How to Become an FBI Agent
An FBI Agent is responsible for investigating crimes within the US such as murder, fraud, kidnapping, or armed robbery. They are also active within counter-terrorism, detecting and eliminating threats both within and outside of the US.
Working as an FBI agent, you'll be at the top of your law enforcement career, and these agents are the best in the business. Keep in mind that you'll be up for a lot of hard work on the road to becoming an FBI agent. You won't have any secrets from your employer, and need to be ready to put your professional life before your personal life.
To become an FBI agent, your success will weigh heavily on excellent problem solving skills and attention to detail. You will need to be thorough, organized, and exact in your approach to work. Communication skills are essential, both written and verbal. You'll also need good interpersonal skills, as you'll spend much time talking with colleagues, as well as people from the community, and at times the media.
Education Requirements to Become an FBI Agent
To become an FBI agent, you'll need to be between 23 and 37 years of age, and also be a US citizen. The FBI makes new recruits pass a series of strenuous physical and mental tests before admission. You must have a high level of fitness, near-perfect hearing and vision, and be of sound and stable personality.
As far as your academic qualifications go, to gain entry to the FBI you'll need a bachelor's degree. Subjects in law enforcement, science, accounting, and forensics will be highly regarded. There are colleges which offer specialized FBI programs.
After college, you can apply for employment with the FBI. Be prepared for very detailed background checks and demanding interviews. You'll also need to pass the physical and psychological components of the testing.
If selected, you'll undergo four months of vigorous training at Quantico, Virginia. After this you'll be given your first post as an FBI agent where you will need to complete a two year probationary period.
FBI Agent Job Description
There are many different roles that an FBI agent could find themselves undertaking. Some agents work in research, spending most of their time behind a desk. Others are almost always out on the field, talking with suspects and witnesses, and gathering evidence to solve crimes. Here are some of the more typical duties of an FBI agent.
- Investigating a crime scene
- Collecting evidence
- Interviewing suspects and witnesses
- Working with local law enforcement
- Communicating with the media
- Preparing reports
- Testifying in court
FBI Agent Salary and Career Path
Most FBI Agents will begin their career working in the FBIs head office in Washington. They may be desk bound, or be working as an assistant to another agent. They will investigate a wide range of cases and perform many duties. After a few years of experience, you may be able to perform specialized duties. This means that you will do a lot more field work, and work either with a partner or on your own.
There are FBI agents that specialize in linguistics, coding, hostage situations, and homeland security, just to name a few. Your career path will be determined by your skill set and interests. There are five formal career paths within the FBI:
- Intelligence - Investigating threats to US security, assisting law enforcement agencies.
- Counterintelligence - Preventing other nations penetrating US intelligence, preventing other nations gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.
- Criminal - Investigating and detecting crime within the US.
- Cyber - Investigating and detecting crime related to computers and networks
- Counterterrorism - Detect and eliminate terrorist threats both within and outside of the US.
Entry into the FBI is competitive, and the turnover is very low, with very few people leaving. Due to agents retiring, or the agency expanding, there are intakes for new agents.
Salary usually increases in increments which are scheduled. Beginning agents are paid $42,000 a year, but with overtime earn close to $53,000 on average. Agents who complete field assignments without supervision get paid around $63,000 a year, closer to $80,000 with overtime. Agents within a supervisory position earn around $73,000.
If you're interested in law enforcement and national security then you may want to become an FBI agent. Entry is competitive, however those that make it stay with the agency for their careers. Salary is good and employment very secure.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics