Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Special Agent Careers

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement manages the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division, which is the largest investigative force in the Department of Homeland Security.  HSI is tasked with maintaining national security and public safety through the detection and neutralization of domestic and international terrorists and criminals. Using an arsenal of investigative techniques, technological innovations, and intelligence apparatus, Special Agents pursue and apprehend those who wish to harm the United States.

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ICE special agents who conduct civil, criminal and administrative investigations utilize intelligence and law enforcement resources unique to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as those found throughout the federal government. Special agents often supervise and develop plans for major law enforcement and national security operations.

ICE Special Agent Job Description

ICE special agent jobs involve crime prevention in many domains, including money laundering, narcotics trafficking, child exploitation, counter terrorism, illegal arms and technology export, human trafficking, smuggling, and financial crimes.  Special agents conduct major operations to foil terrorists, gangs and other illegal networks by disrupting the transfer of funds and resources, interdicting materials and weapons, and apprehending key individuals.

An ICE special agent is expected to perform the following job duties:

  • Maintain knowledge about existing, developing and potential threats to national security
  • Obtain operational knowledge about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
  • Investigate the crimes and actions of suspected criminals originating abroad
  • Disrupt the activities of gangs, terrorists, human traffickers, drug smugglers and financial criminals
  • Pursue and capture fugitives and suspected threats
  • Investigate the dealings of U.S. companies or professionals that may be selling U.S. weapons or proprietary technology
  • Infiltrate and gain intelligence on criminal or terrorist networks operating within and outside of the country
  • Investigate organizations or persons providing material, financial or informational support to transnational criminals, foreign powers or organizations
  • Detect and eliminate operations involving immigration fraud, child exploitation, or customs trade fraud
  • Gather intelligence on the proliferation of restricted weapons technology
  • Collaborate with intelligence, defense and diplomatic agencies about growing threats and operations

Salary and Job Benefits of ICE Special Agents

ICE agents may enter the bureau with a GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9 pay rating. After some years of service an ICE field agent may achieve the pay rating of GS-12.  For 2012, the salary ranges for these levels were as follows:

  • General Schedule 5:  $27,431-$35,657
  • General Schedule 7:  $33,979-$44,176
  • General Schedule 9:  $41,563-$54,028
  • General Schedule 12:  $60,274-$78,355

Each pay level has ten steps which must be achieved in order to gain the next GS level. Each step provides an incremental increase in salary.  These are only the base salaries and may be increased according to the cost of living where the assigned field office is located.

As federal law enforcement officials, ICE special agents are also provided with Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) which is an additional 25 percent of the base salary.  This additional salary is meant to compensate law enforcement officers for their long hours, high risk and around-the-clock availability.  As a result, ICE special agents do not receive additional pay for overtime or holiday hours.

In addition to the lucrative salary, ICE special agents also receive numerous job benefits including:

  • A number of available health insurance plans
  • Flexible Spending Accounts which provide additional coverage for medical expenses
  • Paid training
  • Personal leave days
  • Ten paid holidays annually
  • Thrift Savings Plan which provides savings for retirement similar to a 401k
  • Transportation subsidies
  • Variety of federal employee or law enforcement retirement benefit plans
  • Life insurance plans
  • Long term care insurance plans
  • Tuition reimbursement and assistance
  • Uniform stipend

Go here to learn more about how to become an ICE special agent.

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