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  1. Homeland Security Careers
  2. Students & Grads
  3. Recent Graduates
  4. Acquisition Professional Career Program

Acquisition Professional Career Program

Learn How to Apply. Click here. The Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) offers participants an exciting, structured way to begin careers in DHS acquisition offices. APCP is an entry‑level career development program designed to recruit and develop acquisition business talent in distinct, but related, career fields within DHS. Many APCP participants begin as interns in our Student Hire Internship Pathway (SHIP) or as participants in our Warriors-to-DHS Pathway (W2DHS). Other participants are selected directly into APCP via Recent Graduate Pathways Program authorities or via other authorities to attract individuals with diverse experiences. APCP is managed within the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. If you are interested in this program, we encourage you to first learn more about DHS Acquisition Careers.

APCP participants are recruited into distinct, but related, acquisition career fields. Professionals in each career field work together to enable the mission of DHS through the acquisition/purchasing and administration of mission-critical products and services obtained from our industry partners via contracts. A significant majority of APCP participants are Contract Specialists.

Please refer to the “Career Field Descriptions” section of the DHS Acquisition Careers page for brief descriptions of each career field.

The key feature of APCP is career growth. APCP participants undergo a rigorous three ‑year structured developmental program. Starting in year four, APCP graduates manage their own careers and are eligible for continued competitive promotions into higher levels of responsibility that correspond to higher salaries.

APCP Participants must be prepared to work in any DHS Component, Directorate, or Office and are often afforded opportunities to rotate through more than one. Most DHS acquisition offices and APCP job opportunities are in the Washington, DC area but there are occasionally opportunities in other areas of the United States. On occasion, APCP participants have been placed in the following areas outside of the Washington, DC area: Burlington, VT; Philadelphia, PA; Round Hill, VA; Baltimore, MD; Norfolk, VA; Indianapolis, IN; Tucson, AZ; San Diego, CA, Auburn, WA; Dallas, TX, El Paso, TX, and Kearneysville, WV. It is unlikely that any position will be offered outside of these locations and Washington, DC remains the most likely job location by far. Specific job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS will list geographic duty locations available to applicants. We do not require participants to relocate geographically while in the program. APCP participants may be eligible for partial telework schedules but not fully remote work away from their duty locations.

Key features of the APCP experience include

  • Cohort based onboarding experience.
  • Orientation to DHS mission and cultures.
  • Orientation to federal acquisition careers and the professional environment.
  • Structured on the job experience.
  • Partnership with a mentor.
  • Peer support and networking with your APCP counterparts.
  • Specialized training.
  • Career certifications.
  • External events and activities.
  • Mission-connection experiences.
  • Management interviews of senior professionals.
  • Leadership shadowing experiences.
  • Special projects.

Promotions in the program are never guaranteed, but a typical APCP participant’s career progresses as follows. Approximate salaries listed are based on current General Schedule (GS) Locality Pay Table in the Washington, DC area.

  • Year 1, GS-07, Step 1: (approximately $56,000)
  • Year 2, GS-09, Step 1: (approximately $68,000)
  • Year 3, GS-11, Step 1: (approximately $83,000) *Program Graduation Between Years 3 & 4
  • Year 4, GS-12, Step 1: (approximately $99,000)
  • Year 5+, program graduates are eligible to compete for further career promotions (GS-13, 14, 15, SES)


As federal employees, participants receive outstanding benefits including:

  • Personal leave days for vacation
  • 11 paid holidays per year
  • 13 paid sick days per year
  • Wide choice of health insurance programs
  • Flexible work schedules (if authorized)
  • Fully portable Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401K) with matching contributions up to 5%
  • Non-taxable Flexible Spending Accounts for out-of-pocket medical or dependent care expenses
  • Paid training
  • Transportation subsidy (Washington, DC area only)
  • Life and long-term care insurance
  • Employee recognition program 

Qualifications vary depending on the APCP career field. Some career fields require business or ABET accredited engineering qualifications or strongly prefer these qualifications. You must submit all current and past undergraduate and graduate transcripts at the time of application. All APCP participants must be U.S. Citizens who are able to hold government suitability determinations or security clearances which will require background investigations and drug testing.

Most APCP careers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with superior academic achievement (usually a 3.0 GPA or above) or at least one year of graduate education. Applicants may apply before completing their course of study if their graduation is imminent following a final semester of coursework and their final transcripts reflect successful completion of minimum qualifications before being issued final job offers. Experience in procurement at the GS-05 level can sometimes be used in lieu of education to meet minimum qualifications.

Each job opportunity announcement posted on USAJOBS will list the official qualifications and eligibility criteria. Please read each announcement carefully before applying.

APCP is a highly competitive program to join. All official applications will be solicited, received, and processed via official job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS. These job announcements are not continuous and usually only appear once or twice each year. However, we are always interested in identifying talent at any time. If you believe you are a good fit for APCP, you may send your resume to AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov specifying your career field of interest.

If you are on a university recruitment platform and find APCP or Student Hire Internship Pathway (SHIP)  information posted, we encourage you engage with us there because it means we are in an active recruitment cycle. We may not respond to all interested parties, but we always maintain a talent pool that we may notify when job announcements are posted.

If you believe you are an ideal candidate for APCP and wish to learn more, submit your statement of interest and your resume to AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov to join our talent pool. Note that this is not an official application to the program.

What if I cannot or do not want to work in or near Washington, DC?

Please see the “About the Program” section above. Most APCP positions are based in or near Washington, DC. We have a small number of individuals in Burlington, VT and Philadelphia, PA. There are occasionally other geographic locations we support, but they are rare. Job opportunity announcements on USAJOBS will list the specific duty locations available under each posting. Please only apply if you are willing to work in a location specified in each announcement. APCP participants may be eligible for partial telework schedules but not fully remote work away from their duty locations.

Can APCP participants telework or work remotely?

APCP positions typically allow for a flexible on-site and telework schedule, with a minimum requirement that participants work two days in each two-week period on‑site. Remote work, meaning work performed outside of the reasonable commuting area from one's duty station, will not be authorized. Available duty stations for positions will be listed in specific job announcements on USAJOBS. All work schedules will be approved by one’s supervisor of record.

Is this a career program that may lead to a DHS career in another discipline, such as law enforcement, criminal justice, public administration, international affairs, cybersecurity, information technology, etc.?

No, all APCP careers are focused on the business area of DHS with emphasis on the acquisition/purchasing and administration of mission critical products or services obtained from industry. You can learn more about other DHS career interests by visiting the following:

Is the APCP program for university graduates only?

APCP generally targets recent university graduates (or those entering their final semester) at the undergraduate or graduate level via the Recent Graduate Pathways Program authorities or via other authorities designed to recruit diverse talent. However, we also have an entry pathway for university students in their final year via the Student Hire Internship Pathway (SHIP) and for military members transitioning from service with little or no university education via our Warriors‑to‑DHS Pathway (W2DHS).

When will the next job announcement post or how can I learn more?

Please review the “Openings and Recruitment” section above. We generally do not reply to messages asking only when the next job announcement will be posted. The best advice we can offer is to enter our talent pool so that you may be notified of new job opportunity announcements. You may also set job alerts on USAJOBS. If you have a question that has not been answered on our pages, you may contact us at AcquisitionCandidates@hq.dhs.gov and we may elect to reply. We strive to treat interested applicants equally via public recruiting efforts, information sessions, and through the standard application process that begins on USAJOBS.

Last Updated: 02/28/2024
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