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Federal Protective Service Officer Description & Career Outlook

The US Federal Protective Service (FPS) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. FPS officers provide security and law enforcement services to buildings that are used by the federal General Services Administration (GSA), including federal courthouses.

Federal Protective Service Officer Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

FPS officers provide protection for more than 9,000 federal buildings. Most FPS officers are uniformed law enforcement agents who question criminal suspects, prevent crimes if possible, arrest offenders, and assist police. In addition to the uniformed officers, there is a small group of plainclothes special agents, a physical security force, and a support services division, which contracts with private security firms to support the FPS mission. FPS officers:

  • Conduct physical security surveys
  • Monitor security devices and systems
  • Present formal crime prevention and security awareness programs
  • Provide a visible law enforcement presence in federal buildings

How to Become a Federal Protective Service Officer: Requirements and Qualifications

Prospective FPS officers must:

  • Be a minimum of 21 years of age
  • Have a driver’s license
  • Qualify with a service revolver
  • Pass mandatory training at the Federal Law Enforcement Center
  • Possess American citizenship
  • Successfully complete a physical examination

Employment with the FPS is very competitive. Most FPS employees have at least a bachelor’s degree, and some have master’s degrees or above.

Federal Protective Service Officer Job Training

Candidates with preliminary offers of employment must complete training at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Glynco, Georgia. Training covers such areas as handling K9 officers, responding to hazardous materials, and working with weapons of mass destruction.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Prospective FPS officers should have strong communication skills, excellent physical fitness, and a broad law enforcement skill set. Candidates with previous law enforcement, military, or security experience may have a hiring advantage.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Law enforcement security officer
  • Physical security investigator

Career Opportunities and Employers

Federal Protective Service officers may work as law enforcement security officers or criminal investigators. Officers who excel in their positions may advance to such posts as protective security program manager or mission support specialist.

Federal Protective Service Salary and Outlook

FPS officers are paid according to the government’s General Schedule (GS) salary structure, which sets salary levels based on experience and education. View current General Schedule rates at the US Office of Personnel Management website.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

Is previous law enforcement experience necessary?

No, although it can provide an advantage in the hiring process. All FPS officers must successfully complete training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia.

How many federal sites is the Federal Protective Service responsible for protecting?

FPS officers provide protective services to an estimated 9,000 federal sites throughout the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

How many FPS officers work for the Federal Protective Service?

The FPS has officers reporting directly to the division as well as protective officers who are contracted through private security firms. According to the FPS, over 1,300 officers and specialists work directly for the agency, which oversees a further 13,000 contract officers.1

Where does the Federal Protective Service have field offices?

For the purposes of the FPS, the country has been divided into 11 regions, including: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City (Missouri), Grand Prairie (Texas), Denver, San Francisco, Federal Way (Washington State), and the National Capital Region (Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia). Each field office is responsible for protecting the facilities in its jurisdiction.

Additional Resources

Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Programs

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1. US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service Operations: https://www.dhs.gov/fps-operations