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  • Federal employment

    Hey guys,
    I’m looking to make a jump from local law enforcement to federal possibly. I’m a veteran with 2 deployments as a light infantry team leader/ squad leader. Bachelors degree where I graduated Magna Cum Laude in Behavioral Sciences. Have 3 years of local law enforcement experience in a 400 man department with several awards already. I’m looking to start a masters program soon in management (easier MBA alternative). I have looked into several agencies and want to know if anybody has any advice to break into the fed law enforcement?
    thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Hopeful_vet; 11-06-2020, 02:59 PM.

  • #2
    Apply broadly to "covered" federal law enforcement positions. If you are geographically mobile, that will help you. If you limit yourself to just one state or region, it could be awhile before you see vacancies that you want or are qualified for. How old are you currently? Having veteran status should help you a bit. There are some positions that veterans can apply to, but which aren't open to members of the public.

    Also would recommend that you be patient. Starting at age 32, I tried off and on for two years before obtaining a federal law enforcement offer. I applied to virtually every covered position I could find -- BoP, BIA, USPP, USMS, IRS CID, various OIGs, and a number of US Probation Offices. I was starting to get worried about aging out, and was looking seriously at becoming a BoP CO to stop the clock.

    Comment


    • #3
      You have a good background, so you shouldn't have issues getting into the hiring process. I started with the BOP and went from there. Definitely wasn't my first choice, but they hire quickly and the experience was good. It just depends on what you want from your career.

      From my experience, the fastest and most reliable hiring processes tend to be BOP, CBP, BP, USSS, and FBI.

      Comment


      • nonotnow
        nonotnow commented
        Editing a comment
        Unfortunately cbp has slowed way down. Almost 1.5 to 2 years now due to poly backed up.

      • Exbpa340
        Exbpa340 commented
        Editing a comment
        The Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has slowed everything down.

        Here is my oldest son’s timeline..(and a very good path for any young lad interested in this kind of work).

        He put himself through college while working part time at TSA from 18 - 22. He finished an AS and BS without incurring any debt/student loans. About 3.5 months after he graduated he EOD with BP (May 2019). He was already in the process before he graduated college (actually turning down the position a couple of times). He was able to score a better than average station. He then graduated from the BP academy at the end of October 2019. Applied to ICE in January of 2020. Received a TSL for ICE in March of 2020 and EOD with ICE at the end of August. About two weeks ago he completed the ICE transition course for BPAs and CBPOs. He’s only 24 and already has about 4 years of FERS time (the TSA time was part time) of which 1.5 years is covered. For Leave purposes he’s already over 6 years.
        Last edited by OfficerDotCom; 11-09-2020, 11:06 AM.

    • #4
      Originally posted by Hopeful_vet View Post
      Hey guys,
      I’m looking to make a jump from local law enforcement to federal possibly. I’m a veteran with 2 deployments as a light infantry team leader/ squad leader. Bachelors degree where I graduated Magna Cum Laude in Behavioral Sciences. Have 3 years of local law enforcement experience in a 400 man department with several awards already. I’m looking to start a masters program soon in management (easier MBA alternative). I have looked into several agencies and want to know if anybody has any advice to break into the fed law enforcement?
      thanks in advance.
      A lot depends on personal preference of the kind of work you want to do. In my opinion the two best entry level covered positions in the federal government are Border Patrol Agent and Customs and Border Protection Officer. Each position is constantly hiring. They both receive the FERS covered retirement. They both top at GS 12 (which is better than most Federal LEO positions). BPAs get a premium pay (BPAPRA) that adds 25 percent pay (for an additional 2 hours work daily). Premium pay for federal LEOs are considered basic pay for retirement calculations (included in high three) and for TSP matching. CBPOs receive COPRA for any overtime (double time) and a percentage (50) up to the OT limit (45K) counts toward retirement. Many are content in doing careers in these two agencies.

      There are better Federal LEO gigs than these two but those tend to be more competitive and more difficult to land. There are many other positions across the federal government that, in my opinion, are much less desirable. Most do not receive the covered LEO retirement (big deal) and many/most top out at grades below GS 12.


      Here are a couple of links where I discussed positions, pay and benefits..

      https://forum.officer.com/forum/loca...ns#post6824279

      https://forum.officer.com/forum/publ...ns#post6601084
      “Right now I'm having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.” - Steven Wright

      US Army MP (95B) 1992-1997
      DOJ Agent/ DHS Officer 1997 to Present

      Comment


      • #5
        Advice to break into almost all federal employment- figure out how to use USAjobs.gov. By that I mean what makes sense to do and what doesn't. How to answer questions, write or build a resume, setup a search, how often to search etc. Until you figure that out your qualifications won't mean much. Best to have a mentor who has applied for many positions and been hired more than once to see what works and what doesn't.

        I say almost all because some federal positions aren't hired through USAjobs.

        That said, your background sounds decent and you are probably good to go if you are patient. A lot depends on what you want to do. Just saying make the jump to federal law enforcement isn't too specific so it's hard to provide specific guidance. There is a lot of variation under the umbrella of federal law enforcement. As a veteran, getting into a covered position asap shouldn't be a big concern for you because your status allows you to start that clock after 37 for many agencies.

        Comment


        • Winter_Patriot
          Winter_Patriot commented
          Editing a comment
          Great advice here. You could be the most qualified applicant in the world, but if you don't know how to navigate USAJobs, you'll never get referred to the hiring manager. There's an art to writing your resume, cover letter, and answering the USAJobs qualification questions in a way that gets your rated as highly/best qualified.

          The sooner the you narrow down your preferred job options, the easier it will be to work up your resume and application. You should read the vacancy announcement and the questionnaire and find a way to touch on each of those points in your resume/letter.

          In my first year of job searching through USAJobs and the US Courts website, I had zero interviews. I started getting more diligent about learning USAJobs and improving my resume. In my second year of the federal job search, I had something like a dozen interviews out of 75+ applications.
          Last edited by Winter_Patriot; 11-16-2020, 11:22 AM.

      • #6
        Originally posted by Camelbak View Post
        You have a good background, so you shouldn't have issues getting into the hiring process. I started with the BOP and went from there. Definitely wasn't my first choice, but they hire quickly and the experience was good. It just depends on what you want from your career.

        From my experience, the fastest and most reliable hiring processes tend to be BOP, CBP, BP, USSS, and FBI.
        Maybe they're reliable with the SA applications, but they are terribly slow when it comes to the IA process. I tested for IA back in July, and said they would have test scores by August or September due to covid. Still have not gotten any sort of response, or test score as of current.

        Comment


        • Camelbak
          Camelbak commented
          Editing a comment
          I imagine things are slow due to Covid-19, but their SA process was extremely efficient when I applied. I went from applying all the way to the PFT within six months.

        • 9L81
          9L81 commented
          Editing a comment
          To be fair he said from his experience the fastest and most reliable. There is little hiring done in the federal govt that anyone would consider fast.

          My current position took 845 days from application closing to my first day on. It took over a year to find out if I passed the interview. I didn't create any of the delays in that time frame.

        • Levithane
          Levithane commented
          Editing a comment
          9L81 Yeah I get that anything federal takes awhile. Im just talking about a simple test score though, the bureau has been horrendously slow just to grade an automated test. Another agency I re-applied to has processed my stuff fairly quick (passed PT, and got a COL). Meanwhile my friend who applied through a different FO for the same agency hasn't heard a word since re-applying/re-submitting his paperwork at the beginning of the year. Its definitely a Russian Roulette game, when it comes to federal hiring.

        • 9L81
          9L81 commented
          Editing a comment
          Well if it's automated then yes that is unnecessarily slow. I got results from an automated test I did once while I was driving home.

      • #7
        COVID has broken the bank as far as the meager amount of CBP/OFO funding goes...if making $$$ and retirement creditable income is an overall consideration.

        Comment


        • #8
          Im the biggest BP pusher in the world for pretty much all the reasons said above by Exbpa340 . It is a great place to spend 20 years, fairly easy to promote within BP, and you really can do anything in the job. Even if the job doesn't sound appealing for a whole career, It is a great place to have fun at your job, make 100k a year doing it, and plan your next agency move. The poster above and myself as well as many other guys have gone on to other agencies, and at least for me, BP and my clearance I had there (granted I had mine uped for a gig I was doing) was the prime reason I was hired elsewhere.

          Nearly every agency I've been at since, a huge number of the guys in each agency's academy class started their careers in BP, regardless of if they were hired straight from there to that new gig or elsewhere. It's a great notch to have on your resume, and I think most people in FLE know the academy is tough, the work is tough, and provides a great LE foundation. Even the small agency 1811 gig I have now, a good chunk of us started our careers in BP. I was told after I was hired that having been through the academy for them and worked a few years in the field was one of the things that stood out on my application to the four person panel, despite none of those four people being prior BP. I had prior 1811 experience they wanted and more or less required, but they said they wanted to bring more hands on LE experience into the agency, since many people there became agents out of the audit/fraud white collar world. Sounds corny but it's what I was told.

          I miss BP daily and a lot of my friends are still there, some have promoted, some have made it to holy grail spots like FL, many are content with being a line agent for their career, but many have moved on to FBi ATF HSI USMS AMO ERO you name it. Great place to start and spend a career.
          UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL
          "90 years of tradition unhindered by progress!"


          honor first

          Comment


          • battlewagon
            battlewagon commented
            Editing a comment
            A con to the agency to consider, especially if you have family, is are they willing to move to the border. Can your spouse find work in an area that speaks Spanish day to day, things like that.

            There are basically three types of areas you can be assigned and you are generally presented with a list of available stations:

            Huge metro border areas that really aren't any different than major inland cities, such as San Diego, El Paso, McAllen/Brownsville, Tuscon, etc.

            Smaller towns that have everything you need, but will be less than you're used to if you're from a medium or bigger sized metro, such as Lordsburg, Del Rio, living and commuting from Sierra Vista, etc.

            Then there's BFE towns that are going to be an absolute culture shock and change in lifestyle. Sanderson TX, Presidio, Deming, etc.

            Choose wisely because another con of BP is mobility. It has gotten better recently but wherever you pick, you need to be okay with working and living at for the next 5 years, minimum.

          • Exbpa340
            Exbpa340 commented
            Editing a comment
            I went through the academy back in the 90s prior to the changes in 2005. The Spanish program was exceptionally difficult for non native speakers and this included Spanish Boards after graduation (at the 6.5 months and 10 months time in service) that resulted in many trainees being fired. The academy was highly respected across the federal LE community. The new BP academy is 26 weeks and with the exception of Spanish is a better program than my 20 week academy.

          • battlewagon
            battlewagon commented
            Editing a comment
            Most definitely. Even the changes in the last ten years have made it a vastly better academy than I went through, and I thought it was great and informative when I went through. The new in depth role play scenarios, simulations, etc are awesome.

            Certain not the level spanish you had exbpa340 but at least now they went back to fully integrated spanish throughout the academy and not the 8 week add on they were doing for quite some time.

        • #9
          With your background I'd apply for the USSS, DEA, HSI, FBI and ATF and wait. 3 years is about the standard time line for a investigator position. I wouldn't apply for USBP or Customs and Border Protection unless you really want to do those jobs. You already have experience as a sworn office so they wouldn't offer you much on paper unless you are just looking to stop the clock for retirement age at 37 which most agencies place as the maximum age to enter on duty. USBP will hire at a higher age with a waiver for military service but many agencies will not nor will they often accept you as a lateral from another agency within the US Gov if you were hired under a age waiver. And pretty much wherever you end up you are likely going to have to move and more than once in your career. So rent, don't buy at least at first. Good luck to you. It's a long journey.

          Comment


          • NYC1175
            NYC1175 commented
            Editing a comment
            ATF is notoriously slow which is weird considering they're a comparably small agency who only opens their application via schedule B with a limited pool of applicants. I'm in the FBI process, and it's moving a decent pace so far. USSS and DEA have the ELAC and MAC respectively which cuts down on application time if applicants get invited to one. HSI, I don't know much about besides the fact that they don't usually do open announcements.

        • #10
          Thank you all so much for your replies. I know this is a long process and could realistically take years, so here’s an additional question. I work for a department where the city I patrol out of recently decided to provide its own police services. They chose a chief and deputy chief and beginning to choose other command level staff. The department will be around 70 officers. My current department is around 400. The chief/deputy chief were previously our command staff at the city prior to them leaving. I’ve had several conversations with them about opportunity at the new department and they really like me and seem to think I’ll have plenty. I believe I’ll have more at current department. Since I’ll be waiting to attempt to get hired federally or in the case I don’t. Should I go to the new department with a chief and deputy chief who think very highly of me? Or stay with my current department which is much larger?

          Comment


          • SHU
            SHU commented
            Editing a comment
            The new agency sounds great and might be great. But small agencies are sometimes really big on politics and those people you know at the top might not be around for long. Would you have union rights in the new dept? If so it might be a worth a shot to try the new department. If not, you might be better off staying put.

        • #11
          What does your intuition tell you? Read the book “Blink” by Malcomb Gladwell. It is an interesting look at decision making. It’s a good read and the information processes that we use or don’t use. A good book for any cop really.

          Comment


          • #12
            My intuition tells me to stay with the larger department. The new department is shaping up to be the highest paid in the state with great benefits, vehicles and equipment. But I feel like once the shiny new stuff wears out/off I’ll be stuck in a small department with not a lot of opportunity.

            Comment

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