FBI Agent Career Path

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Agency was started in the 1920s by J. Edgar Hoover and today represents the United States’ premier law enforcement agency for federal crimes. It is also the country’s front line against espionage within U.S. borders. Obtaining a career as an FBI special agent requires completing a lengthy list of prerequisites and criteria.

Prerequisites

Before applying here are the things you must consider. You must be a U.S. citizen to apply for a job with the FBI. Recruits must be at least 23 years old at the time of application, but younger than 37 by the time they are assigned full agent status. In some cases, veterans can obtain an age waiver, so check with your local bureau office for details if you are interested in becoming an FBI agent after age 37. All recruits must have a four-year college degree from an accredited educational institution. New graduates must have evidence of at least three years of work experience prior to application, and every recruit has to have a valid driver’s license. Recruits need to be willing and able to work anywhere the FBI has an office. Expect to get moved around often, as new agents are often assigned to different states and locations than where they were recruited.

If qualified, you will undergo an extensive background check to validate your history, including any government records, past personal history, and tax records. Understand that applying to the FBI means you will have to disclose your personal history to investigators, who will build an extensive personal profile based on hiring investigations, interviews with friends, references, neighbors, co-workers, former employers, teachers, and acquaintances.

Training and Testing

Recruits are given extensive physical and class training on how to function, operate, work, and cooperate as a special agent, working alongside other agents in the FBI. After passing the initial training, recruits are designated as special agents and assigned to their home station in any of the 50 states, territories, or international offices where the FBI operates.

Specializations

Special agents are hired into the FBI in one of five categories: accounting, information technology, language, law, and the catch-all diversified category. Requirements for each sector of the FBI vary:

  • Accounting candidates must have a CPA license or have worked in a progressively demanding role in public finance and accounting, such as federal accounting or a state controller’s office.
  • Information technology candidates must have an IT degree, an electrical engineering degree, or an industry Cisco certification for network management. Those who come in with an industry certification must have a college degree in another field.
  • Language candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in a specific language aside from their primary language. The FBI’s demands change from time to time for languages, so those who have a needed skill tend to get prioritized on demand. For example, candidates with Arabic, Russian, and Asian language capabilities are currently highly sought after.
  • Law candidates must have a law degree from a recognized law school.
  • The diversified category is a catch-all for multi-talented recruits who wish to enter the FBI. A college bachelor’s degree is required as well as work experience or an advanced degree.

Also consider: U.S. Secret Service Training