The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is a law enforcement agency that falls under the United States Department of Justice. The DEA is charged with being the primary organization in the U.S. to fight drug smuggling and usage within the U.S. In addition to being the primary or lead agency for domestic U.S. enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (sharing jurisdiction with the FBI and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), it also has the primary responsibility for pursing drug investigations abroad for the U.S. Although not commonly thought of for post-military or police employment, DEA jobs can be a good fit for those seeking out exciting career opportunities similar to those experienced while in the service.
The DEA was first established by President Richard Nixonon July 1, 1973 under the Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1973. The plan created a signal
U.S. Federal Agency tasked to enforce Federal drug laws and to consolidate all of the government’s drug control activities under a single organization. As part of the DEA formation, the Office of Drug Abuse Law enforcement (ODALE), the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and several other federal offices were merged into the DEA.
The DEA’s headquarters has been located in Washington, D.C. since the creation of the organization in order to be in close proximity to the Attorney General. Needing to expand in 1989, the HQ was moved to Army-Navy Drive located in Arlington, Virginia near the D.C. Metro where it remains today.
In mid-April, 1995 (April 19th), Timothy McVeigh was responsible for attacking the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in order to target the ATF, FBI, and DEA. McVeigh conducted the attack because he felt as though these organizations were responsible for conducting raids that were unjustified intrusions of the rights of the people targeted. As a result of the attack, two DEA employees lost their life in addition to two contractors, and one task force member. The DEA would go on to establish a Digital Evidence Lab in the Office of Forensic Sciences in February of 2003.
What Does the DEA Do?
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) is the only single-mission federal agency in the United States who has the primary goal of drug law enforcement. The organization leverages their operational expertise and intelligence capabilities to ID, investigate, disrupt, and ultimately dismantle major drug trafficking organizations as those who help them. The organization also helps remove violent criminals from society, drugs, and fight all manners of illicit drugs. The mission statement of the agency is:
1. Enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States;
2. Bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent
jurisdiction, those involved in the illegal growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled
substances that are part of or destined for illicit drug markets in the United States; and,
3. Recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of
illicit controlled substances on domestic and international markets.
What Types of Jobs Are Available at the DEA?
Due to the operational nature of the DEA, there are jobs available across a variety of disciplines in the agency. If you have a combat-arms background and otherwise meet the other prerequisites at the DEA, you may find the opportunity to become a DEA special agent attractive. Other job specialties commonly available in addition to special agents include: intelligence research specialist, diversion investigator, forensic sciences, professional and administrative, and student/entry level positions.
How to Apply for a DEA Job
Since the DEA is a federal agency under the Department of Justice, its job application process has changed in recent years. It has moved to the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) USA Staffing and recruiting system. The USA Staffing application is designed by the federal government to meet the unique human resources requirements of each agency in the USG.
Step 1 – Navigate to the USAJOBs website and create an account. In order to successfully create an account you will have to fill out the required basic profile information (first/last name, home/cell phone numbers, address, and secret question answers).
Step 2 – Click the “Build New Resume” or “Upload New Resume” menu buttons located on the left-hand side of the webpage.
Step 3 – Begin your job search for DEA job vacancies by selecting the “Search Jobs” menu option of the USA Jobs webpage. In this section of the site, you can user keywords, locations, or manually seek out posted DEA job vacancies.
Step 4 – Add or remove filters on the left-hand side of the screen to further refine your job search.
Step 5 – Open a job announcement under the DEA that interests you.
Step 6 – Once you locate a DEA job you are interested in applying for, open the announcement and select the “Apply Online” menu button. Each job listing will have a “How to Apply” section listed under the listing
Step 7 – The website will now prompt you to select a resume and any required supporting documents for the job application. These will be linked to the application.
Step 8 – Certify that the information you are submitting is accurate and ensure you review the resume to make sure it is the right version to include with the DEA job application. If updating previously submitting applications, the resume and supporting documents must be resubmitted.
Step 9 – Select the “Apply for this position now” menu option. USAJOBS will redirect you to the “Application Manager.”
Step 10 – Enter your full name and social security number when prompted by the Application Manager (first time use). If you do not enter the correct social security number, it will negatively impact your ability to apply for a DEA job.
Step 11 – Verify the biographic data that is populated from your USAJOBS entries and continue to the Assessment Questionnaire.
Step 12 – Complete the required sections of the Assessment Questionnaire. These will be specific for the DEA job you are applying to fill.
Step 13 – Select the “Submit My Answers” menu button to complete the job application once you finish inputting all required information. If you skip any of the required sections of the job application, you will receive a warning at this point to go back and provide the missing information. If you skip a question within a section; however, the system will not provide a warning to you and it is recommended you review all responses before selecting the “Submit My Answers” menu option.
Step 14 – After submitting the application, you will receive an on-line confirmation message. Depending on the job, there may be additional requirements found under the “How to Apply” section of the job vacancy to complete before the application is considered complete.
Step 15 – Log out of the system at this point. USAJOBS will serve as the primary source of information regarding the status of your DEA job application from this point forward. If you are selected to move to the “Conditional” status of a DEA employee, you will be contacted by a human resources representative of the agency.
What Do DEA Special Agents Do?
Once an application to be a DEA Special Agent is received, the agency will make a conditional offer of employment to qualified applicants. Once this offer is made, the recruit will undergo 19 weeks of training that include firearms proficiency and basic marksmanship, tactical shooting, weapons safety, and deadly force decision training. To graduate recruit training, an average of 80 percent or above has to be maintained on all of the paper tests in the course, pass rigorous physical task tests, pass the firearms qual test, and demonstrate sound decision-making capability during practical scenarios. You will also undergo a polygraph test for many of the job positions at the DEA where you will be asked questions regarding any past drug use which can result in removal from consideration as a Special Agent.
Once hired, a DEA Special Agent is expected to be fairly flexible in his or her day-to-day job duties. These can range from going undercover to gain the confidence of suspected drug dealers, to analyzing evidence to help strengthen the Department of Justice’s case against an alleged offender. Special Agent duties also include interviewing people of interest who are likely to possess knowledge regarding suspects in drug related crimes and arresting individuals in drug trafficking or sales cases. Special Agents are also regularly asked to testify in court cases related to investigations they have worked.
Being able to follow strict protocols and guidelines in these cases is a key aspect of a DEA Special Agents job, as criminals can be found not guilty if evidence was improperly obtained or cataloged. As a result, the agency commonly seeks out new agents with a past history in law enforcement type of duties to become Special Agents. If you want to see if you possess the minimum requirements to be a DEA Special Agent, you can take their anonymous DEA Special Agent eligibility quiz before proceeding with your job application for the DEA.