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  1. Homeland Security Careers
  2. Veterans
  3. Veteran and Military Spouse Programs
  4. Warriors to DHS Pathway Acquisition Training

Warriors-to-DHS Pathway

The Warriors-to-DHS Pathway (W2DHS) offers veterans transitioning from military service to civilian service the opportunity to gain the education, training, and experience they need to become Contract Specialists in the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP). W2DHS and APCP are managed within the DHS Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. If you are interested in this pathway, we encourage you to first learn more about DHS Acquisition Careers.

DHS has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Warriors to Workforce Program to offer veterans an opportunity to transition into the DHS acquisition workforce by applying their military skills and transferable military experiences to the Contract Specialist career field. The W2DHS Pathway is a unique three‑year training pathway that combines transitional support, mentoring, professional development, foundational career training activities, on-the-job learning experiences, and professional certification. Veterans are taught in-demand skills and competencies in an occupation identified as mission critical, which allows veterans to continue serving their country as civil servants.

The pathway is designed for veterans with little or no university education because it provides business-focused university education during the first year. The pathway encourages participants to continue their education after the first year.

Contract Specialists in Contracting Series (1102) gather the mission needs and requirements of program customers, solicit proposals from contractors in industry, determine the best value between proposals, and negotiate contracts on behalf of the federal government. They also support administration of contracts after award. This career field is suited for business‑focused majors, or in the case of W2DHS participants, those willing to study business.

Promotions in the pathway are never guaranteed, but a typical W2DHS participant’s career progresses as follows. Approximate salaries listed are based on the current General Schedule (GS) Locality Pay Table in the Washington, DC area:

  • Year 1, GS-05, Step 1: approximately $40,000
  • Year 2, GS-07, Step 1: approximately $50,000
  • Year 3, GS-09, Step 1: approximately $60,000
  • Year 4, GS-11, Step 1: approximately $75,000
  • Year 5+, program graduates are eligible to compete for further career promotions

First Year

Participants earn 36 university business credits via the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy in partnership with Mount St. Mary’s University in Frederick, Maryland. Participants also receive other training and development with their professional cohort during this time.

Second and Third Year

Participants join the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) where they work in a DHS Component procurement office learning professional skills via structured training, development, and on‑the‑job experience. Participants continue rigorous professional development in their cohorts in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy.

Fourth Year and Beyond

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.


As federal employees, participants receive outstanding benefits including:

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

To be eligible for the W2DHS Pathway, candidates must meet all of the following criteria:

  • U.S. Citizenship
  • Honorable discharge from the military
  • Service-connected disability at 30% or more
  • Separated within the last three years
  • Eligible for hire under Veteran’s Recruitment Appointment (VRA)
  • High school diploma (or equivalent) with little or no university education
  • Vocational Rehab (Applied & found Eligible)
  • Pass a drug test
  • Pass a background investigation
  • Willing to relocate or commute for a one‑year training program in Frederick, Maryland and for final placement at a DHS Component within the United States, with most positions being offered in or near Washington, DC.

If you believe you are an ideal candidate for W2DHS and wish to learn more, submit your statement of interest and your resume to warriors-to-dhs@hq.dhs.gov to join our talent pool. Note that this is not an official application to the pathway.

DHS is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Where are jobs located?

All W2DHS participants spend their first year studying on‑site at Mount St. Mary’s University in Frederick, Maryland. After the first year, participants fully engage with the APCP program and must be willing to relocate within the United States as required for placement. Most APCP positions are based in or near Washington, DC. There are occasionally other geographic locations we support, but they are rare. Please see the Acquisition Professional Career Program (APCP) page for more information and a list of these locations. Participants may be eligible for partial telework schedules but not fully remote work away from their duty locations.

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. All W2DHS participants are developed to become Contract Specialists. Learn more at:

Last Updated: 05/16/2022
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