Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) Operative Careers

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The Hostage Rescue Teams are the U.S. government’s premier law enforcement and national security tactical units that undertake missions with the highest risk or greatest necessity for success.  Only about a hundred members of the more 36,000 FBI workforce are designated HRT.  These professionals hail from the most elite military and law enforcement organizations in the country and possess the skills and training to rival tactical personnel from any group in the world.

Hostage Rescue Teams are the federal government’s primary response units for counterterrorism operations.  They may be deployed to locations throughout the U.S. or abroad, unlike military units like Delta Force which are prohibited from operating in a law enforcement capacity on U.S. soil. They have served as the lead response units at major events like the 1984 and 1996 Olympics.

HRT Jobs: Full-Time Tactical Personnel

Unlike other FBI tactical groups like SWAT, HRT operatives are full time tactical personnel.  They remain on active status around the clock and do not perform the responsibilities associated with Special Agents.  Instead they maintain peak operational capability by intensive training throughout their careers. Among the many skills that HRT operatives must master are

  • Unarmed combat
  • Long range marksmanship
  • Rappelling
  • Close-quarters combat
  • Hostage negotiations

In order to secure Hostage and Rescue Team jobs, FBI Special Agents with two or more years of field experience must successfully complete a two week selection process that includes

  • Long distance runs
  • Obstacle courses
  • Timed pushups and pull-ups
  • Sprints

The candidates are constantly tested during the exercises to assess performance under extreme conditions.

If approved for HRT jobs, candidates must complete a four month program at the FBI Academy designated as the New Operator Training School.  In order to maintain peak performance, HRT operatives train full time when not deployed. In some cases, HRT personnel train alongside Special Forces personnel like Delta and Navy Seals.

Hostage Rescue Team Job Description

HRT operatives are expected to perform their responsibilities with unrivaled mastery.

  •  Assault ships, aircraft and large vehicles
  • Rapidly disrupt and neutralize terrorist operations and attacks
  • Pursue and apprehend criminals or fugitives using a variety of vehicles and on foot
  • Covertly penetrate barricaded structures and rescue hostages
  • Provide protection to FBI and U.S. government at major events and abroad
  • Enter structures by rappelling from a helicopter

Hostage Rescue Team Salary

All personnel on FBI Hostage Rescue Teams are classified as Supervisors, so they receive salaries commensurate with either a GS-14 or GS-15 pay level. For 2012 the salary ranges for these pay ratings were

  • General Schedule 14:  $84,697-$110,104
  • General Schedule 15:  $99,628-$129,517

These serve as the base salary and are often adjusted to local cost of living that the HRT operative is subject to. In addition to the COLA, HRT personnel also receive Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime (AUO) pay which provides compensation for excessive hours and around-the-clock availability.  AUO is typically an additional 25 percent of the base salary.

HRT operatives receive a benefits package consistent with that offered to all federal law enforcement field officers.  This includes a health insurance plan, Thrift Savings Plan (401k), life and long term care insurance, optional vision and dental insurance, and full retirement after 20 to 25 years of service.

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