Learn How to Become an FBI Agent Learn about the job description, responsibilities, and steps to becoming a federal special agent. FBI agents are in charge of protecting American citizens, preserving the Constitution, and defending the country against high-level domestic and international threats.
They regularly tackle terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime, examining the country’s most dangerous criminals. In addition, special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation fight advanced crime with knowledge and abilities that blue-collar crime lacks.
How to Become an FBI Agent
1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
Earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step in How to Become an FBI Agent. Although the type of degree chosen is up to the individual, the FBI does require expertise and competence in specified fields. Currently, the FBI is looking for special agent candidates who fit into the following categories:
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
- Military/Law Enforcement
- Healthcare Services/Medical
A bachelor’s degree in one of these subjects is a necessary first step toward becoming a special agent with the FBI. The FBI considers numerous college degrees valuable, as evidenced by this comprehensive list. Not only are criminology and criminal justice degrees sought after by FBI recruiters, but psychology, linguistics, and accountancy are also acknowledged as important subjects of study. Because these categories span a wide range of popular bachelor’s degree programs, many college graduates have already taken the first step toward becoming FBI special agents.
- Complete an internship: Participating in an internship can help students expand their education outside of a classroom environment and gain hands-on training in the field. These internships also allow students to explore whether an FBI career is right for them and to begin to network with FBI employees or other prospective FBI agents. Students can apply for both paid and non-paid internships directly through the FBI.
- Consider an advanced degree: While a bachelor’s degree is the required minimum for employment, possessing a higher degree could help an applicant stand out in the competitive FBI application process. In addition, a master’s degree in a field like criminology could also allow applicants to enter a more specialized special agent position.
- Build physical strength: Since a physical examination is part of the FBI hiring process, students should begin building their strength and endurance as soon as possible. In addition, students can participate in cardiovascular and strength-training routines while still in college.
- Learn a foreign language: Knowing foreign languages is a vital asset for anyone looking to work for the FBI. FBI agents often interact with individuals whose native language is not English or who do not know English. Foreign languages of particular interest to the FBI as of 2012 include Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, and Somali. Although the knowledge of a foreign language is not a requirement for becoming a federal agent, it can help distinguish an individual’s FBI application even if one’s bachelor’s degree did not focus on language study.
2. Gain Work Experience
Work experience is an essential aspect of how to get into the FBI. For a potential FBI special agent post, three years of work experience is required in a field connected to their degree. In addition, the FBI is looking for people with specific vital talents, such as accounting, engineering, law, the military, science, or foreign languages. Thus full-time professional work in these fields is preferable.
The FBI also seeks to work well in a team while also working independently, two qualities that can be demonstrated through work experience. In addition, this work experience shows the FBI that an applicant’s talents have been demonstrated and honed via practical application.
3. Complete the FBI Application Process
Because FBI special agent employment is so sensitive, all applicants must pass a thorough background check, a polygraph, and a drug test. In addition, individuals who have been convicted of a felony or who have defaulted on their student loans are also ineligible. The background check entails a thorough review of all records, including a credit check, as well as interviews with family, friends, coworkers, and other individuals with whom the candidate has had contact during their life. As a result, the background check procedure can take many months, but it is necessary for the FBI application process.
Meeting stringent physical fitness levels is another necessity for FBI special agents. Applicants must have a physical examination by a doctor and provide the agency with their medical records. In addition, they must be able to see and hear in a certain way. They must also complete a self-assessment physical fitness exam that includes as many sit-ups and push-ups as possible and a timed 300-meter sprint and 1.5-mile run.
4. Complete FBI Academy Training
After passing all the qualifications and tests, an applicant must attend the FBI Academy for 20 weeks of on-campus training. This course teaches people how to work as FBI agents. Classroom time and hands-on teaching, including firearm training, are included in FBI special agent training and online instruction. Graduates are sworn in as FBI special agents after completing the program. They are then assigned to a field office and begin a two-year probationary term during which a particular agent will mentor them to assist them in applying their training to new missions.
Pursue continuing education: FBI special agents can continue their education throughout their careers by applying for training in specialized areas of the FBI. For example, special agents interested in learning more about criminal behaviour could use it for training offered by the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit. Likewise, agents interested in learning more about counterintelligence could attend the Intelligence Training Section provided by the Academy.
Get promoted: All FBI special agents are assigned the same government clearance level at the beginning of their careers. Over time, agents become eligible for advancement to higher levels and a corresponding pay raise or promotion.