FBI Agent: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an FBI agent. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and agency training requirements to find out if this is the career for you.
An FBI agent works at the federal level, investigating cases and capturing, surveilling, and arresting criminals, which may demand undercover work. FBI agents need a college degree, along with experience in law enforcement. Additional training is provided by the agency after hiring.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hires agents to act as the lead investigators for matters of national security. These workers can be called upon to perform many functions, ranging from field duty to research. FBI agents need previous law enforcement experience, a bachelor's degree and specialized job training. The job can be dangerous and may require travel and unusual work hours.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree, often in criminal justice|
|Other Requirements||Complete FBI training program; meet physical fitness standards|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||4% for all police and detectives|
|Median Salary (2016)**||$63,595|
Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.
FBI agents are authorized to carry firearms and are often called in to perform official busts or capture high profile criminals. Agents may face dangerous situations, work erratic hours and be required to travel extensively. This can include sudden traveling with very little notice and job relocation around the country.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for police and detectives was estimated to increase by 4% from 2014 to 2024. PayScale.com found that in January 2016, FBI agents had a median salary of $63,595.
FBI agents are in charge of investigating over 200 different categories of violations related to national security and federal law. The criminal activity a FBI agent may investigate includes bank robberies, terrorism, corruption, cybercrime, organized crime, espionage and drug trafficking.
FBI agents don't have a typical workday and their job duties can vary greatly depending on their investigation. A FBI agent may be called upon to follow a specific individual or group of people and observe their activities for an extended period of time. FBI agents have to go undercover occasionally, adopting a new persona, and infiltrate a criminal group to discover the nature of their activities. Common duties that FBI agents perform include research, investigation and filling out reports.
FBI agents need to possess a college degree, and many choose to get a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related major. In addition to the educational requirements, a FBI agent must be physically fit and active. Participation in sports or physical education programs allows FBI agents to possess the necessary endurance and speed for this career. While having a foreign language is not necessary, it is looked upon favorably.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that applicants interested in becoming FBI agents need to possess some previous work experience with law enforcement agencies (www.bls.gov). The minimum amount of experience varies based on the education a FBI agent has completed. The more education they have, the less work experience they need. Additionally, after being accepted into this career, FBI agents complete an 18-week training program to properly prepare them for duty.
To become an FBI agent, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field and law enforcement experience. Specialized training is required after hiring. FBI agents work wherever they are sent, so a willingness to travel is essential.