Career and Job Search Guide

Homeland Security Agent Salary

The Department of Homeland Security is in essence a merger of what used to be 22 separate federal law enforcement agencies with two different pay scales. The two pay scales are the GS scale and the Pay Band. Most agencies (i.e. FBI, CIA, Customs, etc.) employ the GS scale, with only a few criminal investigative departments using the pay band scale.

The GS scale, the most commonly used pay scale, has 15 levels or "grades", with 10 steps each. The ranks are based on the position that an agent has achieved. With a few exceptions, most federal law enforcement agences start at either the Grade 7 pr 9 and promote agents to up to grade 13 over time. The individual steps go up one each year, then every other year after that.

The GS pay scale is based on a standardized pay per grade. However, since costs of living differ from country to country, state to state, and city to city, a "locality" pay system has been established to compensate agents depending on where they are assigned. The locality pay is added to agents' base pay. The locality pay is typically based on a percentage of an agent's base pay that can vary from 13.85% to 34.35%.

Finally, agents may also receive "availability" pay. Instead of being compensate for overtime at a rate equal to time and a half of their regular pay, agents are paid a flat rate of 25% of the base pay added to their annual salary in order to make sure they're covered for all the extra hours they will need to work. Better yet, availability pay does not include any planned overtime or vacation pay, which are paid at double time. Availability is referred to as "LEAP", which stands for Law Enforcement Availability Pay.

Once everything is added together a Homeland Security agent may make anywhere from $35,000 a year on the low end to well over $100,000 a year on the high end.

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