Enhanced Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Operative Careers

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There are between nine and 14 Enhanced SWAT teams operating in the United States.  These larger SWAT teams are stationed in major metropolitan centers where there are a higher number of incidents and a more target rich environment for terrorists and criminals.  Enhanced FBI SWAT teams are among the most elite tactical units in the FBI or any law enforcement organization and recruit from among the best military and police organizations in the country.

These teams may include up to 42 members, many of whom possess specialized skills in the following areas:

  • Sniper
  • Medical technician
  • Breacher
  • Assaulter
  • Rappelmasters
  • Tactical Air Operations officers

The Distinction Between SWAT and Enhanced SWAT

The Enhanced units perform the same roles as other SWAT teams, but possess a wider array of equipment and methods. They also operate within larger mission parameters than other SWAT teams.  With more personnel, these Enhanced units are capable of responding to larger scale threats and organizations than other SWAT teams.  They also have a greater area of operation.  Many of these Enhanced SWAT teams have the capability of deployment to any part of the globe, where they may respond to emerging threats to national security, American assets and personnel abroad, or assist military and intelligence operations.

Enhanced SWAT team jobs involve being trained to a higher level of mission capability than other SWAT teams. This advanced training allows Enhanced tactical units to provide support for the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Teams.  Unlike HRT personnel who train and prepare full time, Enhanced SWAT operatives are activated only in response to a criminal or terrorist incident.  When not serving on a SWAT mission, these officers perform the responsibilities that other Special Agents fulfill.

Any Special Agent may apply to become a member of an Enhanced SWAT team, but the screening process is extremely rigorous.  A two-week selection process includes tests for:

  • Physical fitness
  • Marksmanship
  • Decision making
  • Command ability
  • Situational awareness

Only a select few are accepted to the SWAT program, and even fewer enter the elite Enhanced units. There is considerable competition for these limited positions because the FBI also attracts the most qualified tactical operatives from the military and law enforcement organizations through its Tactical Recruitment Program.

Enhanced Special Weapons and Tactics Operative Job Description

Enhanced SWAT jobs require operatives that possess the following competencies:

  • Assault a fortified building or structure
  • Assault an aircraft, ship, or vehicle
  • Rescue hostages
  • Pursue and apprehend fugitives, criminals and terrorists
  • Disrupt and neutralize terrorist operations
  • Travel to locations around the world at a moment’s notice
  • Maintain the highest physical and mental abilities through intensive training
  • Conduct intelligence gathering and criminal investigative duties

Enhanced Special Weapons and Tactics Operative Salary

Despite the augmented responsibilities, training and skills necessary to perform as an Enhanced SWAT operative, the Federal Bureau of Investigations considers these professionals equivalent to normal SWAT professionals. Thus the salary for enhanced SWAT is comparable to those for regular SWAT officers.

  • Average yearly salary:  $74,800 – $112,200
  • Entry level yearly salary:  $61,600 – $92,400
  • Highest yearly salary:  $88,000 – $132,000

The actual salary may depend on a number of factors including seniority, professional responsibilities, tactical experience, and geographical location.  Enhanced SWAT operatives also receive a generous benefits package that includes federal health insurance, life and long term care insurance, 401k equivalent plans, and full retirement after 20 years of service.

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