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Although it’s administered by the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and its agents attend to very specific law enforcement duties. Whether uniformed or plainclothes special agents, Secret service agents are charged with protecting the president, vice president and their families, former presidents, and visiting foreign heads of state and important dignitaries. The Secret Service, originally set up to combat counterfeiting during the Civil War, also maintains its role ensuring the integrity of the nation's currency.
Uniformed Agent Salary
Uniformed Secret Service agents are stationed in the White House, the vice president’s residence, the Treasury Building and other federal buildings. They also guard foreign diplomatic establishments and travel in support of presidential, vice presidential, and foreign head of state government missions. Unlike most other federal employees, uniformed Secret Service agents are paid on the federal Law Enforcement scale, starting at a LE-1 level, which pays an annual starting salary of $52,018 as of 2011.
Special Agent Salary
Special agents are the elite plainclothes officers who protect executive officers, their families and foreign dignitaries. Special agents are hired on at GL-7 or GL-9 pay grades depending upon their education and experience levels. Each pay grade is divided into 10 steps, which provide agents within-grade salary increases without the need to be promoted to higher pay grades. Base pay for a GL-7 agent ranges from $38,511 to $48,708 annually, while GL-9 agents may earn between $42,498 and $55,413 annually as of 2011.
Because the cost of living in each part of the country varies, the Office of Personnel Management also provides all federal employees with locality pay, a subsidy that helps index payment by local economic factors. Secret Service agents stationed in Washington, D.C., receive a locality payment of 24.22 percent in addition to their base pay. For example, an entry-level GL-7’s annual pay is $47,838 if he serves in Washington, D.C. Agents charged with protecting former presidents in other areas receive differing locality payment adjustments to their base pay.
Law Enforcement Availability Pay
All federal law enforcement personnel receive an additional 25 percent of their base and locality pay as part of the Law Enforcement Availability Pay program. This pay differential is given to officers because of the need for them to work more than traditional 40-hour work weeks on occasion as well as the need for some to serve in round-the-clock shifts.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.