ICE Special Agent Career, Salary and Training Info

The largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has over 19,000 employees working in 400 locations worldwide.

ICE Special Agent Requirements

To apply for a position as a special agent with ICE you must be less than 37 years of age, be a U.S. citizen and must have resided in the United States for three of the past five years.

ICE Special Agents are authorized to carry firearms. A person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot possess a firearm or ammunition and cannot apply to become an ICE special agent.

Six to twelve weeks after an initial written examination, you will be scheduled for a day of testing which will include a structured oral interview, a writing sample assessment and a personal interview.

The oral interview is used to assess the applicant’s judgment/decision making abilities, interpersonal skills, emotional maturity and sensitivity to the needs of others. Candidates must receive a “pass” in all areas to move forward in the hiring process.

ICE Special Agent BadgeFor the writing analysis test, you will write a narrative report based on a provided photograph and your writing will be evaluated based on organization, ideas, grammar, spelling and punctuation.

In addition to the tests above, applicants must meet medical and physical requirements with specific eyesight and hearing limits required.

ICE Special Agent Education and Training

As a new ICE Special Agent, you will attend 22 weeks of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Georgia. Further mandatory training may be required for specialized assignments.

You will be required to carry a firearm and maintain your shooting proficiency. Also you must sustain your health and physical fitness levels after basic training. A mobility agreement is required of new agents and you must be willing to accept employment at any location offered to you.

You will remain at the location of your first duty station for a minimum of three years and may be reassigned to a new location with little advance notice.

ICE Special Agent Salary

The salary range for an ICE Special Agent is $40,000 – $68,000. There is an added Law Enforcement Availability Pay and ICE agents qualify for Federal benefits. Retirement is at age 50 or after 20 years of service.

Relocation fees may be covered when special agents are reassigned to new locations but moving expenses are not paid for newly hired agents reporting to their first posted assignment.

ICE Career Opportunities

ICE special agents face a variety of challenging tasks involving national security threats, terrorism, drug smuggling, human trafficking, financial crimes, illegal arms exports and more.

ICE Special Agent vacancies are not posted on the OPM’s jobs website. To learn how to become an ICE special agent, contact the nearest Special Agent in Charge office and ask to speak to the special agent recruiter.

Once you have met all requirements, passed the required tests, interviews and background check, you will be placed on a waiting list. When an opening occurs a firm offer will be made to you and you will be advised of your duty location and give a date to report to work. This offer may come 6-9 months or even longer after you receive clearance.

Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

64 comments… add one
  • Christopher Piekunka

    I am retiring from the Military, are there waivers for military on age requirements. I will be thirty nine years of age. i am available starting 3 Dec 2010, starts term leave, and last day of service is 28 Feb 2011. May i still apply for a position with ICE?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      As far as I know there are age waiver programs for military veterans when it comes to Federal employment. I don’t know if ICE has one, but I think it just might.

    • ABEL

      I just did the interview Monday and passed, the new age limit for ICE has been bumped up to 40 for those retiring from the military (mandatory retirement at 60). I am 37 and qualify for both options under the age part. Contact a recruiter in order to see when ICE will be hiring since I was told that they are not hiring anyone for 2011, but since I had completed all prior pre-requisites I was allowed to interview. I spent 10 years on Active duty and that is a leg up with ICE, however, they are not hiring for FY11 I was luck since I did a lot of the process before they put the freeze in effect.

      • Carlos

        Hey Abel I also did my interview last week.. are you sure they are not hiring for the rest of the year? i did all of my steps this year…

    • Mark Aton

      Christopher, first of all, thank you for your service to your country.
      The age 37 max entry age is set by congress and cannot be waived, unless very special circumstances are present. Currently , I am almost positive there is no waiver , even for retiring military.
      I’m a retired DHS ICE Special Agent and try to keep up with issues like yours. Try State, or local law enforcement opportunities, they are not as stringent on the age issue.
      Good Luck !

      • alishia

        I am 17 years old working on my degree my dream is working for ice being an intake or transport officer i am very fluent in spanish I am also very fluent in english my husband was born in the usa but speaks very little english we have been together for 3 years i have been speaking spanish for 7 years i am very good at it i have been in trouble with the law for d.u.i.o.a. do you think i have a good chance to get a job what degree should i go for i am starting to look in college with in the next to months and long will this degree take to complete..

        • HSI

          I’d suggest applying to become a CBP Officer. That will get your foot in the door MUCH faster and you’re covered LEO position and non-competitive up to GS12.

      • Temur

        Hello, I’m 22 years old and studying in CJS. I am looking forward to accomplish my 2 year associated degree and start my career working for TSA. But what chances do I have in the future to become an ICE agent. I mean, what obstacles could arise? I am not drinking, not using any drugs, and my background is clear like new born baby=)

  • Jacob, Agulera

    I get out in FEB 2011, I will be 36. Can I apply for ICE now and get all the testing I have to do. So that when I get out I can join if accepted to ICE?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      It would be wise to apply ASAP. You can apply when new job postings are visible on

  • Edgar Diaz

    I am currently obtaining my degree in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Homeland Security… When I was 18 I was charged with a felony case where I plead no contest and adjudication was withheld. Would I be able to apply for a federal job upon completion of my degree? ICE is my career goal.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Edgar, I know that many law enforcement agencies frown upon felonies – at any status. HOWEVER, each agency has their own rules and regulations. Your best bet is to hear it from a recruiter at ICE or visit their website and check out their “career” section and any available FAQ sections.

  • Kevin

    Do you know the next time they will post an announcement for IEA agents on usajobs? I’m assuming at the beginning of the next fiscal year, but it has already been a year since the last announcement.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      I find it that postings on USAJobs happen mostly when a particular agency will NEED to fill certain positions. I wouldn’t count on a predetermined date as it’s rarely seen that they’ll post their job openings in January, for example.

  • eric

    Is a four year degree mandatory? I have a pretty impressive resume otherwise.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Straight from


      GL-5: You qualify at the GL-5 level if you possess three (3) years of progressively responsible experience, one (1) year of which was equivalent to the GL-4 level or above. Examples includes analyzing problems to identify significant factors, gather pertinent data, and recognize solutions; planning and organizing work; and communicating effectively orally and in writing.

      That seems to be the absolute minimum qualification step

      OR if you don’t have work experience,

      GL-5: You may substitute successful completion of a Bachelor’s degree or a full 4-year course of study in any field of study leading to a Bachelor’s degree for the experience required at the GL-5 level