A career as an FBI agent is perhaps one the most sought after law enforcement jobs in the United States. Positions with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, along with most other special agent careers, tend to provide higher pay (often six figures after a few years), great health insurance coverage, and excellent retirement benefits. FBI agent careers, in particular, are often perceived to come with a certain status and prestige, given the fact that the FBI is one of the best known and most highly respected investigative agencies in the world. With that in mind, it’s no wonder you may have taken an interest in such a wonderful career opportunity. The question is, how do you become an FBI agent?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the federal government’s chief investigative unit and one of the world’s elite law enforcement agencies. Special agents with the FBI investigate federal crimes and also play a role in maintaining security within the United States. Federal crimes are defined as actions that violate federal law, as opposed to crimes that are violations of state or local laws. Some examples of federal crimes include mail fraud, kidnapping, and bank robberies. Criminal activities that cross state lines often are under the jurisdiction of the FBI as well. A candidate must have a solid educational background and be able to pass extensive background checks and physical fitness tests to become a special agent with the FBI.
Minimum Requirements for FBI Agents
First things first, let’s talk about the minimum requirements. If you don’t meet these, your job application won’t make it very far at all. To be eligible to even be considered for a job as an FBI agent, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen (or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands or other U.S. territories)
- Be between 23 and 37 years old (some exceptions to the maximum age are granted for veterans)
- Hold a valid drivers license
- Hold a four-year degree (such as a B.S. or B.A.) from an accredited academic institution
- Be ready and willing to work nearly anywhere in the world
- Have at least three years of professional work experience under your belt
FBI Agent Entry Programs
The FBI hires agents less than one of five (fewer than 20%) applicants for entry programs or career tracks. These tracks include accounting, computer science and technology, language, law/legal, and diversified work. If you meet the minimum qualifications, the next step is to determine which track you qualify for. For the accountancy track, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting and at least three years of experience working in a professional accounting firm or as an accountant within a government agency. The experience requirement may be substituted if you become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
If you’re interested in the computer and technology entry program, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, or a related field; or in electrical engineering. If you don’t have a technology degree, you’ll need to earn either a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification or a Cisco Certified Internet Working Expert (CCIE) certification. A four-year degree will still be required.
If you are interested in becoming a law candidate, you need to earn a Juris Doctorate (JD) – a law degree – from an accredited law school. You may also be required to pass the Bar exam. If you don’t fit into one of the above categories, you may still qualify under the diversified entry program. Diversified candidates need to have a four-year degree in any major and three years of work experience or a graduate degree with at least two years of experience. Most often, these candidates are former police officers or those with past investigative experience.
After applying under one of the entry programs, applicants are then prioritized based on whether they possess certain critical skills that the FBI is in need of at the time. These skills include investigative experience, prior law enforcement, computer science, physical and biological sciences, language, intelligence gathering, finance, and accounting. For those of you who are fluent in a second or third language, you will need to possess a bachelor’s degree in any field and be able to pass language proficiency tests that include reading, writing, listening and speaking.
How Long Does It Take To Become an FBI Agent
It can take you as long as 5-6 years to become an FBI agent. After high school, you will need to spend 4 years in college to earn a bachelor’s degree. Apart from this, you will spend an additional 6-12 months applying and training for the position. The process may be delayed if you fail any test or fail to meet the requirements set by the agency.
Is It Hard To Get In The FBI?
Becoming An FBI Special Agent
Becoming An FBI Agent Is A Tremendously Difficult And Competitive Process. It Takes Years Of Time, Planning, And Hard Work To Mold Yourself Into The Kind Of Candidate The FBI Is Looking To Hire. It’s Not Going To Happen Overnight, And The Hiring Process Itself Can Take A Year Or Longer.
Do FBI Agents Get Paid Well?
FBI Agents Are On The Federal Government’s Law Enforcement Pay Schedule. With Locality Pay And Availability Pay, First-year Agents Can Earn Between $64,365 To $73,634 Per Year Depending Upon Where They Are Stationed.
What Qualifications Do I Need To Be An FBI Agent?
Prospective FBI Agents Must Have A Bachelor’s Degree A With An Overall Gpa Of 3.0 Or Higher And Three Years Of Related Work Experience, Or An Advanced Degree (Master’s Degree Or Higher) And Two Years Of Related Work Experience.
What Do Fbi Agents Do?
Currently, The FBI’s Focus Is On Stopping Terrorism, Corruption, Organized Crime, Cyber Crime, And Civil Rights Violations, As Well As Investigating Serious Crimes Such As Major Thefts Or Murders. They Also Assist Other Law Enforcement Agencies When Needed. The FBI Does Not Prosecute Cases.
How Long Is FBI Hiring Process?
The Application Process Is A Lengthy One: On Average, Phase 1 Takes About 23 Weeks To Complete, And Phase Ii, Including The Background Check And Field Training, May Take More Than A Year. Individuals Considering An FBI Career Should Be Prepared For A Moderate Amount Of Disruption During This Process.