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Bureau of Diplomatic Security

 Earnings Potential

Starting salaries range from $37,413 to $51,788, depending on qualifications, location of assignment, and related specialized experience. Upon successful completion of all training, special agents become eligible for Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), equal to a 25 percent increase of their base salary.  In addition to an appealing base salary, satisfactory performance earns successful employees grade and pay increases during the first 3 years. After three years, annual reviews determine whether or not a rate and pay increase should be awarded.


Diplomatic Security special agents are federal law enforcement officers who serve worldwide. An individual working as a Diplomatic Security special agent abroad advises and coordinates all security for US ambassadors and Foreign Embassies.   In the United States, agents investigate passport and visa fraud and protect the Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries.


Diplomatic security agents spend most of their careers abroad serving at diplomatic posts. While assigned abroad, special agents are often referred to as regional security officers (RSOs). Overseas assignments offer great opportunity for career growth and usually occur immediately after the initial tour of duty in a domestic field office—which lasts about three years, although foreign assignment can occur earlier. While abroad, the RSO’s task is to design and carry out a security program to protect the ambassador and the embassy itself from any type of criminal activity.  Successful RSOs may go on to the position of regional security officer.  The regional security officer is responsible for managing security operations for an embassy or for several diplomatic posts within an assigned area. RSOs work closely with top State Department officials and serve as operational supervisors of U.S. Marine Security Guard detachments. Domestic assignments are equally challenging and rewarding.

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Iraq: On June 13, 2006 Greg Starr, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countermeasures of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) related a comprehensive plan that the DS has set forth in Iraq.  Mr. Starr explained how the DS has subcontracted private security firms in Iraq in order to guard US diplomatic facilities and to provide personal security and escorts for US ambassadors and officials in Iraq.

Degrees lead to a Career with The Bureau of Diplomatic Security:

The DS demands that applicants hold a BA or BS at the time of application.  Appropriate degrees may include: Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, Psychology, International Affairs, or a degree in a foreign language.

Current Career Openings with The Bureau of Diplomatic Security

The DS is actively seeking security technical specialists and Foreign Service security engineering officers, and career openings are projected to increase in the near future.