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FBI Agent

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice whose mission is to protect and defend the United States against terrorist intelligence threats, uphold and enforce the laws of the U.S., and provide assistance and criminal justice services to other law enforcement agencies at the municipal, state, federal and international levels.

FBI Special Agents are responsible for conducting investigations concerning national security and enforcing federal statutes. They contend with criminal activities that can include terrorism, foreign counterintelligence and domestic and international drug trafficking, but they also handle fugitive matters, public corruption allegations, civil rights violations, bribery and numerous other violations of federal laws and statutes.

Degrees for FBI Agents

A degree from an accredited four-year college is a standard requirement for employment as an FBI agent. Although the FBI emphasizes degrees in specific core disciplines, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related discipline can prove invaluable in qualifying for this position.

FBI Agent Job Description

The FBI is empowered to investigate violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, making the scope of its investigative jurisdiction second only to that of the United States Marshal Service. Agents are authorized to conduct surveillance, examine business records and engage in undercover assignments.

The FBI’s current priorities for investigation are:

  1. Terrorist attacks (counterterrorism)
  2. Foreign intelligence operations and espionage (counterintelligence)
  3. Cyber attacks and other high-tech crimes
  4. Public corruption
  5. Civil rights violations

Other priorities include investigating and fighting organized crime, violent crime, white-collar and financial crime, copyright infringement, bribery and extortion, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

FBI Agent Job Requirements

Applicants to the FBI must fulfill a number of requirements before they can be considered as candidates. They must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be between the ages of 23 and 37
  • Possess a four-year degree from an accredited college or university with a major in accounting, electrical engineering or information technology. They may also earn a degree from an accredited law school.
  • Have a minimum of three years full-time work experience
  • Be fluent in a foreign language
  • Pass numerous physical tests, including hearing, vision and color tests, a medical history exam and a strenuous physical fitness test
  • Pass a drug screening test and a detailed background investigation to receive the mandatory security clearance
  • Be available for relocation anywhere within the FBI’s jurisdiction

FBI Agent Salary

More than 30,000 people were employed by the FBI in 2006, including more than 12,000 special agents and nearly 18,000 support personnel. These included language and information technology specialists, intelligence analysts, scientists, forensic experts and other specialists.

Salary for an agent in the FBI Academy training program is approximately $43,000. Entry-level agents begin at the GS 10 pay scale range, with salaries ranging from about $61,000 to $70,000 per year. Executive positions within the bureau, in the GS 14 and GS 15 pay grades, can earn salaries ranging from $75,000 to more than $90,000 per year.

In the current climate of highly active antiterrorist activity and increased demands for additional security and protection, the outlook for hiring within the FBI is good. However, the competition for agent positions can be fierce and meeting the requirements for application can be a daunting task.



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