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A Day In The Life Of A Secret Service Agent

Updated October 22, 2018 98.1k views13 items

The people who undertake Secret Service training keep presidents, vice presidents, first families, and even candidates safe. But their own lives can be incredibly dangerous.

The Secret Service agent job description includes both protection and investigation. Being an agent may seem glamorous, but it's often anything but. Agents spend long hours watching crowds for suspicious behavior, constantly functioning on high alert. They carry weapons, investigate crimes, secure locations, and keep some of the most powerful people in the world safe.

These dedicated agents occasionally struggle to find a good work/life balance, and maintaining relationships can get tricky. They take the good with the bad, though, serving tirelessly no matter which president holds office.

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    They Do A Lot Of Prep Work

    Before agents receive protective details, they must spend at least two years working investigative cases. Even former military officers and special forces veterans take part in extensive investigative training. Secret Service members who receive bodyguard details secure their surroundings before the president or important official arrive.

    Most field agents also conduct interviews and take part in briefings, to remain informed about their charge's activities.

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    They Never Stop Training

    Secret Service trainees study for months at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA, before moving to a 14-week specialized program at a facility outside Washington, DC. Agents then study "police procedures, firearms, physical fitness, psychology, police-community relations, criminal law, first aid, laws of arrest, search and seizure, physical defense techniques, diplomatic immunity, international treaties and protocol." 

    Next, future special agents take an 18-week course, where they learn to recognize fraud, illegal behaviors, and signs of sickness.

    On-the-job training is essential, too; potential threats change and evolve all the time. 

  • Photo: Shutterstock

    Sleeping And Eating Well Can Be Rare Luxuries 

    While on certain protective assignments, agents might never get time off, severely limiting their ability to sleep or grab a good meal. Agents receive training to function on a sleep deficit, and learn to overcome some of the physical and mental difficulties caused by exhaustion and travelling through timezones.

    It's not unusual for some agents to go 24 hours without sleeping or eating. They typically ignore their hunger when the president goes out to eat, and agents even watch certain chefs prepare meals to prevent poisoning.

  • They Learn To Perform '10-Minute Medicine'

    Secret Service agents often grapple with medical emergencies. Whether they are on protective duty or an investigative assignment, they must be prepared.

    When traveling, the president is never more than 10 minutes away from a medical facility, so agents receive 10-minute medicine training - learning life-sustaining measures for the time until they reach a professional.