I'm currently an Alaskan college student (18 yrs old), doing two years of General Education Requirement before I transfer to a lower 48 University (most likely Rochester Int. of Technology or Gettysburg College) to get my major. My main goal is to get into either US Marshals or State Department's DS. I've talked to an FBI Special Agent and a DEA Agent, in addition to multitude of cops (my girlfriend's dad is an ex-cop). I'm trying to figure out what would be the most attractive major to the Feds.
The FBI Agent said that the whole "accounting or law degree" is pretty outdated. Anyone with technical experience or foreign language/culture education is desirable. With that in mind, I was aiming for a double-major in Global Studies (Either Middle East or China, learning Arabic or Mandarin languages) and Software Engineering. However I hate working with computers and don't want to be a "cubicule" dweller.
What majors and education do the US Marshals or DS look for? I've heard Criminal Justice/Police Science is a very bad way to go from many people. Do you agree with this? What would make me most attractive? After my LEO career, I'd like to retire and obtain my Doctorate to teach Political Science at a University, so I don't want to pigeon-hole myself.
I do plan to join the National Guard when I transfer for my remaining two or three years of college, I figure military training would be pretty invaluable while the Guard would let me still do the College thing. Would my best bet be to simply do an entry-level LEO job and work my way up? I have no problem with being a street cop, that's something I'd enjoy.
I've just been trying to talk to as many guys as possible to get a solid idea of how to best prep myself. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Oh and this is my first post, so apologies if wrong forum/breach of rules, whatever.
In my experience there really isnt one degree program that is more sought after than other degrees. Most of the Marshals I have worked with had degrees in criminal justice, and went to the Marshal service after doing an internship in college. But thats only a handful of Marshals I've met.
State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security also is not so concerned with which degree you have. This I know from experience. I went through the process and was given a conditional offer. However, after a bunch of problems at work, and some issues with my family I turned it down. Something to consider with the State Department route...there are specific positions for Security Engineers and Technicians. These positions require a degree in electronics or engineering.
Also, you can get "extra" points for veteran's preference and/or language ability. The one thing most federal agencies want to see is increasing levels of responsibility, such as local law enforcement work where you made corporal or got to a specialized unit, but that is only an example.
Hope this helps.
A college degree. Basically that and a good GPA will help.
Avoid "recreational" drug usage while in college to avoid disqualification. Some agencies will accept some "recreational" drug usage. Very limited, and at least a year since last use and no "hard" drugs... ever! Candidly... if it is between two candidates and one has "recreational" drug usage... guess who they will pick.
Thousands and sometimes tens of thousands apply for a few dozen positions. They can really be picky and not worry about rumming out of "cream of the crop" candidates.
In the past the FBI preferred attorneys and accountants. Now they are doing a lot of computer related forensics due to a lot of computer crime investigations. Child porn and financial evidence search through hard drives.
Criminal Investigators for IRS would benefit from an accounting degree.
I would skip the degree in criminal justice. I have never seen that help get hired over other degrees, and not a feather in a promotion package either. Criminal Justice really does not carry any real weight towards the actual career. Business administration might be good if you want to move up to supervision. In that case a masters looks good in a promotion package.
How do I know this?
I just retired from the U.S. Marshals Service.
Candidly... I would have the reserve time behind you before trying for the Marshals Service. The agency is very short staffed, and when deployed it casues a hardship in the office. By law they have to accomodate... but in reality you won't be popular with district management and that may effect their vision of you being "a team player". It can make promotions and transfers difficult as they see you as a "part time" employee if you end up being deployed often. TOTALLY WRONG AND ILLEGAL... but a reality!
Experience with a good police department will help. You can do this while waiting for the test to open and your name to come up. It can and does take years. Though the USMS is critically short staffed... and there are tens of thousands that test when it opens... there is not much hiring. It is insane... and the short staffing which caused a problem taking leave and even having medical appointments cancelled prompted me to retire at 51. One day I sat in my Chief's office with a blood pressure of 180/110 (near stroke level, work stress related and medication problem) he was not going to let me off to seek medical care. I almost had to call an ambulance to get out of the office.
All offices are not that bad... but the problem is short staff to the point if some one takes time off or calls in sick, there is not enough people to get the job done. Some districts are more critical than others... but agency wide there is critical short staffing. No real plan to hire... not test date in sight!
Once you get that federal job... contribute the max into your Thrift Savings Program. Even if it hurts!!! It is like a 401K or an Individual Retirement Account. I retired at 34.8 %... with a special Social Security check added to that, it should end up being about 40% total. The TSP that YOU build will make a major difference when you hit 55 to start and draw from.
I have my masters in liberal taser arts and a bachelors in criminal k9 injustice.
Agreed in the case of the FBI. An accounting degree was highly desired back when I screened in the early '90s...a CPA and a clean criminal history + pee test was nearly a guaranteed in at the time.
The degree doesn't matter. If you can learn a foreign language such as Arabic, Farsi or Chinese, then you'll be ready to go.
I have a degree is CJ. I had a 3.6 is college and that helped a lot when it came time to getting a job. I had several different job offers, probably better than the department I am working for now, but i came home to my hometown which was always my dream so i happy.
The best advice I can give is a get a degree, study hard, keep your nose clean and you will be fine. Set your goals high and with hard work you can achieve them.
Thanks guys, this is extremely helpful. It's really mirroring what I've been hearing. As for the Guard, I'd probably serve my time while plugging away at a local PD, waiting for the USMS test to open up. Being every five years, I think I just miss it when I graduate so most likely I'll be waiting awhile.
I don't think I could do accounting. I find Business type things (administration, computer work) extremely boring, as I worked several summers as a Cinema Dept. Director that involved heavy, long hours of computer and office work. I think I'd go nuts.
As such, I have a question for those who've served in the USMS. Do you see a lot of fieldwork? How often were you "on the move"? What is a typical Marshal job like? Is it pretty stationary or are you being moved around a lot?
Thanks again, most helpful everyone.
EDIT: Oh and I have completely clean criminal history. I made a decision awhile ago that I'd be best benefited by staying away from drugs so thankfully I haven't done any recreational drugs and it will stay that way.
You mentioned an intrest in DS. The degree you recieve doesn't matter, there are all kinds. CJ does not give you a leg up, and it will limit your options if you don't go LE. In my basic class of 24 people, 20 had military and/or law enforcement experience, three were recent college grads with little life experience, and one was an attorney. The environment DS operates in now makes military experience desirable, but lack of it is not a showstopper. It has also become very competetive now. DS was once the best kept secret in law enforcement, that is no longer the case. Last October State opened the agent position for hiring. In 24 hours they recieved over three thousand applications, for 24 positions. Keep your grades up and keep your nose clean.
First of all I see you are in Alaska. DO NOT expect to be hired into that office. First, the USMS for some stupid reason will not place you in your home state as a general rule. Second, the Alaska office is VERY selective. They are very picky who they select for transfer. It is a difficult office to transfer into. It could happen... but don't assume because it makes sense for an Alaska resident to stay in Alaska. Logic is not in their vocabulary at HQ!
Due to the short staffing, expect to be hired as a 082 series Deputy (NOT a criminal investigator). You will have to apply for a 1811 series criminal investigator after about 2 years on the job WHEN a position opens. This may take several attempts to get selected for promotion to 1811 series. Meaning, a time period measured in years and not months. Don't expect to be able to stay in your same office if you are selected for an 1811 position. About 99% promoted to 1811 series require a move at your expense to the new district office. Only supervisor/inspector positions and above are paid moves.
Series 082 Deputies should expect that most of their duties will be "hooking & hauling". Restraining prisoners, transporting prisoners, taking prisoners to court, and sitting on your ass in court watching said prisoners. You may also rotate into the cell block depending on which district. Some districts DO NOT have detention officers. Series 082 DUSM can not be case agents or be assigned investigation or have assigned vehicles. Most 1811 series DUSM also hook & haul. This causes hard feelings. Series 1811 & 082 DUSM doing the same job, with the 1811 series making twice the pay or more. AND... 1811 series criminal investigators stuck hooking & hauling and not getting a chance to do field work and hunt fugitives.
For the most part you can spend your entire career in one office, ASSUMING... you don't want to request a transfer and/or you do not want to put in for an 1811 series slot and/or promotions. An 082 series DUSM makes about half of what a 1811 series DUSM makes. 082 series DUSMs have a 40 hour work week with anything over 8 hours a day as overtime. You should get plenty of OT!
Series 1811 DUSM are on salary with a 25% premium pay (availability pay) on salary and with premium pay, they basically OWN you! Very little district work qualifies for OT, and you are on call at the whim of the district. If they want you to work a regular day, then work several hours after 5pm... you work it without the ability to decline the "OT" hours... the bad part is you won't earn OT, as the 25% premium pay is for any and all hours worked over 8 hours a day. Some districts you will be OK, some districts you will work way more than 25% more hours than a 40 hour work week.
You will have opportunities for "special assignments". That is going to another district and working a "special" usually a trial where that district can not cover the trial with district staff. You will get a good amount of OT and per diem. You make good money on specials. Series 1811 DUSM also get sent on specials and that is the rare time when they will qualify for OT. OT for 082 DUSM is after an 8 hour day, OT for 1811 series DUSM is after a TEN hours day. Sat & Sun is OT in this case for both series. HOWEVER... 1811 series normally WOULD NOT be paid OT for Sat & Sun, only while on "specials".
I retired as a GS12 step 9. The highest step you can earn in each GS level is step 10. Supervisors are level GS13 in the USMS. FBI, DEA, etc supervisors are GS 14 level. USMS is one level lower than other criminal investigator 1811 series pay. I was making (as an 1811 series DUSM) just a little under $100,000.00 annually. I now make about what the average 082 series DUSM as retirement pay. About $40,000.00 annually. Not bad if you retire debt free and you do not have a big mortgage or a chunk out for child support. A 60% decrease in income upon retirement is a bit of an adjustment. But when I make an effort to find a post retirement job... I will be way OK! I have another 10 or 15 years for my Thrift Saving which I converted to a Individual Retirement account to earn from investments before I will draw from that.
If you want to talk sometime... IM or email me and I will give you my phone number. USMS is not a bad agency... it is just that the short staffing really makes it a problem if you want to do more than hook & haul!
Good stuff guys.
As per the DS, it interests me because it seems that's more of a security-type oriented job. I'd really like to work in an Embassy as an RSO eventually but it seems that it’s a really tough position to get. Plus, I’ve heard the State Department one of the worst bureaucratic messes in the government, so working for them is a little daunting. Does anyone have any experience with DS? What’s it like trying to get on with them?
In response to DasRonin
Not a problem. I don’t really plan to live here during my LEO career so that’s not that big of a factor. I’m going to be transferring for my degree to a Pennsylvania college anyways.
Can you explain what exactly the difference of an 1811 position is? They can merely pursue fugitives and get better pay then that of 082, correct? How long did it take you to get to that 1811 position at GS12? What I’d really like to do is retire with a healthy pension (like you did) then use my GI Bill from old Guard service to go back to college and get my Ph.d so I can teach.
I had a DEA Agent who was taking a class with me that told me that everyone wants in to the Marshals because they get paid the best. Is this pretty much true? It sounds like US Marshals is mostly prisoner escort.
From what I’m picking up, defiantly sounds like I need to simply go a Cultural studies route and master a tough language like Arabic or Chinese in addition to my limited (but expanding) Spanish. And that life experience with LEO and Guard experience would be the best.
Sounds like I’ve got quite a wait up ahead to get on with these agencies. How long did it take you guys to get on? Did you go straight LEO to the Feds or military or right out of College?
You guys rock, Alaska is kinda barren when it comes to resources about these kind of things. Only real contact I’ve been able to cultivate is that with the FBI Office up here. Thanks again.
Long answer... here I go...
The 1811 series is a Department of Justice wide series for Criminal Investigators. FBI, DEA, BATF&E, Postal Inspectors, Secret Service, etc...etc... etc are all 1811 series investigators. (The journeyman grade for all these agencies is GS-13, only the USMS Criminal Investigator 1811 series has a journeyman grade of GS-12) The other law enforce series is 082. I am not sure but I think this series is for uniform type LE positions in the fed govt. The GSA Federal Protective Service Police are 082 series, the Uniform Division of Secret Service might be 082 series, Postal Police... agencies which perform duties much like a street police officer. So I guess you could say 1811 series is like Detective.
Though the 082 series in the Marshals Service is not actually a uniform division, they in theory perform the "lower" duties to free up the 1811 series to conduct investigations. The lower duties are basically prisoner handling. You can relate the USMS more with a Sheriff's Department than a police department. We run the courts, we hold federal prisoners, we protect the judges, we provide courthouse security, we hunt fugitives, we hunt bond violators, we hunt prison escapees, we hunt parole/supervised release violators, we operate multi agency fugitive task forces, etc. All other 1811 series just basically investigate, our investigations relate to courthouse security violations, threats against judges, prosecutors, courthouse staff, and the biggie... fugitives. We move or coordinate the movement of all federal prisoners... "con-air" flights. We have the broadest powers of all federal agencies. When they thought Nixon was going to be charged and arrested for Watergate, the only agency with the authority to arrest the President was the USMS.
In reality it comes to two functions. Courts & prisoners and investigations. Since ALL arrests in the federal government by EVERY federal agency and Federal taskforce has to process through a Marshals Office... it all funnels into our duties. So when they do a big operation like the prosecution of all arrests of felons in possession of firearms... a big program in many districts by the US Attorney and BATF&E... we get flooded with work. When a district has huge programs to prosecute "Crack Cocaine" houses... they again flood all the arrests into our office.
When all the federal agencies and federal taskforces make arrests... every single arrest goes through our offices. This takes a lot of man power to handle the arrests. In the federal system, I would guess about 60 to 70% of all arrests are detained... no bond. We have to present them for court appearances. So the bulk of our work compared to manpower is spent on prisoner operations. Since we do not get more DUSM proportional to the hiring by other federal agencies... they grow... but we get more work to do with no growth in staffing. So prisoner operation has priority and our criminal investigators get tied up with the 082 DUSM handling courts.
By policy, planning or design... there is NOT the intention to have our 1811 series tied up in court... but by necessity, it happens. The way it is supposed to work is that the 082 series does the prisoner handling & courts... and the 1811 series hunt fugitives and conducts investigations. However, if you have six 082 DUSM in prisoner ops, and you have five 10:00 am courts... you need 10 DUSM to cover those courts. They are four DUSM short... and guess what... Investigations gets pulled to suit up and move prisoners.
The USMS is a small agency. About 3500 DUSM nation wide. My district covers half of the state of Missouri. We have 26 DUSM to cover three offices, Kansas City, Jefferson City, and Springfield. Two DUSM in Jeff city. Six DUSM in Springfield, and the remainder in KC. Of those 26 DUSM, five are supervisors. The Marshal (a presidential appointee), a Chief Deputy (the highest career position), a supervisor in Springfield, a prisoner ops supervisor in KC, and a investigations supervisor in KC. That leaves 21 DUSM to do it all... for half a state!
Factor in ONE is in Iraq on deployment in the reserves, at least one is on leave at any given time, and one is out on special assignment... that cuts back to 18 DUSM. Two in Jeff city... and it takes at least two to do any job... they have to hire an off duty police officer to take a day off or call in sick. Springfield... it takes two DUSM for each prisoner presented in court. So, the supervisor is partner to the odd 5th DUSM in the office. In KC, there are THREE DUSM working the streets... that leaves EIGHT DUSM to handle prisoner ops. TWO of which are in the cellblock all day (each has a two day a week assignment in the cellblock)... that leaves 6 DUSM to move prisoners. In KC our prisoner population is something like 600 prisoners. We average 20 to 30 prisoners per day through our cell block.
So... the investigations guys spend about 30 % 0f their time suited up hooking and hauling prisoners... pulled from the streets. The agency realistically needs to nearly double in size to properly handle all our work. HOWEVER... our budget limits how many DUSM we can have, and DOJ sees that we find a way to cover it all... and will not increase the budget to hire more DUSM. We always seem to find a way!
SO... 1811 series get pulled for courts... 082 series which by policy CAN help with investigations don't get a chance because we are too short handed to let then on the streets. It is hard to take annual leave, hard to get a personal day or sick day for a Dr. appointment, when some one calls in sick, they have to hire a guard or call in an 1811 to cover the courts... it is insane!
All districts are not like this... but almost all of the "middle" size (Kansas City size) and "large" districts (New York, Los Angles) are snowed under with prisoner work. The southwest border has districts that have a DAILY prisoner load of 200 prisoners PER DAY. Illegal Aliens! When ICE prosecutes those arrested for illegal entry in the border states... it goes to the USMS... if it is seen by a district court... and not an immigrations detainment before deportation. So, all the smugglers, coyotes, fighters, any one charged with a crime... gets dragged to a USMS district office and out of the hands of immigration.
In KC... about 40% of our prisoners are illegal aliens... 99% of that Mexican. Hell... my office was 1/2 way to Canada... and we get illegals who can't speak a word of English. So, translators are required... and that at least doubles the time each court appearance lasts.
If I stayed over 20 years, I only gain 1% per year worked to my retirement calculation. It was not worth 1% per year to stay more than 20 years on that job because of being so short handed. I retired with 360 hours of unused annual leave. I could not get the time off approved to use it because of being short staffed. Had I stayed to the end of the year... I would have lost120 hours of leave as we cannot carry over more than 240 hour. Some will argue I could file to have it restored since I COULD NOT get the time off... but what is the point? If you can't get it approved the next year... it will be lost then.
It is not that intentionally the USMS is prisoner escort. It is just that the federal prisoner population is growing faster than DOJ can allow the agency to grow. In reality... the KC office is about 10 DUSM under staffed. The Chief Deputy about crapped his pants when he found out I was retiring. HE was quoted as saying "How can I do this to me!" As I was causing him to be one more DUSM short, and no one was trained to cover my collateral duties. (I was also the Rangemaster, Senior Firearms Instructor, Radio Communications tech, the only one who could change/repair locks and vault combinations, I designed the security system for that courthouse, I was the go to guy... and I had told them I would go at 20 years and almost begged then to let me train a replacement... but they would not listen. It will literally take a year or more to train and cover the collateral duties I was responsible for... even after warning then I was leaving.) Of course... I feel no guilt in retiring... one reason was sitting in the Chief’s office with a blood pressure of 180/110... near stroke level... and he was going to make me stay and work... and allow me to see my doctor on a day he selected when it was not so busy! Then there was the day I asked for one day off because my fiancee's mother died and I needed to go to Iowa to help her with the funeral... she was an only child... I was not allowed. Then when a female DUSMs CAT died... he gave her 2 or 3 days off because she was so upset. It is insane... I could go on!
My office has terrible management. Not all are that bad. When we are not flooded with prisoners... the agency has probably the best overall duties of any federal agency... because of the broad authority and duties. We have a greater variety of duties than ANY other federal agency... we are just critically short staffed almost to the point of not being able to support the courts.
DO NOT rule out a career in the USMS... at some point it will be fixed... but it was not going to happen in my career (I could have stayed on about 6 more years before mandatory retirement) I thought it better to retire and find another job at 51 than at 57 years old. Factor in only 1% per year to stay... and it was not worth it.
I hired on before the 082 series program began. That program is only about 6 years old. The idea was... when an 1811 series DUSM left the agency (retirement, lost to another agency, whatever) rather than hiring an 1811... they could now split the salary and hire TWO 082 series. It might have worked to grow in staffing to keep up with the work... BUT DOJ would not allow that. We were allowed "X" number of bodies in the agency... and we could not hire two 082 series even if the salary of the lost DUSM 1811 series would cover the salary of hiring two 082 series. We continued to hire 082 series in hopes of having it change... it did not. About ½ of the DUSM are 082 series.
Me... I hired on in 1985 from a police department. I was making $20k at the PD as a senior patrolman. I hired on as a 082 DUSM at $14k a year. Yes, I was a 082... and yes I took a $6k a year pay cut to get the job. Back then 082 series automatically progressed in a few years into an 1811 position. Also, it took about 3 years to get back to the level I was at the PD... and grow way past that level in a few more. Retirement was also better at the end.
Right now I make as much as a Sgt on the PD I left... and I sit at home retired! I also have a considerable IRA account from my government 401k type account I rolled over. It is too long to list... but I was lucky during my employment with the USMS... and I have job experience that 98% or more of the average DUSM I hired on with never had the chance to get. I got to do some cool stuff (some classified) and gained experience and collateral duties only a hand full will ever get a change or trained to do. International stuff... technical stuff... etc. I did not want to have the last years on the job as being nothing more than hooking & hauling... and never getting any leave... fighting for medical leave... going to work sick... and spent on my ass in court or waiting at my desk for my next court.
Once the staffing issue gets properly fixed... the USMS will once again be THE Federal agency!
Wow, thanks for the information. That is great, really helps me get a solid idea of what to expect. Much appricated!
I can't believe every arrest has to go through the Marshal's office! That's insane! The amount of work present sounds daunting but this is just where I'd like to do. Thanks for the answering the barrage of questions I had, it's tough to find out Information on the Marshals, they just aren't that well known!
Oh, I know one other thing I was wondering. How much time did you spend in front of a desk and how much time did you spend traveling around? Were you home often or usually always gone? Did you ever travel outside of America?
Looks like I'm defiently going to try to take a shot at getting into the Marshal's Service (along with Diplomatic Security)...
Thanks for the help again.
I spent my entire career in one District. The first 6 months in a sub-office (Springfield) and the remainder in the Kansas City office. Twenty years, 6 months and 2 days... total on the job.
I did no over seas travel. That is very limited. A few very special things... some classified, but the most common is an international extradition. Flying to some country, meeting the national LE agency, and taking from them a prisoner being brought back to the USA... OR taking a prisoner to another country they extradited from the USA. They sound great... but it is a flight over... maybe and over night stay... then a return flight.
I did however work hundreds (probably really thousands) of international fugitive cases by rotating through the Enforcement Division at our HQ. I'd go out for 3 to 5 weeks at a time, and work with and through Interpol, the State Department, Main Justice (Department of Justice in DC) and a number of foreign Embassies. I did reqular stuff through Interpol, worked through an Isreali General, The British Embassy, The Royal Canadain Mounted Police, and the German National Police frequently on each trip out to HQ. I worked with a few teams that were out of country on fugitive hunts... but I never left the USA. I declined the international trips. Only a hand full of DUSM have done the Interpol assignment... I was fortunate to have that opportunity.
I have also rotated out to our national training academy as a guest firearms instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Georgia. Not many ever get that opportunity either. I have been able to do much that most DUSM never got or will get to do.
About once or twice a year for the first 1/2 to 2/3 of my career I went out on "specials". They were the International fugitive details, flying on "Conair", high threat trials (some with terrorists groups) and protective details much like what the Secret Service does. Some related to the World Trade Center Bombing. I have been on protective details to New York City a bunch of times. As I got older and had a son... I tried to travel less. The last years of my career I declined the "specials"... the younger DUSM were always willing to take the opportunity I declined.
Though my office was a really unpleasant office to work in... not many stay... I really had an exceptional career as it relates to opportunities most never get. It really looks good on my resume now! I turned down opportunites to work at HQ... passed on an opportunity to be assigned to the training academy in the firearms division. I chose to stay in Missouri for family reasons. Had I done differently... I have no doubt I could have climbed the management ladder. I chose to stay in one district the entire career... never submitting a management promotion package. I did not want to put career advancement over my son. I have no regrets.
Well... I do have one. I had my own indoor 25 yard, four position firing range, I was the rangemaster of at the courthouse. A few nice toys with "fun switches" and access to the range and ammo when ever I wanted. I regret I left that... I will miss that set of keys!
I was very lucky. I had great opportunities considering I started out dirt poor in a poor part of town. Joining the Army when I finished high school started my path out of that. The unusual thing is... I do not have a college degree. I just have about two years thanks to VA benefits, I earned going to UMKC while a police officer. I really was lead to a fortunate path. Not that many made it out of my neighbor hood... even fewer were as lucky as I was in a career.
A friend of mine has a son who works as a Translator for the CIA. His wife does the same thing too. They live and work at the US Embassy Compound in Columbia. Combined they make over $250,000 a year, and don't have to pay for jack because they live in the compound. Together he and his wife speak (and read) over 8 languages. They are also in charge of some language training for the Military in those parts. Speaking another language us a huge asset if you're looking at a Fed agency that does a lot of work abroad.