FBI agents work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is the chief investigatory office of the federal government, along with being one of the world’s most elite law enforcement agencies. Called special agents, FBI agents utilize various means of intelligence to protect the country and apprehend those who violate federal laws. FBI agents investigate crimes such as terrorism, espionage, white-collar crime, bank robberies, blackmail, racketeering, drug trafficking, interstate criminal activity, copyright infringement, and civil rights violations.
What Does an FBI Agent Do?
The primary duty of an FBI agent is to gather and analyze intelligence and investigate crimes. Agents do a variety of jobs from tracking stolen goods across state lines to examining business records. They go undercover when necessary, and utilize legal wiretaps and high-tech surveillance.
FBI agents choose one of five specialties: intelligence, counterterrorism, criminal, cyber, or counterintelligence. Agents who choose counterintelligence or counterterrorism may opt to pursue another specialty, e.g., weapons of mass destruction.
FBI Entry Requirements
Anyone desiring to become an FBI agent must pass stringent entry requirements. Potential agents must have graduated from an accredited college or university and have a minimum of three years’ work experience in a professional capacity.
Applicants to the FBI must have exceptional qualifications in one of the following areas: accounting, computer science/information technology, language, law, or be diversified. The competition is fierce. Thus, candidates with exceptional academic credentials and/or foreign language skills will have an advantage over others.
Potential agents must be U.S. citizens (or citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands), 23 to 37 years of age, and possess a valid driver’s license. Moreover, applicants must pass the special agent physical requirements, which are very demanding, as well as an all-embracing FBI background check.
After qualifying for the entry program, applicants are categorized based upon skills and abilities for which the FBI has a current need. The following skill sets are usually in demand and receive priority on a demand basis: accounting, finance, engineering, foreign language fluency, legal, investigative, military, physics, chemistry, biology, and technology.
Successful applicants are sent to Quantico, Virginia, where they attend the FBI Academy. The training period is 21 weeks and is very intensive. Trainees live on the campus and participate in classroom studies as well as intensive physical training, defensive tactics, practical exercises, and firearm training.
About the FBI
The FBI maintains fifty-six field offices throughout the United States. Recently graduated special agents will be assigned to one of these field offices. FBI Agents begin as GS-10 employees on the government pay scale and may advance to the GS-13 grade level in field assignments. Promotions to higher levels are based on education and performance. With locality and other pay adjustments, new FBI Agents earn from $61,100 to $69,000 per year.