How to Become an FBI Agent


The Federal Bureau of Investigation is a prestigious national security organization that has been defending the nation for over a century now.  Over the years, the agency has upgraded its services and divisions to combat criminal organizations and high-technology crimes. Ranked among the leading crime fighting agencies in the world, the FBI hires the best of the best to provide outstanding services. If you are interested in solving high-profile crimes and catching the most “wanted” criminals, becoming an FBI agent is a worthy career-choice.

Why Become a FBI Special Agent?

FBI agents are highly respected for their services. The job comes with social prestige and honor. You must be wondering what does it take to become an FBI agent. Before going ahead with the application process, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Are you ready to be in dangerous and potentially life threatening situations?
  • Do you have the drive and passion to protect you country?
  • Do you enjoy challenges?
  • Can you withstand physical and mental stress?
  • Can you tackle and respond to emergencies?
Why Become a FBI Special Agent?
How to Become an FBI Agent

What Are The Requirements to Become an FBI Agent

Joining the FBI is not as easy as you may think. Not only do you have to be educated, but must be physically fit, be a person of integrity, and should meet the eligibility criteria of the agency. In 2012, around 50,000 applications for only 900 special agent vacancies were received. Here are the minimum requirements for the job:

  • US citizenship
  • Between the age of 23 and 36.5; age waiver may be available for some
  • At least a bachelor level degree from an accredited college
  • At least 3 years of work experience (full-time), this should not include summer jobs, internships, temporary employment, and volunteer work. The following applicants can seek a work experience waiver:
  • Applicants with law, computer science, or IT degrees
  • Certified public accountants
  • Applicants who can attain a 3 or higher score on an FBI Language Test
  • Former FBI Honors interns (with minimum 3.0 GPA)
  • Applicants who have an advanced degree
  • Resident of the United States (for the past 3-5 years)
  • Possess a valid driver’s license

What Will Disqualify you for the Position:

  • Convicted of a felony or misdemeanor
  • Willingly engaged in any activity geared towards overthrowing the US government by force
  • Failed to pay child support ordered by the court
  • Defaulted on federal student loans
  • Failed to file tax returns
  • Failed to meet drug test/use guidelines set by the FBI

What Are The Steps To Becoming An FBI Agent

Submit an Online Application

You must fill out an application for the special agent position online via fbijobs.gov or usajobs.gov. The application must reflect your level of education, skill, and abilities. The agency will determine your competitiveness based on the information provided on the application.

Phase-1 Test

This exam will test your behavioral, cognitive, and logical reasoning skills. The test is scheduled at a testing center (you will be notified via email). Applicants will have approximately 3 hours to complete the test.

Phase-2 testing: structured interview

Applicants who pass the phase-1 test will be required to pass a structured interview that is administered by a panel of special agents. The interview can take around 1 hour. During the interview, the following areas will be scored:

  • Critical thinking and decision-making
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organization and planning
  • Verbal communication
  • Initiative and motivation

Applicants may also have to take part in a writing exercise. This exercise will determine an applicant’s ability to prepare comprehensive reports and analyze data.

Pass a Physical Fitness test

After passing phase 1 and 2 of testing, applicants will be required to take a physical fitness test (PFT). Since the job of a special agent can be dangerous, applicants must be able to meet various demands of physical fitness and acquire at least 12 points (minimum 1 point in each event). The PFT will comprise of different events, which include:

  • Maximum number of push-ups in one minute
  • Maximum number of sit-ups in one minute
  • Pull-ups
  • 5 mile run (timed)
  • 300 meter sprint (timed)

Applicants will also be required to pass a vision and hearing test. In the last phase of this test, the applicant’s medical history will be reviewed and analyzed. The employment process may be delayed for individuals who have medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.

Academy

Applicants who complete all the above mentioned steps may be asked to join the FBI academy to participate in a 21-week training program. The program will include physical training, academic learning, and law enforcement training.

How Long Does it Take to Become a FBI Agent

It can take around 5-6 years to become an agent. After high school, individuals must earn a 4-year degree, and then apply for the position. The training and placement may take a further 6-12 months. The exact duration will vary.

What Do FBI Special Agents Do?

  • Conduct investigations
  • Enforce law
  • Investigate white collar crimes
  • Investigate cyber crimes

Salary and Benefits

As a new agent trainee, you will be paid the GS-10 (step 1 level) salary. Your first office assignment will entitle you to a minimum wage of $61,100. The exact salary figure will vary from region to region. Alongside monetary benefits, FBI agents also receive health and life insurance, retirement plans, sick leaves, paid vacations, and other fringe benefits.