A Career with the FBI
by: Diana Clarke
Do you have what it takes to become an FBI special agent? Do you
have a sincere desire to enforce federal laws and investigate
This job requires hard work and can often times be dangerous and
stressful. You'll undoubtedly be in close contact with crimminals
and victims of crime. But a special agent's job is rewarding if you
enjoy serving the public. Long before applying for a job as an FBI
special agent, you'll need to plan carefully what you need to do to
The FBI Special Agent
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents are the
Government's primary investigators, who investigate criminal
violations of over 260 statutes not assigned to another federal
agency. Agents may conduct surveillance, monitor wiretaps, examine
financial records, or participate in undercover assignments, just to
name a few.
The FBI investigates organized crime, white collar crime, such as
health care fraud, counterterrorism, copyright infringement, civil
rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, terrorism,
espionage, violent crimes, drug trafficking, and other violations of
The following was adapted from The Federal Bureau of
Investigation, Facts and Figures 2003, FBI Priorities
The FBI's priorities are to:
- Protect the United States from terrorist attack.
- Protect the United States against foreign intelligence
operations and espionage.
- Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and
high-technology crimes. Combat public corruption at all levels.
- Protect civil rights.
- Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and
- Combat major white-collar crime. Combat significant violent
- Support federal, state, county, municipal, and international
- Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI's mission.
The FBI looks for job applicants who have skills in
interrogation, report writing, surveillance, and giving testimony.
The selection process also includes cognitive tests, an interview,
background check, polygraph test, and drug test.
- · Be a U.S. citizen, or a
citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands
- · Be at least 23 of age but
- · Be available to work when and
- · Pass hearing and vision
tests, including a color vision test
- · Possess a valid driver's
- · Be in excellent physical
- · Possess a national or
regionally accredited 4-year degree in a foreign language, law,
accounting, or another field plus three years of full time
The FBI also looks for individuals with character traits, such as
honesty and sound judgement.
Physical Training Requirements
An example of a requirement would be the PRT, a 1.5 mile run
test, passed with scores of 14 minutes 10 seconds or under for
females and 12 minutes 40 seconds or under for males.
The candidate for a scientist position must first qualify under
an existing entry program and have a degree in physics, chemistry,
mathematics, biology, nursing, bio-chemistry, Forensics, Medical
specialties, or related field. The candidate for a Forensic
Scientist position should major in biochemistry, biology or
biotechnology. The Forensic scientist analyzes evidence such as
hairs, firearms, DNA, photographs, fingerprints, and handwriting
examples and testifies verbally and in writing.
Advice from a former FBI profiler
John Douglas, a former FBI profiler, offers the follow advice for
aspiring FBI special agents:
Don't major in a course you dislike, such as accounting, because
you think it will help you to become a special agent. "Make sure
your primary focus is finding a career you enjoy," says Douglas.
- · Seek leadership
- · Develop skills the FBI
- · Do community service.
- · Maintain a clean record--no
jail term or felony and good credit.
- · Maintain good grade point
- · Consider ROTC.
- · Complete an internship.
For more information on employment as a FBI Special Agent, check
your phone directory for your state FBI office. Or visit the FBI
the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2002-2003, US Department of
Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Federal Bureau of Investigation (www.fbi.gov)
John Douglas's Guide to Careers in the FBI,1998, Kaplan Books,
Simon and Schuster, New York.
About The Author
Diana Clarke has taught job search skills to students in
Silicon Valley. Her career and business articles have appeared
in publications including the San Jose Mercury News, Cupertino
Courier and the Saratoga News.