Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT)

A Career in the Foreign Service

The U.S. Department of State is the United States’ premier diplomatic institution, with opportunities for law enforcement professionals to serve our country overseas and domestically. If you are interested in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we are now hiring Foreign Service Diplomatic Security Special Agents.

Among the many benefits you will receive are: paid housing or a housing allowance, when serving overseas, health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, paid education for dependent children in K-12 overseas, generous paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures.

To learn more about the Department of State and a career in the Foreign Service, please visit us at careers.state.gov. For information on Diplomatic Security positions in the Department of State, please visit us at careers.state.gov/ds.

U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT)

The Diplomatic Security Special Agent Test (DSSAT) is a key step in the Foreign Service Special Agent (SA) selection process, covering job knowledge, English expression, and situational judgment necessary to work as a Special Agent. You can view complete information on the DSSA Selection Process.

The DSSAT is conveniently offered throughout the U.S., likely in a location near you, and is available Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Some test centers offer testing Monday through Sunday with some evening hours. Click here to find a test center near you.

Please note: New candidates must create a web account before they can submit an application.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, the U.S. Department of State requires that each candidate be:

  • Be a U.S. citizen and accept assignments based on the needs of the FS.
  • At least 20 years old to apply and not older than 36 years old (preference eligible veterans are excepted).
  • Fit for physical exertion and pass a pre-employment physical readiness test.
  • Able to obtain/maintain a Top Secret Security Clearance and TS/SCI access.
  • Be able to meet the minimum medical qualification standard and pass supplemental medical requirements.
  • Be able to obtain a favorable Suitability Review Panel determination.
  • Able to testify in court.
  • Must be willing to use and carry firearms throughout your career.
  • Must have a current, valid U.S. Driver’s License.

Education and Experience Requirements

At the time of application, you must possess at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and at least one year of work experience and/or academic achievements that reflect progressively increasing levels of responsibility. Those who apply, pass the online test and pass the minimum qualifications review will be required to submit their undergraduate transcripts.

Applicants with 18 credit hours of graduate level study may substitute that academic achievement for a year of work experience. Applicants who do not have a minimum of 18 credit hours of graduate study may substitute the following educational achievements for one year of work experience: 2.75 GPA (or above) for the bachelor’s degree and two internships totaling at least four months duration. Graduate transcripts will be required as well for those who pass the minimum qualifications and are substituting graduate education for experience.

Please refer to the Vacancy Announcement for complete information on eligibility requirements and qualifications.

If you have questions about the DS SA Selection Process, please email us at DSRecruitment@state.gov.

Collection of No-Show Fees

The DSSAT is offered for free. However, please note that Department of State requires that candidates provide credit/debit card information to Pearson VUE (the test administrator) in order to complete the registration process. The card will be charged $5 to hold the appointment. This fee is fully refundable and will be credited back to the credit/debit card a few weeks after you test. If, however, a candidate either does not take the test or does not cancel an appointment at least 48 hours in advance, the card will be charged an additional $40 for a total no-show fee assessment of $45.

Registering for the DSSAT

Candidates must complete two registration steps: submitting an application and selecting an appointment. Applicants have six months to schedule an appointment for the gateway test, however due to required administrative processes, the appointment must be made within eight weeks of the desired testing date. If you would like to schedule an appointment further than eight weeks out, you will need to log back into this system closer to the date you wish to schedule the test to make a request. Once an application is submitted it cannot be changed until the six months have passed. Candidates may test only once in a 12-month period.

Plagiarism & AI Policy

  • The Department of State prohibits candidates from plagiarizing any portion of their employment application materials to include responses to questions in which candidates must provide a narrative response.  Candidates must create their own responses originally and not copy or adapt them from other sources. The Department analyzes candidate submissions for plagiarism and will discontinue any individual’s candidacy if found to have violated this plagiarism policy. 
  • While the Department of State encourages candidates to create their narratives with great care, including correct use of grammar and style, candidates are prohibited from using any artificial intelligence (AI) tool, to include but not limited to ChatGPT, to aid in their written responses.  The Department will discontinue any individual’s candidacy if found to have violated this prohibition on use of AI tools in the application process. 

AUTHORITIES: The information is sought pursuant to 301(b) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 3941(b)).

PURPOSE: The information solicited on this form will be used to determine eligibility to take the DSSA Test, to register for the DSSA Test, to assess qualifications for selection as a Diplomatic Security Special Agent, and to ensure the integrity of the examination process.

Last updated 2024-02-09