Special Agent (Federal) Salary
Job Description for Special Agent (Federal)
A special agent (federal) is a law enforcement specialist who engages in the enforcement and investigation of violations of federal statutes. As these investigations and apprehensions can be highly involved and of clear and immediate danger to the general public, agencies who hire special agents are highly selective of their personnel. Special agents are also often detailed to teams and task forces revolving around a fairly tight focus.Read More...
As investigators, special agents will typically be allowed and required to question witnesses, persons of interest, and suspects regarding crimes in violation of federal statutes. Special agents also assist in the gathering of evidence through surveillance and field work. In some very specialized projects, the special agent may be required to infiltrate a group of individuals or an organization being investigated, sometimes in an undercover capacity. Much of the work a special agent does, however, involves organizing data collected either by themselves or other agents or investigators. The federal special agent will typically also use a great deal of his or her work time writing detailed reports. All of this office work must be done with meticulous detail, as it may be utilized by other agents or even prosecutors and could be presented as evidence.
Because federal agencies in law enforcement are so selective about their personnel, a person interested in being a special agent will likely need at least an undergraduate degree in law enforcement, criminology, or some related discipline. Many agents apply from or are recruited from the ranks of local and state law enforcement, and most federal agencies will look for practical experience and demonstrated excellence on the job. Special agents must also pass a rigorous background and security check in order to work in this field. Most agents work long, frequently irregular hours in field and office work.
Special Agent (Federal) Tasks
- Identify case issues and evidence based on complaints, charges or allegations of violations.
- Prepare detailed reports of findings.
- Search for and collect evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA samples and computer records.
- Record interviews using cameras or other means.
- Interview suspects and witnesses to obtain and verify information.
Special Agent (Federal) Job Listings
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Popular Employer Salaries for Special Agent (Federal)
The biggest paychecks can be found at U.S. Department of Homeland Security — the median salary there is $105K.
Pay by Experience Level for Special Agent (Federal)
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience and income seem to be closely related; in general, the survey respondents who had worked for more years reported higher incomes. Average salaries for inexperienced employees average out to around $64K, but folks who have five to 10 years of experience earn a higher median of $75K. Federal Special Agents claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $97K. Respondents who claim more than 20 years of experience may encounter pay that doesn't quite reflect their extensive experience; these veterans report a median income of around $98K.
Pay Difference by Location
For those looking to make money, Federal Special Agents in Dallas enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 45 percent above the national average. Federal Special Agents will also find cushy salaries in Los Angeles (+29 percent) and San Antonio (+26 percent). Federal Special Agents in Boston make 25 percent less than the national average, proving that location is a major factor in pay. Employers pay around 23 percent less in Atlanta and 16 percent less in Detroit, below-median salaries for those in this field.
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