agents.https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=695761141184951

            As with any federal law enforcement gig, the best thing to do is live your life, apply to things that interest you, and wait for them to process you. Unfortunately, like other agencies, DS can take forever to process.

        • #7
          I was a DS agent for five years, posted domestically and overseas, before leaving for another agency. In that time, I can recall working with just one or two agents who were hired right out of college. They were both immature, entitled, and brought no real-world experience to the job.

          Forget trying to go that route. Get your bachelor's degree, become a local cop, and get some experience dealing with people from all walks of life in high-stress situations. DS looks favorably on military service, but you should never join the military solely because you think it will be a path to one specific job.

          In my experience, DS holds the following skills/abilities in high regard when it comes to hiring (in no particular order):
          • Experience leading/managing subordinates
          • Understanding of budgets and logistics
          • Written communication
          • Critical/analytical thinking
          • Foreign language
          • Experience negotiating/mediating between disputing parties and finding mutually beneficial outcomes (the diplomacy in DS)
          Pursue educational and career fields that will help you develop these skills and experiences. Local law enforcement is a good option, of course, but not the only one. DS hires people from an incredibly wide variety of professional backgrounds (moreso than just about any other fed LE agency, in my opinion).


          • Charles Vick
            Charles Vick commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you so much for your info! If you don’t mind me asking what we’re the overseas deployments like and how long were they. Thanks once again!

        • #8
          You won't get in with a bachelor's only, but I've heard of them taking people with international relations Master's degrees and a critical need foreign language fluency out of grad school. Totally agree with DoubleHaul that you shouldn't just join the military because it may help you get hired. There are many routes to get hired, especially by DS if that's what you're set on. Do what route makes sense for you and your family/loved ones.


          • #9
            Charles Vick I like that you are hungry and trying to educate yourself prior to big life decisions. I lurk more than I post but figured id try to give you some insight from personal experience.

            A few other members have already commented but ill second (or third?) this. DO NOT join the Marine Corps to get a better shot at joining DS. It isnt a quick way in and there is no secret handshake you learn or magical key to get you in. You will only end up miserable or disgruntled if you join for anything other than wanting to be a Marine.

            I have several years of USMC experience both active and reserve, Masters degree, Dept of State internship, several years of experience as a special agent and still didnt get picked up by DS. I did not get selected at my last BEX missing it by a few points (2018) and believe it or not I know for a fact they selected a guy straight out of college.

            Every case is different and from working with numerous DS agents the whole person concept seems to be the key solution to getting in. Ill defer to DoubleHaul to speak for that as im an outsider. Best of luck, really any route you choose can get you to the desired goal, dont get discouraged with this thread, unfortunately it is reality. Getting any 1811 position is difficult let alone trying to get into DS... i have been trying for 10 years to get into DS.


            • #10
              Charles Vick It's tough to describe what a typical overseas posting is like because the experience can differ so much depending on the country. Overseas tours can be be anywhere from one year at high threat posts like Baghdad and Kabul, two years as a first-time ARSO, or three years as an RSO in certain countries in Europe, Asia and South America.

              Keep in mind that your first tour will be two years at a domestic field office, with almost no exceptions. On rare occasions they will recruit people out of basic agent training to join the Secretary's Detail or Mobile Security Deployments if they are really hurting for bodies. It is unlikely that you will go overseas on your second tour unless you bid on a high threat post (one-year tour) or one of the smaller posts in Africa. I was fortunate to get a somewhat desirable overseas posting in Latin America on my second tour, but at the time it was an unaccompanied post (no family members), so that helped my cause. Outside of those types of assignments, most DS agents do their second tour on SD, MSD, or a headquarters office.

              One nice thing about DS is that they are constantly offering temporary duty (TDY) assignments for agents posted stateside, including new agents. So, just a few months out of training, you might find yourself doing advances on the Secretary's Detail or a 60-day TDY to Iraq. These are great experiences to have when bidding on an overseas post.

              I won't get into too much detail, but your experience overseas is entirely dependent on mission leadership and your DS supervisors (usually the RSO, sometimes a deputy RSO if you're at a big embassy). If the chief of mission buys into the DS programs at post, it will be a good work environment. If not, then RSO work can quickly become frustrating as other embassy offices/agencies constantly question the need for certain security directives/programs.

              In any case, you've got a long ways to go before you have to worry about any of this, but feel free to PM me if you have any more specific questions. As Attila can attest, the DS hiring process is anything but certain. There are no magic boxes to check. I personally know of several people who had what I considered to be ideal resumes who didn't make it through the BEX process, and others who made it through who, in my opinion, had no business being a federal agent.


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