The Federal Bureau of Investigations is perhaps the best known and most famous federal law enforcement agency. Falling under the control of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible for investigating crimes related to domestic security, including computer crimes, financial crimes, kidnapping and terrorist threats. FBI special agents work in field offices across the United States and around the world.
To become a special agent, a bachelor's degree will be required at a minimum. Candidates with master's degrees, juris doctorates or relevant work experience are preferred. The FBI has several career paths within the special agent program including law, financial crime, computer fraud and general law enforcement. Agents attend the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia and are assigned to field offices throughout the U.S upon graduation.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement employ special agents to investigate crimes related to human smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering and violations of immigration law. Special agents conduct civil, administrative and criminal investigations.
I.C.E. agents typically hold at least a 4-year degree, though relevant work experience can substitute for education requirements. Preference is given to those with prior law enforcement or military experience. Prior experience in a leadership or management position is also desired.
The United States Secret Service is best known for protecting the U.S. president. However, the job of secret service special agents includes much more than being ready to take a bullet for their charge. The U.S. Secret Service is responsible for securing the nation's treasury and protecting the U.S. currency, as well. In fact, the primary function of the secret service is to safeguard the U.S currency and prevent counterfeiting.
The secret service's dual role, of course, is to provide protective services to presidents and dignitaries. As a result, secret service agents may be called upon to augment security details around the U.S. for high-ranking officials and visiting diplomats. Secret service agents receive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, as well as specialized training in the Washington, D.C. area.
The United States Marshals Service is the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the U.S. It is also perhaps the most storied. The agency of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday is known as the enforcement arm of the federal court's system. Ninety-four marshals oversee as many districts. Their deputies are responsible for providing court security and witness protection.
Deputy marshals also conduct enforcement of federal court orders, arrange for prisoner transport, and provide for the detention of those awaiting trials in federal courts. The marshal's service also assists local agencies in capturing escaped fugitives and oversees the federal witness protection program. Upon appointment, deputy marshals receive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga.
NCIS agents provide special investigative services for the U.S. Department of the Navy. Special agents work on U.S. Navy installations around the world and investigate major crimes involving Navy personnel and property, including the United States Marine Corps. Special agents are also stationed on Naval ships while at sea.
NCIS special agents are responsible for the investigation and enforcement of crimes that will result in prison time of a year or more under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or major felonies under local or federal law.
Members of the United States Border Patrol are responsible for securing the nation's borders. Agents work around the country, along the Mexican and Canadian borders as well as oceanic regions around Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Border patrol agents conduct investigations, track subjects who have entered the country illegally, and work to curb and prevent incidents of human trafficking and drug smuggling.
The U.S. border patrol, due to the nature of their mission, also plays a special role in preventing terrorism by working to keep both terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from crossing the borders. Agents attend the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in New Mexico. The academy is known as one of the toughest law enforcement academies in the country, and all graduates must be able to speak Spanish functionally before they can report for their first duty assignment.
In addition to special agents, the United States Secret Service also employs its own uniformed police force. These officers provide security at installations around the Washington, D.C., area, including the White House, the Treasury Building and the vice president's residence at the United States Naval Observatory.
Uniformed secret service officers are also responsible for security at foreign embassies around the capital. They also travel with secret service special agents to augment presidential and dignitary security details around the country and the world. Uniformed secret service officers train at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga. They also receive specialized training near Washington, D.C.
The armed forces of the United States, as well as the Pentagon, employ civilian police forces to augment their own military police units. These officers provide law enforcement services on bases and military installations. They may stand guard at checkpoints, conduct minor criminal investigations and assist specialized investigative units when uniformed officers are required.
Department of Defense police officers also conduct traffic enforcement and respond to calls for service on base. Their jurisdiction is limited to the base on which they serve or installations under the control of the military branch by which they are employed. Some bases and installations may have memoranda of understanding with the local communities to allow for enhanced patrols outside of the military facilities.
Federal Law Enforcement Jobs
Learn More About Criminal Justice Jobs Within the Federal Government
Some of the most coveted law enforcement jobs are found in the federal government. Federal law enforcement jobs tend to come with higher salaries, great health benefits, and a generous retirement, and are available at several different agencies, all with unique but important missions, encompassing all manner of specialties.
With so many choices among agencies and job types, it can be difficult deciding on the best criminal justice career. For those of you seeking federal government employment, here are just a few of the many options available in federal law enforcement jobs.