Security protective specialists of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) supplement DS special agents in the supervision of contractor personnel at certain U.S. embassies, consulates and regional offices abroad. SPS’s are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and possibly other Foreign Service posts.

SPSs work with DS special agents to ensure that a DS SPS or special agent is always present and involved with every protective motorcade element. The SPS or SA may act as the detail leader and may supervise other DS or contractor personnel.

As members of a diplomatic team, security protective specialists not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also represent the United States to the people of other nations.

SPS positions are non-career appointments and are renewable annually up to a maximum of five years. Extensions beyond five years are not permitted.

Federal retirement benefits accrue during time spent as a DS security protective specialist.


  • U.S. Citizenship.
  • Willing and able to travel extensively throughout the world.
  • Qualifying experience would include at least three years within the last seven in one of the following fields or combination. Experience must have been progressive and culminated in at least one year in a position with increased levels of responsibility.
    • Employment as a protective security specialist in a domestic or overseas venue
    • Employment as a sworn law enforcement officer at the federal, state, or local level in a tactical operations unit (SWAT, Special Ops, Executive Protection, etc)
    • Military service –
      • With a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in Special Operations/Special Forces, infantry, military police, or military investigative organization (CID, OSI, NCIS, etc).
      • All other MOSs – if MOS is in a field other than those listed above, other MOSs may qualify if a minimum of one tour of duty was spent in a combat arms assignment in a combat theater of operations.
      • Marine Security Guards – if MOS is in a field other than those listed above, MSGs may qualify if a minimum of one tour of duty was spent in a combat arms assignment in a combat theater of operations.
  • At least 21 years of age and must not have reached 37th birthday at the time of appointment OR be a preference eligible veteran.
  • Successfully complete all written and oral selection examinations.
  • Successfully undergo a background investigation, qualify for a Top Secret/SCI security clearance, and pass a suitability review.
  • Pass a stringent medical examination.
  • Pass physical fitness tests (a timed 1-1/2 mile run and gender and age-specific repetitions of push-ups and sit-ups) and be fit for strenuous physical exertion.
  • Possess a valid U.S. driver's license.
  • Be willing to carry and, if necessary, use firearms. Qualify with firearms throughout the period of appointment.
  • Successfully complete required training, including all aspects of the 13-week initial training program.
  • Must not have been convicted of any felony charge, a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or any other violation that prohibits possession of firearms.
  • Be willing and able to meet these physical demands in high-stress, life and death situations.
  • Must be able to perform protective security assignments with physical demands that may include, but are not limited to, intermittent and prolonged periods of running, walking, standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs, quickly entering and exiting various vehicles, enduring inclement weather which may include excessive heat.
  • Must perform other functions that may require jumping, dodging, lying prone, as well as wrestling, restraining and subduing attackers, or detainees.
  • Must be able to conduct security inspections that may require crawling under vehicles and other low clearances or in tight spaces such as attics and crawl spaces.
  • Must be able to assist with installing or maintaining security countermeasures, which might involve lifting heavy objects and working on ladders or rooftops.
  • Must be skilled at driving and maneuvering a motor vehicle defensively or evasively in a variety of situations at various speeds.
  • Foreign language ability is desirable but not mandatory.
  • Incumbent will be subject to random drug testing.

    ^Top of page^


All security protective specialists must complete approximately 19 weeks of initial training/orientation at the Diplomatic Security Training Center, the Foreign Service Institute and/or some other facility in the Washington, DC area.

The training program develops and tests proficiency in job-related subjects that include use of firearms, physical fitness, personal defensive tactics, driving skills, emergency medical procedures, and protective security techniques. Proficiency is measured through a series of scored practical exercises as well as written subject matter-specific and comprehensive written examinations.

Failure to successfully complete any aspect of the training program is grounds for separation.

^Top of page^

Salary And Benefits:

Initial salary will generally be at the FP-06, Step 1 ($44,737) which includes 16.52% overseas comparability payment. Salary is not negotiable.

The following are some of the more significant benefits to employment in the Foreign Service:

  • Danger Pay - based upon post of assignment. Afghanistan - 35% of base pay; Iraq - 35% of base pay; Peshawar, Pakistan - 35% of base pay.
  • Post Differential - based upon post of assignment. Afghanistan - 35% of base pay; Iraq - 35% of base pay; Peshawar, Pakistan - 35% of base pay.
  • Overtime - OT may be expected and is paid at the rate of 1.5 times the hourly rate. May request compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay.
  • Separate Maintenance Allowance (SMA) - while assigned to unaccompanied posts, SPS employees are eligible for SMA. The SMA is an annual grant determined by the number of dependents and ranges from $6,000 for one child to $20,200 for an adult dependent with 4 or more family members. The SMA is non-taxable.
  • R&R - Kabul, Peshawar and Baghdad are under a generous leave/R&R allowance program (usually taken at 50-90 day intervals). Kabul and Baghdad allow 2 R&Rs and 3 Regional Rest Breaks (RRBs) or 3 R&Rs and no RRBs. Peshawar allows 2 R&Rs and 1 RRB. R&Rs provide round-trip transportation to any point in the United States. Time usually allowed is approximately two weeks. In addition to the Annual Leave allowance, posts often permit administrative leave to be used while on R&R.
  • Annual Leave - federal employees earn Annual Leave (AL) based upon the following formula:

(a) If less than 3 years federal service - 4 hours a pay period (26 pay periods in a calendar year);
(b) If between 3 and 15 years federal service - 6 hours a pay period;
(c) If more than 15 years federal service - 8 hours a pay period.

  • Former Military Service - time spent in the US military is credited towards the annual leave allowance unless the employee is retired from the military. If retired and receiving retired pay, then form SF-813 (Verification of a Military Retiree's Service) must be submitted before a determination can be made as to the amount of creditable service for leave accrual purposes.
  • Sick Leave - all employees receive the same allowance - 4 hours per pay period.
  • Life Insurance - employees automatically receive basic life insurance unless they waive it. They may also select from a variety of options to include up to a maximum of 5 times base annual salary.
  • Health Insurance - employees may choose from a variety of options. Employees have 60 days to elect coverage. Coverage begins the pay period after the application forms are received in the DS HR Office.
  • Retirement Plan - all SPS employees are enrolled in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and contribute to Social Security.
  • Thrift Savings Plan - employees may contribute up to the IRS limit ($16,500). USG matches up to 5% of employee's contribution.
  • Tax-free Housing - while SPS may be assigned to any foreign service post abroad, current requirements exist in Kabul, Afghanistan; Peshawar, Pakistan and Baghdad, Iraq. At all posts overseas, housing is provided at no cost to the employee.
  • Application for Special Agent (SA) Position: There is no direct transition from the SPS to the SA position.

^Top of page^

[This is a mobile copy of Security Protective Specialist]

Short URL: