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What does an NSA police officer do?

NSA police officer at a glance

Where you’ll work: At any National Security Agency (NSA) facility in Fort Meade, Maryland or elsewhere, as needed.

What you’ll do: You’ll participate in regular federal law enforcement duties, protect NSA facilities, participate in counterterrorist operations and administer weapons training to other NSA employees. You’ll perform any and all duties required to fulfill the NSA mission, which is to provide homeland security and critical information to America’s leaders in order to defend the country, protect lives and advance U.S. alliances globally.

Degree you’ll need: Bachelor’s degree

Median annual NSA police officer salary: $65,790

In this article

What is an NSA police officer?

NSA police officers work for the National Security Agency (NSA), located in Fort Meade, Maryland. NSA police officers are tasked with protecting NSA buildings, resources, equipment and personnel.

The NSA assigns NSA police officers various duties. The officers may patrol and monitor NSA property, assist with vehicle traffic control and train new officers. NSA offers may also be asked to help with counterterrorism defenses, and may assist with crisis or emergency situations that occur, like fire emergencies.

Where NSA police officers may work:

NSA headquarters located in Fort Meade, Maryland

Cryptologic centers in Hawaii, Colorado, Georgia and Texas

Signals Intelligence or Information Assurance divisions

Since the NSA is highly regulated, candidates interested in becoming an NSA police officer must be highly qualified. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, applicants should have at least two years of related experience and must also complete a multi-month suitability process to qualify for the position.

Role of the NSA police officer

NSA police officers’ primary responsibilities are to protect the NSA’s facilities and personnel. However, the police officers may be asked to respond to emergency situations or to investigate crimes that occur on the NSA property or that involve NSA employees. Police officers might inspect vehicles, personnel and facilities, and might help with emergency mitigation and counterterrorism efforts.

NSA police officers’ primary responsibilities are to protect the NSA’s facilities and personnel.

Since police officers play such an important role and may need a somewhat versatile skill set, they must be highly trained and qualified to perform in their roles. All NSA police officers carry firearms and must pass rigorous psychological and physical testing.

NSA police officer requirements


The NSA has strict requirements for police officer applicants. To start, applicants must be United States citizens and have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. Applicants must also have at least two years of experience in law enforcement or in a related field.

NSA application requirements include several elements. Candidates must complete a profile that includes basic demographic information, and they must include a resume with education information and job history. When completing the application, applicants will need to answer questions about their job qualifications and competencies. Candidates cannot have any prior felony convictions and they must be able to obtain a firearm license.

During the pre-employment process, the NSA often conducts interviews virtually or over the phone. Candidates can complete live or pre-recorded interviews. After a successful interview, the NSA may extend a conditional job offer, which includes a salary offer.


Before being hired, candidates must also complete the NSA’s suitability process. The process begins with submitting security forms. From there, the NSA may perform a background investigation, verifying details about previous employment, education and residences. The NSA may contact neighbors, supervisors, coworkers and friends to confirm this information.

Candidates will also undergo a polygraph examination process, typically answering questions related to counterintelligence and suitability. Separately, candidates will complete the Psychological Assessment Battery, which is a series of tests designed to evaluate psychological functioning. They will also have an interview with a clinical psychologist.

Physical fitness

NSA police officer candidates must also be able to pass the Physical Efficiency Battery, a rigorous test of candidates’ fitness levels. The test contains five different components:

  • Body composition: Measurements of body fat are taken at three different sites to calculate the percentage of body fat.
  • Illinois agility run: Candidates start by laying on the floor, then must get up and spring 30 feet, then return. Candidates will navigate 4 obstacles over a 40-foot area, then return through the obstacles before completing another 30-foot spring and return to the starting position.
  • Sit and reach: Candidates must sit on the floor, then bend at the waist and push a block down on a measuring device. The test measures the candidate’s lower back, leg and shoulder flexibility.
  • Bench press: Candidates must press weight straight up until their arms are locked, measuring their upper body strength.
  • 1.5-mile run: Candidates must run 1.5 miles on a track in order to measure their cardio and respiratory fitness.

Successful candidates must complete the 12-week Uniformed Police Training Program before officially becoming NSA police officers. The training program explores law enforcement topics that police officers will need to understand or perform during their careers. Topics include behavioral science, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, driving, enforcement operations, firearms, investigative operations, leadership training and legal and physical techniques and skills.

Benefits of working as an NSA police officer

Becoming an NSA police officer can be a highly demanding career, but it can also be rewarding in multiple ways. The NSA works to prevent and eradicate threats to United States security systems, advancing the country’s cybersecurity defenses. By working to protect the NSA, NSA police officers play a key role in the country’s security. Officers have the satisfaction of knowing that their work is vital to the country—and can earn great benefits in the process.

NSA police officer salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t specifically cite salaries for NSA police officers but they do record national and state pay for police and sheriff’s patrol officers. Here are salaries at the median national hourly and annual salary level, and by state.

Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers
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Median Hourly Wage$32

Job growth3.3%

Total Employment655,890

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
Alabama $47,210 $31,650 $66,660
Alaska $82,300 $43,060 $122,790
Arizona $67,310 $50,660 $82,360
Arkansas $39,040 $28,970 $62,260
California $104,160 $65,890 $134,010
Colorado $82,250 $57,920 $99,740
Connecticut $80,330 $56,830 $95,190
Delaware $78,640 $55,590 $100,730
District of Columbia $78,540 $62,440 $102,500
Florida $63,860 $45,970 $101,480
Georgia $48,610 $36,170 $63,260
Hawaii $86,080 $67,490 $109,580
Idaho $59,930 $44,610 $80,190
Illinois $86,130 $49,010 $101,430
Indiana $62,200 $46,190 $76,450
Iowa $62,820 $46,940 $85,530
Kansas $48,890 $35,510 $77,240
Kentucky $47,580 $34,820 $63,660
Louisiana $44,620 $29,080 $59,520
Maine $58,030 $43,350 $72,180
Maryland $74,450 $52,340 $94,060
Massachusetts $73,390 $48,700 $98,020
Michigan $64,950 $44,500 $80,660
Minnesota $78,710 $50,420 $98,530
Mississippi $37,240 $25,360 $51,310
Missouri $51,090 $35,690 $78,620
Montana $60,520 $45,540 $76,370
Nebraska $62,070 $46,910 $82,230
Nevada $74,110 $58,160 $92,780
New Hampshire $59,480 $47,480 $80,120
New Jersey $88,100 $51,110 $128,360
New Mexico $58,880 $40,550 $71,910
New York $80,210 $49,210 $127,020
North Carolina $48,260 $37,230 $70,240
North Dakota $62,870 $48,550 $79,960
Ohio $71,100 $40,590 $93,090
Oklahoma $49,200 $30,650 $80,340
Oregon $80,760 $60,740 $94,330
Pennsylvania $78,390 $44,820 $103,400
Rhode Island $65,420 $49,080 $83,200
South Carolina $46,800 $36,250 $65,250
South Dakota $50,980 $39,270 $76,390
Tennessee $48,230 $35,830 $66,470
Texas $64,370 $45,560 $89,980
Utah $61,380 $47,010 $78,940
Vermont $61,360 $47,130 $76,610
Virginia $58,310 $44,240 $80,970
Washington $94,170 $66,090 $117,420
West Virginia $46,960 $37,070 $59,520
Wisconsin $71,590 $48,760 $83,820
Wyoming $58,370 $44,530 $69,030

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

NSA police officers are officially paid according to the federal General Schedule, so pay will vary depending on an officer’s location and experience, though Indeed.com says NSA police officers are paid 21% more than regular police officers, on average.


The NSA benefits guide identifies several benefits that NSA police officers might qualify for:

  • Relocation assistance
  • Advance of pay
  • Paid time off including 11 paid holidays and 13 sick days per year
  • Annual leave
  • Retirement contributions
  • Insurance benefits, including comprehensive health insurance and a flexible spending account
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Field assignment opportunities

The NSA is a highly respected organization, and experience as an NSA police officer could also potentially help you pursue another related career if you ever choose to. You may be able to use your experience to transition into another governmental position, or to get another security or police officer role.

Next steps

NSA police officers play an important role in protecting the NSA and its mission, and in doing so, they also play an important role in protecting the entire country. While becoming an NSA police officer is a rigorous process, it can be a highly rewarding career. If you think you have what it takes to join this prestigious police force, then earning a degree is a good place to start.

Bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice or a related field are readily available, either in a traditional or online delivery format, and could give you the foundational knowledge that is a key element in qualifying to become an NSA police officer. All you need to do is click the Find Schools button to start researching accredited programs online or near you.

Published: October 4, 2023

paige cerulli

Written and reported by:

Paige Cerulli

Contributing Writer