Up Against the Age Limit for
Federal Jobs in Law Enforcement?
I am over 48 years old and trying to land a job in Federal law enforcement. I
can’t seem to crack it. Federal Agencies limit the age of new law enforcement
hires to 37. So let me ask, is this legal? Isn’t this a form of age
discrimination? I noticed that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has openings for
the position of Correction Officer. I note also that the Border Patrol is
expanding. However, I see that I am too old to apply for either position.
Second question: Do these age restrictions apply to law enforcement only? I
retired one year ago from the Atlanta Police Department after 20 years of
service. When I retired, I had anticipated going into business for myself. My
business did not work out and now I’m looking for employment again. I have a
wealth of knowledge I could bring to the correctional position, but because of
an arbitrary rule cannot do so.
I would appreciate any advice you have for me in my situation. Thank you for
The Federal government does not have an age ceiling. In fact, Title 5 U.S.C.
3307(a) prohibits the establishment of a maximum entry age for Federal
positions, except as provided in certain circumstances. Unfortunately in your
case, the exception is a problem. The “certain circumstances” to which the law
applies include Air Traffic Controller positions, U.S. Park Police, and any
positions involving Law Enforcement Officers or Fire Fighters. Likewise, under
U.S.C. 633(a) Agencies may establish a maximum age requirement, if the Agency
can prove that age is a bona fide occupational qualification necessary for the
performance of the duties of the position. In the case of Corrections Officers,
the physical demands of the position legally permit an age limitation: 37.
There are no exceptions to this rule that we have been able to find. Even for
those with veteran’s preference the age restriction is not waived. In fact, the
rule has been challenged on many occasions and has been upheld in the courts
On the other hand, your experience as a police officer may qualify you for an
investigative position in the 1800 series. There are 23 different job titles in
this series and not all of them have age limitations.
Law Enforcement Jobs Which
Do Not Have Age Limitations
Security Guard GS 0085
General Inspector, Investigation and
Compliance GS 1801
General Investigating GS 1810
Consumer Safety Inspector GS 1862
Food Inspector GS 1863
One of the biggest occupations with no age limit is General Investigating Series
GS 1810. GS 1810 is described as follows:
“The GS 1810 series includes positions that involve planning and conducting
investigations covering the character, practices, suitability, or qualifications
of persons or organizations seeking, claiming, or receiving Federal benefits,
permits, or employment when the results of the investigation are used to make or
invoke administrative judgments, sanctions, or penalties. These positions
require primarily a knowledge of investigative techniques, a knowledge of the
laws, rules, regulations and objectives of the employing Agency; skill in
interviewing, following leads, researching records, and preparing reports; and
the ability to elicit information helpful to the investigation from persons in
all walks of life.”
If you have detective experience, that would be helpful in qualifying for the GS
1810 series occupations. Many of the GS 1800 series positions open regularly and
are reported in the Vacancy Listings of Federal Jobs Digest.
Finally, you should be aware of GS 0085 Security Guard positions, hired by
General Services Administration, which oversees security at Federal buildings.
GS 0085 positions are regularly reported in the Vacancy Listings of Federal Jobs
Digest, and these do not have age requirements.
However, most of the security personnel employed through GSA (there are
thousands), are not actually Federal employees, but are contract workers, hired
through contracts with private sector companies that specialize in supplying
security personnel. The larger, well known security companies usually get the
Federal contracts, and these firms are known to regularly hire retired police
officers such as yourself. You might want to look into this. Of course, contract
workers are not entitled to the health benefits and government pensions offered
to civil service employees, but have their benefits provided by their private
sector employer at its discretion.
To submit questions to the Federal Jobs Advisor, write to: Federal Jobs
Advisor, Federal Jobs Digest, 1503 Radcliff Court, Newtown Square PA 19073. We
regret that not all questions may be answered. •