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FBI Careers for Veterans

Aug 31, 2017

For veterans who are interested in making a career change but still putting their military skills to good use, they may want to consider beginning a fulfilling career with the FBI.

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After a career in the military, a veteran may be interested in continuing to serve their country in a different way by pursuing a career with the FBI. Depending on the specific job they performed in the military, they may be able to easily transition into a similar role in the FBI or they may want to put their general skills and training to good use by serving the FBI in whatever way they can. Veterans who apply for jobs at the FBI are also eligible to receive Veterans' Preference, which is granted to veterans who have served in specific military campaigns and are applying for jobs in the executive branch. We will discuss five possible FBI careers for veterans in greater detail below.

Career Comparison

Job Title Median Salary (2016) Job Growth*** Applicable Military Skills/Traits
Special Agent $43,441 -$129,517* 4% (for all police and detectives) Physical fitness, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership
Intelligence Analyst $33,979-$129,517* 4% (for all police and detectives) Analytical thinking, logical reasoning, research
Forensic Accountant $32,312-$81,309** 11% (for all accountants and auditors) Analytical skills, communication skills, accounting, collaboration
Surveillance Specialist $33,979-$78,355* 4% (for all police and detectives) Patience, attention to detail, observational skills, photography
FBI Linguists $33,000-$78,000* 29% (for all interpreters and translators) Communication skills, foreign language ability

Source: *FBI Website, **PayScale, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Relevance to Military Background

Because both the branches of the military and the FBI are involved in protecting the American people and their interests through means like surveillance, special operations, and investigative missions, there is a lot of overlap between careers in the military and the FBI. Regardless of the specific career a veteran pursues in the FBI, it is highly likely that valuable leadership and critical thinking skills that they learned in the military can be applied to a variety of careers in the FBI.

Special Agent

As a special agent, the different duties you are responsible for and your daily tasks vary widely. You may be heavily involved in a criminal investigation that requires a lot of research, critical thinking, and collaboration with colleagues. You could be a member of a covert sting operation or be requested to testify in court during a trial. Special agents must possess a number of skills, many of which a veteran is likely to have developed during their time in the military. Joining the FBI also requires a high level of physical fitness, similar to a level necessary to join the military. Veterans who participated in highly specialized task forces while in the military could also be interested in joining specialized FBI groups, like the SWAT team, Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), or the Special Agent Bomb Tech Program (SABT).

Intelligence Analyst

An intelligence analyst is responsible for analyzing information in order to discern whether a threat is present and if action needs to be taken. They may be assigned to a specific case or topic and spend their time researching it heavily in order to gain a clear understanding in case they need to help develop strategies or provide other FBI members with information. Many of these professionals are trained in other languages and cultures in order to be able to analyze information in the proper context. In all branches of the military, there are members who also work in the intelligence community, meaning that a veteran who performed a similar role in the military may be able to transfer these skills to a job as an FBI intelligence analyst.

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants are a sort of financial investigator, spending much of their time tracking criminal activity in order to trace and track their flow of money. They often work on a team with other accountants and collaborate with Special Agents during their investigations. Some careers in the military also involve accounting and finance. For veterans who also have achieved a bachelor's degree in accounting, along with their CPA certification, they could qualify for a job as an FBI Forensic Accountant.

Surveillance Specialist

Surveillance specialists in the FBI are responsible for conducting surveillance missions in order to gather information on possible threats to the country. Some of their duties include working in various field settings, taking observations and keeping records of events through photography, and sharing their observations with their team at the FBI. They may work as Investigative Specialists, which involves watching mobile targets, or as Surveillance Specialists, which involves fixed surveillance. For veterans, some of these duties may be similar to what they did in the military, as the military also conducts surveillance missions internationally.

FBI Linguists

FBI linguists all begin their careers with the FBI as contract linguists, which is an hourly position, before gaining the possibility of becoming a full-time FBI linguist. These professionals use their skills in foreign languages to provide translation and interpretation services, as well as culture lessons to other FBI agents. To initially gain a job as a contractor, you will need to pass a test to prove your language proficiency. Some veterans may have worked as translators and interpreters in the military, in which case they could use the skills they honed there to transition to a job as an FBI linguist.

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