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)
For Federal Special Agents, comfortable salaries can be found at U.S. Department of Homeland Security; in fact, median earnings sit around $105K, the highest in the area.
Pay by Experience Level for Special Agent (Federal)
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience is an important factor influencing the compensation of Federal Special Agents. Those who have worked for fewer than five years take home a median salary of $62K, and workers with five to 10 years of experience earn a higher $75K on average. After working for 10 to 20 years, Federal Special Agents make a median salary of $92K. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $100K.
Pay Difference by Location
For Federal Special Agents, busy Los Angeles offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 30 percent above the national average. Federal Special Agents can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like San Antonio (+28 percent), San Francisco (+21 percent), Dallas (+16 percent), and Chicago (+8 percent). The lowest-paying market is Boston, which sits 24 percent below the national average, proving that location is a significant contributor to overall pay. Atlanta and Detroit are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 22 percent lower and 15 percent lower, respectively.
Special Agent (Federal) Advice
Key Stats for Special Agent (Federal)
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