The FBI is tasked with upholding federal law in the United States. Working with other law-enforcement agencies on both the local and federal level, the FBI employs a robust workforce with a wide range of skills.
The process of becoming an FBI agent is a rigorous one and requires dedication and a strong work ethic. According to FBIAgentEDU.org, “FBI Special Agents are trustworthy and honorable, and they possess a strict moral compass and a commitment to protecting the nation’s economy and infrastructure.”
Here is an overview of what it takes to become an FBI agent and what the job entails.
The Role of Education
Every FBI agent applicant must have at least a bachelor’s degree, although higher education can help your chances of getting hired. The degree you choose to pursue can be in a variety of subjects. According to Study.com, “The type of degree depends on which entry program an individual is interested in.” There are five different entry programs, including accounting and computer science.
Applicants interested in the “diversified entry program” can have a B.S. or B.A. in a range of subjects, as opposed to the other narrower entry programs. Having a master’s degree can help an applicant looking for a more specialized position in the FBI.
The FBI requires that applicants have at least three years of work experience related to their degree. According to Study.com, professional experience in fields like accounting, foreign language or engineering is preferred.
Internships are also beneficial, and a student can intern at the FBI to gain experience in the field.
The Application Process
After meeting the educational and occupational prerequisites, candidates must apply online. According to FBIAgentEDU.org, if selected, candidates go through two phases of in-person testing. These tests include written portions and an interview.
Selected candidates then go through a background check, a physical fitness test and a medical examination. The background check is extensive, including interviews with employers and people close to the applicant. The physical fitness test involves situps, pushups and running.
The FBI Academy and Probationary Period
Once applicants have met all the educational and employment requirements and passed the background, fitness and medical tests, they undergo 20 weeks of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. According to Study.com, “FBI special agent training consists of classroom time and hands-on instruction … as well as online instruction.”
Applicants become FBI special agents once the training at the Academy is complete. They are then assigned a mentor for a two-year period to further their training.
According to PayScale, “An entry-level FBI agent with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $65,383 [per year].” As in most careers, compensation trends upward with experience and specialization.
There may be many hurdles on the road to becoming an FBI agent that those with passion, drive and a strong work ethic can overcome. Though being an FBI agent can involve significant amounts of travel, physical risk and stress, it can be a highly satisfying career for those who want to help protect their community and country.