Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PALACE Acquire (PAQ) Program?

We partner with the Air Force Personnel Center to hire entry-level special agents through its PALACE Acquire (PAQ) Program. Historically, the PAQ Program hired approximately 10 new agents each year. Individuals are hired into GL-1811-7 positions, with promotion potential up to GS-1811-13, contingent on successful job performance. New PAQs, who are centrally-funded by the Department of the Air Force, meet the same performance and training requirements as other OSI series 1811 criminal investigators. While under the auspices of this program, individuals are provided DAF-funded training over a period of 3 years before being outplaced into a permanent OSI funded position. Applicants must apply through USA Jobs when the public notice is posted. The application window is usually open from mid-September until late October, but the dates may vary.

Read more about the PAQ program here:

Does OSI have any other programs to hire entry-level agents?

Yes.  OSI also hires entry-level agents directly into OSI through our developmental program.  Vacancies for these positions are posted as needed.

Do you hire interns?

Yes. OSI internships are available through the Air Force Premier College Intern Program (PCIP). College students enrolled in a full-time baccalaureate program or a full-time master’s program may be eligible for a 12-week paid internship (GS-05) during the summer just prior to their college graduation. OSI PCIP interns may be non-competitively converted to a permanent appointment within the PALACE Acquire (PAQ) program. The target grade of the conversion will be GL-07. However, it is important to remember that eligibility for conversion does not guarantee the applicant will be offered a permanent position, and applicants must meet all the OSI PAQ eligibility requirements to be considered for conversion. Applicants must apply through website when the public notice is posted. The application window is usually open from early September through late October each year, but actual dates may vary.

Read about the PCIP program here:

Do I need a bachelor's degree in order to qualify?
OSI requires new entry-level civilians to have a bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA 2.95 or higher or qualifying specialized experience. Applicants for journeyman positions can qualify based on their specialized experience as an agent. Entry level vacancies are normally at the GL-7 level, but can be higher for applicants with an advanced degree (GL-9 for master's, GS-11 for a PhD). Journeymen level position are GS-13.

If I am close to completing a bachelor's degree but have no specialized experience, can I apply prior to finishing the degree program?
Yes. You may apply up to 9 months prior to graduation, but you will need to provide proof of graduation and transcripts before being hired.

Does fluency in a foreign language give me any priority over applicants without a language skill?
Fluency in a foreign language is considered a positive factor but it may or may not be used to make the hiring decision, based on the position being filled. However, we value foreign language skills and consider them in our selection process.

Can I apply for one announcement and be considered for all available vacancy announcements?
No. You must submit a separate application for each announcement for which you wish to be considered. However, most vacancy announcements are used to fill multiple vacancies.

After my application is received, will I automatically be notified?
No, not right away. As we progress through the selection process, we will notify you if you're selected for an interview. After the selection process is completed, we will notify each applicant of their status (selected or not selected).

Will anyone be able to tell me whether or not my application looks promising or how it is faring against other applications in the evaluation process?
No. We are prohibited from making value judgments on an application to an applicant.

At what point is a background investigation conducted? Do I need one to apply?
The pre-employment background suitability investigation is not initiated until an applicant is approved to move onto the final phase of the selection process and successfully completes the medical screening. No background investigation is needed prior to that. The suitability investigation is completed even for applicants who have a valid security clearance. Once the suitability investigation provides a positive outcome, the applicant is considered for open vacancies.

Who does the pre-employment suitability investigation, and how long does it take?
Pre-employment suitability investigations are normally conducted by the OSI unit closest to the selectee. The investigation takes approximately 45-60 days. A key factor in the time it takes is the applicant's responsiveness. Applicants should act quickly to return the correct and accurate information in a timely manner.

Are there any other security requirements?
Yes. Each selectee will undergo a thorough background security investigation to obtain a top-secret security clearance, which is a condition of employment for OSI special agents. If you don't qualify for a top-secret clearance, your employment will be terminated. Also, OSI special agents may be required to take a counterintelligence polygraph examination.

How long does the hiring process take?
From application to start date the process generally takes 6-9 months, but sometimes it can take longer.

If I am not hired into a certain position, does my application stay on file?
It depends on which type of vacancy you apply for. Your application stays on file for 12-18 months if you apply for a worldwide vacancy announcement that is targeting multiple vacancies. During that time, your application will be continually considered for worldwide vacancies covered by that announcement. After that time, the applicant pool expires and you must apply to another announcement to be considered for employment. If you apply for a specific vacancy - one that states a particular location - your application stays on file only until that position is filled. If not selected, we will notify you and your application will not be considered for new vacancies unless you apply for those announcements.

Do I have a choice of location if selected under a worldwide announcement?
You will have the opportunity to provide your preferences, but OSI management decides where your skills can be best utilized based on the needs of the organization. You are also required to sign a mobility agreement stating that you will accept assignment to other positions and locations when selected for reassignment or promotion. Please make an honest self-assessment before applying. If you are not willing to go where the Air Force needs you, you should not apply.

How often are new positions announced?
New announcements are posted to the website as we have vacant requirements to fill.

What are the physical requirements?
A basic premise of federal employment is that employees must be fully qualified to safely and efficiently perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions without undue risk to themselves or others. Law enforcement duties in OSI include federal criminal law enforcement activities that can be physically demanding and dangerous. Accordingly, OSI is responsible for assessing whether employees are physically and medically qualified for the position they hold.

All applicants who have successfully completed the OSI's evaluation process for criminal investigator positions are required to undergo a pre-employment medical examination by a licensed physician to determine if they are physically and medically qualified to perform the full duties of the position. Any physical condition that would hinder an individual's full, efficient and safe performance of his/her duties, or failure to meet any of the required medical or physical qualifications for employment is disqualifying.

An applicant must possess the following general physical attributes: arms, hands, legs, and feet intact and functioning; range of motion of all joints, limbs and trunk; average manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination; average strength; acceptable eyesight; acceptable hearing; normal vocal abilities; emotional and mental stability.

- Specific vision requirements: the ability to see and be free of visual problems. Any condition that significantly interferes with visual acuity or puts the eye at risk is disqualifying. The applicant must have depth perception, normal color vision, and correctable vision. Glasses are permitted but must be sufficient to read printed words the size of typewritten material.

- Specific hearing requirements: the ability to discriminate sounds and speech must be demonstrated, as measured by an audiometer.

-An EKG is required with the physical and a licensed physician must provide determination the applicant is healthy and has no duty limiting restrictions.

- Psychiatric conditions: any disorder that significantly affects normal perception, judgment, or safe and acceptable behavior, or evidence of serious mental impairment, is disqualifying.

- Others: distinct speech, odor detection, unimpaired sight, free breathing and ability to hear and maintain equilibrium. Any abnormalities of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth or throat that permanently and significantly interfere with breathing, distinct speech, sight or loss of sense of smell are disqualifying. Mobility, stability, flexibility and strength to perform physical job tasks efficiently with minimum risk of injury are required.

Will I be required to remain physically fit and undergo routine medical examinations periodically?
Yes. The duties of these positions require moderate to arduous physical exertion involving walking, running, standing, use of firearms, and exposure to inclement weather. Employees are required to be physically fit throughout their career and may be subject to periodic medical examinations and physical fitness evaluations. Failure to meet an established medical or physical requirement means the individual is not qualified for the position unless there is sufficient evidence that he or she can perform the duties of the position safely and efficiently despite a condition that would normally be disqualifying.

How can I physically prepare myself before arriving at FLETC?
Start an exercise program based on your current fitness level, general health, and age. Consult a physician for medical clearance and general guidance. Special care should be taken by people who have primary risk factors for coronary artery disease such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, start improving your cardiovascular conditioning by walking, biking, and swimming. These activities should be performed for at least 15 minutes, twice a week, increasing to 20 minutes, three times per week by the third week. Try including jogging by the third week. Find a workout partner and motivate each other to adhere to a fitness plan, but avoid over training.

Are there any other conditions of employment?
Yes. The selectee must may sign a form acknowledging they are in an Emergency-Essential position (if applicable) and the requirement to participate in the Air Force immunization program.

Special agents are often required to work long hours in undesirable conditions on short notice; must travel away from home for short and/or long periods to include deployments abroad; must be proficient in the use of firearms and cannot have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime of domestic violence; will be required to submit to random drug testing; must have a valid driver's license and be able to operate a government owned or leased vehicle; must pass initial and periodic suitability determinations and polygraph examinations.

Are OSI agent positions affected by the Lautenberg Amendment?
Yes. The amendment prohibits the use of firearms by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence for domestic abuse in all 50 states. Applicants with such a conviction are disqualified from being an OSI agent.

I'm interested in getting into a specialty such as polygraph, computer crime, etc. Can I apply just for a particular specialty?
People with experience in a specialized field may apply for posted vacancies related specifically to that field or they may apply for a more general vacancy announcement. All other applicants are considered for generalist agent positions. If hired, you may be assigned to a specialty position or you can apply for specialty positions later in your career. As mentioned earlier, you will have the opportunity to provide your assignment preferences and that includes the specific type of job you are interested in.

Will I be entitled to Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP) if selected for a GS-1811 position?
Yes, OSI agents are entitled to LEAP which is a type of premium pay for criminal investigators who are required to work, or be available to work substantial amounts of unscheduled overtime based on the needs of the agency. Availability pay is fixed at 25% of a special agent's rate of basic pay.