Become A Special Agent

Office of Inspector General special agents support OIG’s mission by conducting worldwide investigations into allegations of criminal, civil, and administrative violations. Our special agents, whether Civil Service or Foreign Service Criminal Investigators, have full law enforcement officer authority and conduct interviews, surveillance, electronic monitoring, and undercover operations. They also issue subpoenas and execute arrest and search warrants. Agents and analysts are assigned to our headquarters office in Washington, DC, or to one of our international offices.

Learn how to Become A Civil Service Agent.
Learn how to Become a Foreign Service Agent.
Read more about our OIG Student Internship Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an 1811?

An 1811 is the Federal criminal investigator classification series established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. OPM defined this series to include positions that involve planning and conducting investigations relating to alleged or suspected violations of criminal laws.

2. What are the basic qualification standards for an 1811?


  • Have a valid state driver's license
  • Be between the age of 21-37
  • Be a U.S. Citizen

3. What are the working conditions for an 1811?

The Office of Personnel Management established specific physical requirements for criminal investigators. The duties of the position require moderate to arduous physical exertion involving walking and standing, using firearms, carrying out searches, making arrests, and working in inclement weather.

4. What are the physical fitness requirements for 1811s?

The Office of Inspector General has established medical standards for its special agents and encourages all investigators to participate in a voluntary exercise program. All job series 1811 investigators are subject to periodic fitness assessments using the Physical Efficiency Battery developed by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which measures percentage of body fat, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, agility, and strength. Further, OIG provides periodic refresher training, including physical conditioning, defensive tactics, and firearms training.

5. Is on-the-job training available?

Yes. All 1811s are required to complete basic criminal investigator training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Thereafter, agents are subject to annual physical fitness assessments, medical evaluations, and related skill certifications.

6. Do I have to accept every assignment that is offered?

Foreign Service personnel can express their preferences for postings, but must be willing to serve worldwide where assigned.

7. What is the Foreign Service?

The U.S. Foreign Service, a commissioned service of the U.S. Government, represents the United States around the world. Members of the Foreign Service serve at any of the 265 American Embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions around the world, as well as in Washington, DC, and other domestic offices. They represent America abroad by implementing the foreign policy of the United States, representing U.S. interests, and protecting the interests of American citizens. USAID OIG Foreign Service employees spend the majority of their careers living and working overseas. OIG currently operates investigations field offices in these overseas locations:

  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Tel Aviv, Israel

8. What are the benefits of living overseas?

  • Non-taxable, comfortable housing while at post
  • Non-taxable, cost-of-living allowances at designated posts
  • Educational allowance for dependents
  • Pay differential of 5% to 20% of basic salary at designated posts
  • Paid travel to and from post for employees and authorized dependents
  • Paid shipment of household goods
  • Paid shipment of motor vehicles
  • Paid foreign language training to obtain proficiency for some posts

9. Will I carry a weapon?

Yes. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296) gives special agents employed in designated offices of inspector general, including USAID’s, full statutory law enforcement authority. The Attorney General subsequently issued "Guidelines for Offices of Inspector General with Statutory Law Enforcement Authority." These guidelines authorize all special agents to carry firearms, make arrests, and conduct searches and seizures. An exception may be made when agents are posted overseas, where authorization depends on the country. The Attorney General guidelines also permit inspectors general to authorize special agents to carry their duty-issued firearms while off duty. USAID OIG Office of Investigations allows agents to carry firearms while off duty, as long as they comply with the standards set forth in internal policy.

10. Is there a service/tenure provision for retirement?

Yes. You will be subject to mandatory retirement at age 57 if you occupy a law enforcement position and have completed the necessary 20 years of service. If you have not completed the 20 years, you will be separated at the end of the month in which you complete 20 years of law enforcement service. You must be given a 60-day notice before mandatory separation.

11. How do I apply?

The Office of Inspector General accepts applications with the required information for announced job vacancies. Requirements may differ from one vacancy to another, so interested candidates should review the requirements carefully. All OIG vacancy announcements are posted on the USAJOBS website managed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as well as on OIG’s website: Careers.

12. What is Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP)?

Availability pay is a type of premium pay for Federal law enforcement officers who are special agents in the Civil Service. LEAP acknowledges the amounts of "unscheduled duty" in excess of the 40-hour administrative workweek that special agents are required to work or be available to work. To qualify, applicants must work an average of 2 extra hours per day. LEAP is fixed at 25 percent of basic pay.

13. How do Foreign Service Special Agents qualify for Special Differential Pay?

Special differential pay replaces Law Enforcement Availability Pay when Foreign Service special agents are commissioned by Congress after serving a minimum of 2 years at an overseas post, within a 5-year period from their start date. Foreign Service Officers must be recommended for commissioning based on their performance reviews and other factors. The decision to tenure a candidate is made by the Foreign Service Officer Commissioning and Tenuring Board, which reviews the candidate’s past performance and potential to achieve what is required for the highest level of Foreign Service.

Foreign Service special agents must accrue the same amount of overtime as required for LEAP to earn special differential pay.