Positions at the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation and most other occupations as a special agent usually provide higher pay (often in the six-figure range after a few years), high health coverage and excellent retirement benefits.
In particular, FBI agent careers are often viewed as having some status and prestige because the FBI is one of the most well-known and respected investigative agencies in the world.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder you were interested in such a wonderful career opportunity. The question is, how are you an FBI agent?
When you finish reading this comprehensive article, you are well-informed on how to become an FBI agent before deciding whether an FBI career is a worthwhile job.
- About the FBI
- FBI Career: Duties & Responsibilities
- FBI Agent Salary
- FBI Requirements (Education, Training, & Certification)
- How to Become a Special Agent with the FBI
- Are there difficulties working as an FBI Agent?
- What is the FBI Application Process?
- FBI Special Agent Application Process
- The FBI Academy
- How to become an FBI Agent | FAQs
- AUTHOR’S RECOMMENDATION
About the FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the federal investigating agency and one of the world’s leading law enforcement agencies. Special agents of the FBI investigate crimes of the federal government and also contribute to the maintenance of security in the United States
Federal crimes are defined as acts that violate federal laws, as opposed to crimes that violate state or local laws. Some examples of federal crime include postal fraud, kidnapping, and bank robbery. Criminal activity that crosses national borders is often the responsibility of the FBI.
The FBI was founded in 1908 and was involved in famous cases involving Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, the KKK and John Gotti. The story of the FBI is rich in success stories about protecting the country from a multitude of threats.
It began as a team of special agents during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and has become one of the main branches of government.
Although the Federal Bureau of Investigations, often referred to as “the bureau”, initially investigated fraud, banking, and antitrust issues, it now addresses the fight against terrorism, hate crimes, human trafficking, human rights violations and virtually every type of national threat.
FBI Career: Duties & Responsibilities
A career as an FBI agent carries a variety of tasks to counter these threats. Some specialize in the detection of cybercriminals, others in the fight against organized crime and terrorism.
The main task of an FBI Special Agent is to investigate crimes and enforce federal laws. This may include interviewing sources and performing monitoring activities such as monitoring judicially-authorized wiretaps or working in intelligence
Some use advanced science degrees to investigate murders, while another FBI agent has sound accounting skills to detect fraud in the financial sector.
FBI agents are responsible for the security of America and its citizens. They fight daily against life-threatening challenges such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime.
FBI agents use both computer and financial know-how to protect themselves against cyber theft, fraud, and white-collar crime. They fight criminals who steal with advanced techniques.
Special agents in the FBI should be efficient regardless of their focus on the following tasks:
- Collect data
- Analyze data
- Survey and questioning
- Computer knowledge
- Use of weapons
- Investigation of changes in criminal patterns
- Maintaining mental and physical fitness
Special agents are divided into five career paths where their roles and responsibilities may vary:
The FBI collects information and data from all forms of criminal activity in order to categorize and analyze it. In this way, a database can be set up for future investigations.
Investigating foreign nationals from other nations who may be collecting information about the United States
Investigating individuals and groups who may be involved in planning terrorist activity on US soil. Suspected terrorists under investigation may be foreign or domestic terrorists.
The elucidation of serious crimes is the biggest and most important task of the FBI.
Protect sensitive government data from criminal threats at home and abroad. Agents in this area also conduct forensic investigations of computers and other related devices that could serve as evidence of other crimes.
FBI Agent Salary
There are a variety of salary levels for law enforcement officials, but most earn a very good salary. Given that the FBI is one of the country’s most elite and key law enforcement agencies, agents and leaders in the office can expect to earn some of the best prosecution salaries.
FBI Special Agents, as a General Schedule (GS), fill 10 people on the pay scale of law enforcement agencies and can reach grade GS 13 for non-regulatory tasks.
Supervisory, management, and management positions are remunerated according to GS 14 and GS 15 levels. Brokers also receive local and availability compensation – a salary increase of about 25 percent due to overtime requirements.
- Even newly hired FBI agents earn over $50,000, taking into account the pay for the 20-week training course and starting salary.
- GS 10-13 annual salary range: 48,297-98,317 USD
- GS 14-15 annual salary range: 89,370 USD – 136,659 USD
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the best salary information organizations, does not compile specific data on “FBI agents,” there is a list of “police and detective” information, a category that would apply to most FBI agents,
According to BLS, these people earn an average of $ 58,630 a year. Detectives and investigators earned an average of $ 79,870 a year.
FBI Requirements (Education, Training, & Certification)
Serving as an FBI agent is a demanding task with strict entry requirements in various areas:
Education: Potential FBI officers must have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university.
Professional Experience: Three years of professional experience are required before joining the FBI.
Background: Potential agents undergo a comprehensive background review to assess both suitability and security. Part of the suitability of the check examines past criminal behavior or drug use as well as financial status and previous employment.
The security section examines the personal backgrounds of the candidates, including family history and any organizations they may have joined. As part of this review, friends and neighbors can be interviewed.
Training: All FBI agents begin their careers at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and undergo approximately 21 weeks of intensive training. During their time at the FBI Academy, the trainees live on campus and participate in a variety of activities.
Lessons cover various academic and research topics. The curriculum of the FBI Academy also includes intensive training in physical fitness, defensive tactics, hands-on practice exercises and the use of firearms.
Fitness: Candidates must pass a fitness test that includes five activities: sit-ups, 300-meter sprint, continuous push-ups, a timed 2.5-kilometer run, and pull-ups. Applicants must achieve a minimum score and a minimum cumulative score in each category.
FBI Agent Requirements (Skills & Competencies)
After qualifying for one of the five entry-level programs, candidates are prioritized in the recruitment process on the basis of certain critical skills for which the FBI is recruiting. These skills can include:
Accounting and Finance: The tracking of funds can be an integral part of many different types of investigations.
Information Technology: Computers are a common tool in most modern criminal enterprises. Therefore, it is often necessary to retrieve hidden data or monitor electronic communication.
Foreign languages: Since not all persons involved in investigations speak English, multilingual agents are particularly valuable.
Legal experience: Having good legal knowledge can help to initiate investigations in new areas or prevent other investigations from derailing due to legal errors.
Military Experience: The leadership and tactical training of the military can, under certain circumstances, be well transferred to law enforcement.
Scientific knowledge: Some evidence may be difficult to understand for people without a scientific background or education. Experience with scientific research methods also benefits all active ingredients.
How to Become a Special Agent with the FBI
Becoming a Special Agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a goal for many, but an actual destination for very few. The decision to apply for a badge can take years, and only those with the right training, preparation, and strength of character can hope to be one of the few chosen people to be hired.
The basic qualifications to become an FBI Special Agent are strict:
- Be an American citizen
- You must be between 23 and 36 years old unless you are looking for a veteran waiver
- Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college
- Have a valid state driver’s license
- You have worked as a specialist for at least two years (or one year for applicants with a master’s degree)
- Many agents have studied criminal law, political science, engineering, computer science or accounting and some have graduated in law.
- The FBI considers the mastery of applicants’ foreign language skills to be a particular strength and often seeks applicants who speak certain languages, such as Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Korean and Russian.
- Be prepared to go into dangerous situations and work for the enforcement of laws and the protection of human beings
Achieving these basic skills can be seen as a first step in becoming a specialist agent, and how you do so can affect your chances of being accepted and insisting on the selection process.
The age and citizenship qualifications are determined by yourself. If you cannot obtain a driver’s license without much difficulty, you should probably get the work of high-end law enforcement others
However, your decision on how to meet the training and work experience requirements lies primarily with the qualifiers you are in control of.
The Bureau values and accepts a broad range of academic degrees and professional backgrounds, from economics and accounting to engineering and science. If you have already graduated and gained the required experience, continue with the application process below.
Are there difficulties working as an FBI Agent?
The work of an FBI agent can be stressful and cause trouble. Although the planned working week could be 50 hours, many works more than that. A special agent is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can work on public holidays.
In addition, agents are often placed into atypical situations, including dealing with people in traumatic situations and crime scenes that can be cruel and death.
Agents may be transferred to one of the 56 field offices in the US or overseas for a temporary or extended period of time.
What is the FBI Application Process?
The application process is very extensive and includes interviews, written tests, polygraph tests, a background check, and drug tests.
Applicants must sign a clearance to allow the FBI to review their medical records, work records, military records, law enforcement records, credit records, and other records.
The Application Processes
Special FBI agents must acquire and conduct a top-secret security clearance. If you are planning to become an FBI agent, you should expect a similar process:
- Acquire the training and / or experience you need to become an FBI agent.
- Perform a Self-Physical Fitness Test (Self-PFT).
- Submit an application on the FBI website.
- You will be invited to take and pass the Phase I test, a three-hour exam focused on thinking and cognitive skills.
- Conduct a Meet and Greet interview.
- You will be invited to take and pass the Phase II tests and an official physical fitness test.
- You receive a conditional offer (CAO).
- Conduct a background study.
- You are assigned to train as a New Agent Trainee (NAT) at the 21-week FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
- Complete the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC) on a specific date in your local field office.
- Most FBI agents start their career as a law enforcement officer at a local or state police or sheriff department.
- Receive on-the-job training to gain 18 months of practical experience during a probationary period.
Jobs as an FBI agent are becoming a popular career opportunity for many people. The Federal Bureau of Investigation Agency is one of the top government agencies dealing with high-level criminal investigations, cartels, and national security hazards.
An FBI agent can be described as an agent working as an investigator for this agency. FBI agent jobs are extremely demanding but quite rewarding. You can visit the FBI official job website by clicking on the button below.
FBI Special Agent Application Process
The application and review process includes two test phases and a thorough background check that candidates pass through before they receive a conditional-date offer and begin training.
Submission of the application for screening
The application process starts online at www.fbijobs.gov. Candidates will create an account and submit their CV and other necessary documents. This contains:
- Official or unofficial university certificates
- Curriculum vitae in Federal Resume Template Format
- An SF-50 for applicants with current or previous federal experience
- A DD-214 or service statement for current or former military personnel
- One VA letter and one SF-15 form for disabled veterans
You will also choose a processing field office from one of the 56 domestic field offices in the U.S. This will serve as your initial location for testing and interviews. You do, however, need to be prepared to travel anywhere in the U.S. at later stages of the application process.
Phase I: Initial Assessment and Information
Applicants who have passed the preliminary screening will be invited to complete Phase I computational assessment within 21 days. In a three-hour exam you will be tested on:
- Logic-based thinking
- Figurative thinking
- Personality assessment
- Preferences and interests
- Situational judgment
The test is highly structured and it is recommended that applicants read the Test Guidelines for information on interpreting the questions.
Candidates who obtain the required score for the exam are invited to submit the additional required information and documentation. This includes self-assessment of skills to complete the Special Agent Physical Fitness Test, critical skills, and self-reported language skills.
At this stage, applicants will also participate in the first part of the personal assessment process, a Meet and Greet session, where they review the submitted application documents and other information and evaluate the material in the light of core competencies.
If you have reported language skills, you may also be asked to do a language test at this stage.
This phase lasts an average of 23 weeks.
Phase II: Testing and Interview
Candidates who pass the first tests then have to undergo the second round of testing, which includes written parts and interview parts.
Phase II begins with a test of writing skills. In a two-and-a-half-hour assessment, applicants are asked to read a fictitious scenario and provide typed reports.
Upon completion of the written test, candidates for a structured interview can be scheduled by three current Special Agents. The format is a typical performance-based government interview according to standardized criteria.
The Special Agent Physical Fitness Test
Passing Phase II leads to the FBI Physical Fitness Test, a fundamental assessment of physical performance measurement:
- Sit-ups are executed within one minute
- Timed 300-meter sprint
- Maximum number of pushups without time
- A distance of 1.5 miles
- Maximum number of pull-ups without time
Male and female candidates are scored on different scales and higher scores are required for special agents on the route to tactical units such as SWAT and HRT (Hostage and Rescue Team).
The Conditional Appointment Offer and Background Check
If approved, the candidate will receive a Conditional Letter of Appointment. This will be done shortly after the successful completion of the PFT and must be answered within five days.
Assuming that the offer is accepted, the longest phase of the application process will begin in the form of a background investigation to identify the candidate for the top-secret status.
A personal security interview, a polygraph, a drug test, and a medical exam are carried out quickly.
The Bureau then conducts interviews with friends, relatives, and staff to validate the information you provide. In addition, the Bureau conducts extensive desk checks and criminal investigations.
This can take 18 months or even longer if an applicant has already lived overseas or traveled extensively.
Basic Field Training
The final phase before the internship is the Basic Field Training Course at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. If this option is selected, the applicants will become employees of the new agent trainee position at GS-10 salary level 1. Only upon successful completion of the training, will they become fully-fledged Special Agents.
In 21 weeks of intensive training, new agent trainees receive 800 hours of instruction in four main concentration areas:
- Fall exercises
- Gun training
- Operational skills
Under the watchful eye of professional instructors and experts from all departments of the office, trainees are trained in all aspects of the detection, investigation, and prosecution of criminal offenses, as well as in the essential elements of counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.
It is a challenging curriculum based on real-world cases and detailed role-playing and practical exercises.
Although the standards are high throughout the application process, the goal of becoming an FBI Special Agent is achievable if you have the necessary knowledge, reason, and character to do the job.
The FBI Academy
Once you’ve gone through all the steps, you’ll be invited to a special-agent class at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The 21-week training program requires you to live on campus, spend hours in the classroom, and learn weapon skills, defense tactics, and other special abilities.
The FBI Academy is mentally and physically exhausting, and special-apprentice trainees must maintain their physical fitness. If an agent trainee fails his fitness test for the first or seventh week, he will be sent home.
The academic requirements are just as high and the failure of tests and qualifications will make you unemployed.
Becoming an FBI agent is an extremely difficult and competitive process. It takes years of time, planning and hard work to become the candidate the FBI wants to hire. It will not happen overnight, and the hiring process itself can take a year or more.
In the end, however, a career as an FBI Special Agent offers unique challenges, opportunities, and rewards. If you want to work for the FBI, now is the time to start planning for your future.
How to become an FBI Agent | FAQs
How long does it take to become an FBI agent?
To become an FBI agent, you must obtain an official degree in criminal justice. In addition, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a subject of your choice, followed by a masters degree in criminology or criminal justice.
The Bachelor is a 4 year degree program and the Master’s degree in Criminal Justice can be completed within 2 years. Therefore, it can take about 6 years to become an FBI agent.
Do I have to do a bachelor’s degree if I want to work as an FBI agent?
Yes, it is required that you have a Bachelor’s degree. This is a bachelor’s program offered by many colleges and universities.
It is recommended that you seek a degree in a related academic field, such as criminal law, business administration or finance and accounting. You can also opt for a bachelor’s degree online if you cannot attend a campus lesson.
How do I become an FBI agent?
If you want to become an FBI agent, you must meet the following conditions: You must have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university, have US citizenship and be under the age of 37. As an FBI agent, you must apply for sign up for a special training program from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Is the work of the FBI agents interesting and does it receive fringe benefits?
FBI agents have a very demanding job. It depends on whether you have the right temperament and like investigative and intelligence jobs. Then you will find it interesting.
The compensation scale depends on your experience and your rank in the field. However, FBI agents receive benefits such as accommodation, travel, insurance and retirement benefits.
What is the basic work schedule of an FBI agent?
FBI agents work with the federal bureau of the investigative authority. The job description and the work plan depend on which FBI department the person works in. FBI agents typically need to perform a series of tasks z go through other records.
I’m looking for a career as an FBI agent. What are the main requirements for FBI training?
Before you apply as an FBI agent, it is important that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. The most suitable study areas are cybercrime, computer forensics, criminal law, biology and business administration. These degrees can also be obtained online through accredited online schools. Candidates must also hold a valid US citizenship.
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