Working for Law Enforcement

In Natural Resource Law Enforcement

The USDA Forest Service is an exciting, dynamic, multicultural, and many-faceted organization, with employees engaged in virtually every profession and skill area. Reflecting the Nation's diverse population, the Forest Service is a leader in offering equal employment opportunities. Here is where your future and career could begin!

As custodian of the National Forests and Grasslands, the Forest Service manages ecosystems on 191 million acres of the Nation's lands. Resources on these lands are diverse, including range, timber, minerals, watersheds, wilderness, fish, and wildlife-each with cultural, scientific, recreational, or natural scenic values.

The Forest Service is dedicated to the management, protection, and efficient use of the National Forests and Grasslands, ensuring that they continue to provide sustainable yields of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, timber, and outdoor recreation. The Forest Service protects lands and resources within its jurisdiction from wildfires, diseases, and forest insects, and from unfortunate instances of theft and vandalism.

Law enforcement is essential to the management, use, and protection of National Forest lands and associated resources. The Forest Service currently employs over 800 law enforcement personnel nationwide. With the rising number of visitors to the National Forests and Grasslands, the need for law enforcement personnel continues to grow.

Special Agent (GS-1811 Series)

Special Agents are criminal investigators who plan and conduct investigations concerning possible violations of criminal and administrative provisions of the Forest Service and other statutes under the United States Code. In addition, Special Agents:

  • carry firearms
  • arrest violators
  • prepare investigative reports
  • present cases for prosecution to U.S. Attorneys
  • maintain liaison with local, State, and Federal agencies
  • work independently, with little or no supervision

Special Agent positions are located throughout the Nation, primarily in rural areas. Generally, only one Special Agent is assigned to an office.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or 3 years of experience in criminal law enforcement, criminal investigation, and/or related professions. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be substituted; one academic year of full-time undergraduate study is equivalent to 9 months of experience. Persons age 37 or older are not eligible for appointment unless they are presently in a Federal civilian law enforcement position or have served in such a position in the past.

Initial appointments are generally made at grade GS-5. Career progression to grades GS-7 and GS-9 generally requires a minimum of 1 year at each grade level and a supervisor's recommendation that the employee is ready for advancement to the next level. Promotions to higher grade levels and supervisory levels are made through the competitive procedures of the Federal Merit Promotion System.

Uniformed Law Enforcement Officer (GS-1802 Series)

Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers enforce Federal laws and regulations governing National Forest lands and resources. They establish a regular and recurring presence on vast amounts of public land, roads, and campgrounds, taking appropriate action when illegal activity is observed. In addition, Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers:

  • work closely and maintain liaison with local, State, and other Federal law enforcement officials
  • conduct informational and educational programs
  • provide emergency medical aid
  • eliminate hazardous situations
  • enforce drug control laws on National Forest lands
  • assist outside agencies in conducting search and rescue missions on National Forest lands
  • assist Special Agents in executing search warrants

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or 1 year of experience in criminal law enforcement or related professions. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be substituted. Initial appointments are generally made at grade GS-5. Promotions to higher grade levels and supervisory levels are made through the competitive procedures of the Federal Merit Promotion System.

Special Agents and Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers must:

  • meet basic educational and experience prerequisites successfully complete a basic law enforcement course and pass the Physical Efficiency Battery of tests (training is held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia) pass a special background investigation conducted initially and periodically
  • pass a drug urinalysis test
  • pass a qualifying test in the use of firearms initially and every 6 months thereafter
  • successfully complete 1 year of field training
  • demonstrate emotional and mental stability
  • be in excellent physical condition
  • possess a valid driver's license

As Federal employees, Forest Service law enforcement personnel are eligible for many benefits, including:

  • vacation and sick leave
  • life and health insurance
  • a retirement program
  • basic and follow-up training
  • advancement opportunities

Special Agents and Law Enforcement Officers with at least 20 years of Federal law enforcement service are eligible for special retirement at age 50, with mandatory retirement at age 57. This special provision also applies to those who enter this position from other Federal law enforcement agencies.

Forest Service law enforcement personnel work outdoors in an interesting and exciting environment. Learning about ecosystem management and the diversity of natural resources can be personally rewarding. Patrolling in public areas, protecting the Nation's flora and fauna, and responding to crisis situations on National Forest lands help to make Forest Service agents and officers some of the most visible and respected members of the Federal law enforcement service.

Law enforcement positions are normally advertised and filled by the Special Agent in Charge in the region with the vacancy. The Forest Service has offices throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico.

Applicants should contact the nearest Forest Service Regional Office or Forest Supervisor's Office for information on law enforcement vacancies, the Forest Service law enforcement program, or the application process in general. The Office of Personnel Management at the local Federal Job Information Center will also have information on Forest Service vacancies.

 

Vacancy announcements typically list the steps to follow in preparing and submitting an application for Federal employment. These announcements provide brief job descriptions, opening and closing dates for applications, and the address to which applications must be sent.

For additional information, please contact the following:

Headquarters Office:
USDA Forest Service
Washington Office
Personnel Management Staff (Rosslyn)
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20013-6090
703-235-JOBS
703-235-8102

Or visit the Office of Personnel Management Internet Web site for up to date information about job vacancies.

Or visit the Main Forest Service employment web page

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status

Key Contacts

 

For additional information, please contact the following:

Headquarters Office:
USDA Forest Service
Washington Office
Personnel Management Staff (Rosslyn)
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20013-6090
703-235-JOBS
703-235-8102