Originally, the United States Secret Service was part of the U.S. Treasury, but control passed to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Special agents still take the Treasury Enforcement Agent exam, and they still investigate crimes involving threats to the currency system, credit card, computer and telecommunications fraud, identity theft and crimes involving government-issued securities. They also investigate crimes or threats against those that the Secret Service is authorized to protect. As federal law-enforcement officers, treasury enforcement agents earn a salary based on the salary table that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management issues annually.
The GL Schedule
The federal GL schedule is the salary table for federal law-enforcement officers. The table consists of 15 possible pay grades, with 10 step increases per pay grade. Step increases allow employees to earn a pay raise without requiring a promotion. The OPM first establishes a base pay table. Next, base pay is increased by a set percentage, ranging from 14.16 to 35.15 percent, to reflect adjustments for specific geographic locations. This is called locality pay. Treasury enforcement agents typically begin at the GL-7 or GL-9 level, depending on individual qualifications. However, the exact pay depends on the work location assigned.
Qualifications for GL-7 vs. GL-9
A candidate must have a bachelor's degree with an academic record that shows superior achievement, which means graduating in the top one-third of the class, having at least a 3.0 overall grade-point average, having at least a 3.5 grade-point average in courses required for the major, or holding membership in a national scholastic honor society. Alternatively, candidates can substitute one or more years of education at the graduate level or one year of experience that relates directly to the treasury enforcement agent job and is the equivalent of a GL-5 job. To qualify for the GL-9 pay grade, candidates must have at least a master's degree or at least one year of experience that relates directly to the job and is equivalent to a GL-7 job.
Initial base pay for a GL-7 was $38,511 annually in 2013. Each step increase added $1,133, with a maximum base pay of $48,708. After adding the highest locality pay adjustment, the salary ranged between $52,048 and $65,829. With the lowest locality pay adjustment included, the salary range was from $43,964 to $55,605.
According to the OPM salary table for 2013, base pay for a GL-9 began at $42,948, with $1,385 added at each step to a maximum of $55,413. At the midpoint of the salary table, step 5 paid $48,488, and step 6 was $46,409. After adjusting for the highest locality pay, salaries ranged from $58,044 to $74,891. The lowest locality pay adjustment increased the salary range to $49,029 to $63,259, with steps 5 and 6 paying, respectively, $55,354 and $56,935 annually.
New recruits who were fluent in a foreign language could receive a one-time bonus of 25 percent of their yearly basic pay. Those who used at least one foreign language in performing their jobs could earn an additional 5 percent of base pay on an ongoing basis. All agents were eligible for overtime pay, called law-enforcement-availability pay, which added 25 percent to salaries after locality pay adjustments.