How to Become an FBI Agent

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a branch of the Department of Justice, and is the main U.S. crime investigators. The function of the FBI is to enforce U.S. laws, defend the country against any threat – foreign or domestic – and to provide support for other law enforcement agencies. Because the FBI may investigate crimes related to over 200 categories federal law, FBI agents tend to specialize in a particular area.

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FBI agents often conduct surveillance activities, such as monitoring wire-tapping or working undercover. They may be involved in the investigation of large-scale criminal activities such as organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, and cybercrime. Additionally, the FBI is involved in investigating incidents such as airplane hijackings and terrorist threats.

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Undoubtedly, the job of FBI agent is very stressful; although the scheduled workweek might be 40 hours, many work more than that. Further, agents may be often placed in atypical situations, including dealing with people in traumatic situations and crime scenes that are grisly and involve death.

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Become an FBI Agent: Education and Other Requirements

To become an FBI Agent, a candidate must possess the right education, background, mental and physical constitution. The minimum education requirement for someone interested in becoming an FBI agent is a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Many agents have studied criminal justice, political science, or business, and some of them have completed a law degree. Prospective FBI agents must have an bachelor’s degree and three years of related work experience, or an advanced degree (master’s degree or higher) and two years of related work experience. The FBI considers applicants’ fluency in a foreign language as a particular strength. In addition to education and work experience, people who are interested in becoming an FBI agent should be physically fit, have a strong mental attitude, be willing to be placed in dangerous situations, and be committed to the enforcement of laws and protecting people. Often, the FBI requires its agents to either relocate to another city or to travel extensively.

Applicants who desire to be an FBI agent are required to consent to a thorough background check and to polygraph tests. As with any job, applicants participate in interviews and have their references checked. FBI jobs require a security clearance, and there may be additional requirements for that.

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Did you know? The largest division in the FBI is the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) which manages the largest fingerprint database in the world with data on over 47 million people.

Source: HowStuffWorks

FBI Salary & Benefits

The pay range for FBI agents starts at around $50,000 for an agent who is in training. After they finish their training program and are assigned their first case, their pay jumps to between $60,000 and $70,000, depending on what area of the country they are serving. For agents who stay with the FBI a long time, they reach the status of “senior agent”, and may earn as much as $120,000 per year. In addition to their salary, FBI agents receive benefits including health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid vacations and holidays.

FBI Training at FBI Academy

Once you are accepted as a new agent, you attend a 21-week training course at the FBI Academy in Virginia.

FBI & Law Enforcement Related Degrees from Accredited Schools

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS - Homeland Security
  • MS - Homeland Security
  • MS - Criminal Justice

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American InterContinental University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor's of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor's - Homeland Security and Crisis Management
  • Associate's (AABA) - Criminal Justice Administration

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Keiser University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, BA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Legal Studies, BA (Online)

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Virginia College
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Masters of Science in Management in Homeland Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Masters in Criminal Justice: Command College

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California University of Pennsylvania
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Master of Science in Legal Studies: Homeland Security
  • Master of Science in Legal Studies: Criminal Justice
  • MA in Social Science (Applied Criminology)



Page Edited by Charles Sipe.