A career in federal law enforcement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can provide you with the chance to dedicate your skills and expertise to protecting the American people. Because FBI agents are tasked with enforcing federal statutes, conducting criminal and national security investigations, gathering intelligence, and other important law enforcement work, an FBI Agent Salary is one that can be financially rewarding.
The Components of an FBI Agent Salary
FBI agent salary and benefits are based on federal salary classifications and pay rates. If you are interested in in a career in federal law enforcement, understanding this system will help you to explore your possible earnings working for the Bureau.
Agents begin their career with the FBI in the entry-level position of Special Agent. As employees of the federal government, new FBI Special Agents are paid according to the pay scale set for Federal Law Enforcement Officers. Base pay, cost-of-living allowance (also called locality pay), and availability pay are all part of an agent’s total wage:
- Base pay is the initial rate of compensation an employee earns. New Agent Trainees at the FBI Academy start at the GL-10 pay grade. As of 2017, the annual salary base rate for agents in this classification started at $49,218.Special Agents with advanced degrees and extensive work experience earn larger base salaries. According to the FBI Jobs recruiting website, applicants with prior civilian government service may be able to receive higher pay based on their previous earnings.
- Locality pay is an adjustment to wages for the cost-of-living in each region. With 56 FBI field offices across the United States and abroad, this part of an agent’s salary depends on the office to which they are assigned. During Basic Field Training, for example, pay for new agents includes locality pay for the Washington D.C. area. In 2017, the base rate plus locality pay for new agents in training started at $62,556.
FBI Special Agents who have completed training and have been assigned to their first field duties can earn a wage (including locality pay) between $56,000 – $68,000 depending on location – prior to availability pay.
- Availability pay compensates Special Agents for the extra hours they are often expected to work. If they meet certain requirements, new agents may be eligible for availability pay, which is calculated at 25 percent of the agent’s basic pay (base plus locality).
For current salary tables, including locality pay rates for various areas of the country, refer to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website. For more information on availability pay, visit the OPM Fact Sheet on pay administration.
FBI Agent Benefits
FBI agents are also eligible to receive a comprehensive benefits package from the federal government, including the following:
- Group health and life insurance programs
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
- Time off (including federal holidays, annual vacation, and sick leave)
- Professional development
- Tuition reimbursement
- Student loan repayment
- A full retirement plan
As Special Agents gain experience, they will have opportunities to advance in their career and qualify for pay raises and promotions. There are a variety of executive and managerial positions that are available to agents.According to the Special Agent Candidate Information Packet, field, nonsupervisory assignments can advance to the GS-13 pay grade level. With their extensive service with the FBI, supervisors, managers, and executive positions within the agency, including Senior Executive Service, may qualify for grades GS-14 and GS-15.
The federal government typically adjusts the federal pay schedule annually each January to reflect a pay increase based on nationwide changes in the earnings of private-sector workers.For more information on the federal government General Schedule classification and pay system, visit the Office of Personnel Management’s “Salaries” page.
With approximately 35,000 employees, the FBI employs professionals across a variety of career fields. Individuals from all backgrounds and experiences can find a career for them in the agency.Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically track FBI agents, they have projected employment of police and detectives, and other public safety professions to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024.Career paths with the FBI include five major operations and intelligence areas, including:
- Special agents
- Intelligence analysts
- Forensic accounting
- Foreign languages
- Arts and communications
- Business and administration
- Facilities and logistics
- Medical and counseling
- Police and security
- The Balance
- BI Jobs
- FBI: Special Agent Candidate Information Packet
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)