FBI Agents – Career, Job, and Degrees

As of March 2018, the FBI had approximately 35,000 employees. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigates U.S. statute violations and is responsible for law enforcement. FBI agents supervise court-ordered wiretaps, participate in undercover work, track interstate movement of stolen property, examine business records, investigate white-collar crime, and investigate possible foreign espionage. The FBI also investigates drug trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, defrauding the government, public corruption, bribery, copyright infringement, bank robbery, civil rights violations, extortion, financial crimes, kidnapping, and air piracy.

The following are specific investigative programs conducted by FBI agents each year:

  • Counterterrorism
  • Counterintelligence
  • Cyber Crime
  • Public Corruption
  • Civil Rights
  • Organized Crime
  • Violent Gangs
  • White-Collar Crime
  • Significant Violent Crime
  • Fugitives
  • Crimes Against Children
  • Art Crime
  • Environmental Crime
  • Background Investigations
  • Indian Country

Individuals wanting to be FBI agents must hold bachelor's degrees and have a minimum of 3 years of related work experience. People desiring to work in FBI law enforcement should have experience in law enforcement, the military, or other legal experience. Those working in financial fraud should have a background in finance.

Potential agents must pass medical and physical exams as well as written and verbal examinations. Potential agents will receive a thorough background check and psychological examination. Candidates must be between the ages of 23-36 at the time of the application.

As the FBI&’s main responsibility is criminal law enforcement, all FBI agents must qualify for a top-secret security clearance by passing an extensive background investigation. The FBI does not make a final decision as to whether or not an individual qualifies to become an FBI agent until all the information gathered during the background investigation has been gathered and analyzed. Once an individual is hired, they must maintain their eligibility for security clearance by passing a new background check every five years, as well as submit to random and regular drug tests throughout their careers.

FBI agents are assigned to work both domestically and abroad. As an FBI you may be assigned to work anywhere in the world. Along with its Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the FBI has 56 field offices located in major cities throughout the U.S. as well as over 400 resident agencies in smaller towns and cities across the nation. The FBI has more than 60 international offices called “Legal Attaches” located in U.S. embassies in diverse locations in other countries.

What is the FBI looking for in its applicants?

The FBI seeks candidates with bachelors or master's degrees in science, engineering, accounting, finance, foreign languages, or criminal justice. The FBI will only look at a candidate if they possess one of the following abilities:

  • 2 years of accounting or finance experience or being a CPA
  • Experience in computer science and information technology
  • Engineering experience
  • Fluency in a foreign language (Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Russian)
  • Investigative or law enforcement experience
  • Legal experience (attorneys)
  • Military experience
  • Experience in chemistry, physics, and biology

Training and Educational Requirements

FBI agents must possess a bachelor’s or master’s degree and have 2 to 3 years of relevant work experience. Many FBI agents possess law degrees or other professional certificates. Accepted candidates spend 17 weeks at the FBI academy located on the US Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA.

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