Federal Protective Service Officer Description & Career Outlook

The US Federal Protective Service (FPS), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the organizations of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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

FPS officers provide protection for more than 9,000 federal buildings and the employees that work there. In fact, the FPS provides security in all types of situations, including HAZMAT, weapons of mass destruction, and emergency response. 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. 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 meet eligibility requirements, including:

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

Employment with the FPS is very competitive. In fact, most FPS employees have at least a bachelor’s degree, and some have master’s degrees or a doctorate.

Federal Protective Service Officer Job Training

Candidates must complete mandatory training at the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Glynco, Georgia. Training covers such areas as how to handle 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 and pay careful attention to details. Those 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 are employed by the Federal Protective Service, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Officers just joining the Federal Protective Service may work as a law enforcement security officer or a criminal investigator. Those officers who excel in their positions may advance to such posts as protective security program manager, budget analyst, or mission support specialist.

Federal Protective Service Salary and Outlook

FPS officers participate in the government’s salary structure and may be hired at different GS levels depending on prior experience and education. View the current General Schedule rate at the US Office of Personnel Management website.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

Is previous law enforcement experience necessary?
No. 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 contracts its protective officers, of whom there are an estimated 14,200.

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 their jurisdiction.

Additional Resources

Department of Homeland Security: The Federal Protective Service – An overview of the protective services offered by The Federal Protective Service.

The Federal Protective Service Reform Act – An official government statement outlining the changes to the Federal Protective Service Reform Act, including training information for prospective FPS officers.

The Federal Protective Service – Careers with the Federal Protective Service: An explanation of the FPS’s role and responsibilities and career options with the organization.

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Page Edited by Charles Sipe.