Acquisition Professional Career Program

Acquisition Professional Career Program

Learn How to Apply. Click here.Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) participants work in one of six career fields, each of which plays a vital role in Department Acquisition.

APCP participants are appointed to rotational assignments within department components to gain experience in a wide variety of work environments.

Program Length

Three years. Upon successful completion of the program, participants are placed into a permanent full-time position at the GS-12 grade.


Office of the Chief Procurement Officer


  • Washington, D.C. (All positions)
  • Auburn, WA (Contract Specialists)
  • Dallas, TX (Contract Specialists)
  • Orlando, FL (Contract Specialists)
  • Philadelphia, PA (Contract Specialists)


APCP participant pay increases with experience and performance. A typical APCP participant progresses through the program and is compensated as follows:

  • Year 1: GS-07, Step 1
  • Year 2, GS-09, Step 1
  • Year 3, GS-11, Step 1
  • Year 4, GS-12, Step 1 (upon program graduation)

Typically, APCP participants graduate the three-year program and are placed into DHS acquisition offices at the GS‑12, Step 1 level. Upon program graduation following year three, professionals navigate their own careers into higher levels of responsibility that correspond to higher rates of pay. Please refer to the current Office of Personnel Management Salaries and Wage website for current General Schedule (GS) locality pay rates.

Eligibility Requirements

Several different positions are hired under this program:

  • Contract Specialist
  • Program Manager
  • Logistician
  • Systems Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer/Cost Estimator
  • IT Acquisition Specialist

For all positions, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be able to obtain and hold a security clearance. Applicants may be required to submit to a drug test and/or a higher-level background investigation for some opportunities
  • Academic Requirements:
    • Participants hired directly into a GS-7 position must demonstrate either superior academic achievement or prior experience at (or equivalent to) the GS-5 level of responsibility. Superior academic achievement can be an undergraduate GPA of 2.95 or higher or one year of graduate education.

Who to Contact for Additional Information

Please email

Program Status

Job opportunity announcements will be open at certain intervals throughout the year. You can view open announcements at USAJOBS by searching for "Acquisition Professional Career Program," including quotation marks for the most direct search results.

Why Work for the Department of Homeland Security?

Customs and Border Protection patrol dronesThe Department of Homeland Security was established on March 1, 2003, a mixture of 22 new and existing agencies dedicated to the mission of leading the unified national effort to secure America. Together, the Department works to prevent and deter terrorist attacks, protects against threats and hazards to the nation, and secures our borders while promoting the free flow of visitors and commerce.

Approximately 230,000 Department of Homeland Security employees perform that mission every day. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents patrol our borders and guard our ports of entry against dangerous people and cargo. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deploys relief supplies to disaster areas, helping people get back on their feet after floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and fires. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners ensure the safety of air and rail travelers. United States Secret Service (USSS) agents put their lives on the line protecting the President of the United States.

These are just a few of the thousands of activities Department personnel perform each and every day in pursuit of a safer America. Acquisition is what makes the Department able to perform these activities.

Prospective personnelAPCP participants work in one of six career fields, each of which plays a vital role in Department Acquisition.

  • Contract Specialists gather requirements, solicit proposals from industry, determine the best value between proposals, and negotiate and sign contracts on behalf of the federal government. This career field is suited to any major, particularly business majors, though participants without 24 business credits are highly encouraged to complete those 24 credits by the end of the 3-year program.
  • Program Managers manage the day-to-day operations of government contractors. They ensure that work is being completed on time and on budget, milestones are being met, and provide federal government oversight. This field is suited to any major.
  • Systems Engineers work with program managers in the day-to-day management of contractor work, acting as technical advisors. They also assist contract specialists in writing highly technical requirement documents and analyzing contractor proposals. This career field is suited to engineering, science, and math majors.
  • Industrial Engineers work with program managers in the specialized field of conducting cost estimating analysis, developing simulations using mathematical modeling. They design costing methods, perform research and development of estimating relationships, assess how these affect overall project costs and make recommendations for improvement. This career field is suited to industrial engineering majors.
  • Logisticians work with both acquisition personnel and front-line operational personnel to properly arrange and execute the life cycle logistics of a project. They analyze project sustainment needs and costs, such as repair work, replacement part needs and requirements for user training or disposal costs, and then make recommendations to meet those needs or how to improve existing arrangements. This career field is suited to business majors, particularly those with a logistics or supply chain management concentration.
  • Information Technology Specialists, similar to systems engineers, provide their technical expertise to program managers in the day-to-day management of contractor work on information technology projects or to contract specialists in the research and negotiation processes of IT-related contracts. This career field is suited to computer science and computer engineering majors, as well as other IT-related fields.

FEMA mobile disaster response centerStarting at the GS-7 grade level, you will be appointed to rotational assignments within offices of a component organization listed below, giving you the opportunity to gain experience in a wide variety of work environments.

The following Department components currently participate in the APCP:

  • Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Office of Procurement Operations (OPO)
  • Office of Selective Acquisitions (OSA)
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • U.S. Secret Service (USSS)

You may work in short-notice disaster relief planning efforts with FEMA, long-term ship design projects with the Coast Guard, ongoing screening and detection equipment development, testing, and deployment for the TSA, or other exciting and vital programs throughout the Department. The experience you gain, combined with the training and mentorship you receive, will enhance your understanding and comprehension of your acquisition career specialty, preparing you for virtually any situation you may encounter in the course of your career. Your rotational assignments will give you a broader perspective into the many missions going on simultaneously within the Department, allowing you to see both the parts and the whole that work towards the larger Department mission: protecting against and responding to threats and hazards to the nation.

Upon successful completion of the program, you will be placed into a permanent full-time position with promotion potential up to a GS-12.

Beneficial Training

Our intensive training program, using interspersed classroom, online and on-the-job training, will provide you with the skills and training necessary to become a sought-after expert in the field of acquisition. As you progress through the APCP, you will receive progressively higher certifications within your acquisition career field. These certifications are recognized across the federal government and will serve as your professional credentials, making you a recognized expert in your field.

Additionally, program participants receive management and leadership training. This, combined with your expertise within your career field, will give you the foundation necessary to become a future leader in tomorrow's government.


Within your first 90 days, you will be partnered with a senior expert in your acquisition field who will provide you with positive guidance on how to reach your full potential. Along with the experienced professionals you will work alongside and learn from on a day-to-day basis, you will also be able to turn to your mentor for frank discussion, advice and career planning. Together, you will assess your professional strengths and weaknesses to develop a plan for laying out your long-term career goals and aspirations. Your mentor will work with you over the length of your participation in the APCP, helping you on the road to your professional success.

Outstanding Benefits

  • Personal leave days for vacation
    • 13 days per year for first 3 years
    • 20 days per year for years 4-15
    • 26 days per year for years 15 or more
  • 10 paid holidays per year
  • 13 paid sick days per year
  • Wide choice of health insurance programs
  • Flexible work schedules
  • 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, D.C. area only)
  • Employee recognition program
  • Life and long-term care insurance

APCP Recruiting Events

No events are scheduled at this time

Potential applicants should check for open vacancy announcements. A new announcement is forthcoming.

Interested qualifying Veteran applicants may also email as detailed in "How to Apply" above.

The Department of Homeland Security is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Was this page helpful?

This page was not helpful because the content:

Microsite Carousel

Back to Top