Cybercrime agents who work for federal law enforcement organizations use their computer skills and special agent training to investigate computer crime. They may investigate attacks or disruptions in computer systems or incidents related to cyber terrorism and child pornography. According to the FBI, new special agents start at the general schedule (GS-10) pay grade.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree; master's degree to improve job prospects|
|Experience||3 years of work experience for admission into special agent training programs may be required|
|Training||10 or 17 weeks of training for Secret Service; 21 weeks of training for FBI|
|Salary||Between $45,770 and $59,505 per year for entry-level special agents|
Source: FBI website
Step 1: Bachelor's Degree
As we stated earlier, a bachelor's degree is a requirement for admission into a special agent training program. While no particular major is required, students may want to consider programs in criminal justice, computer science, or cyber security. While in high school and college, students should develop as many computer skills as possible. High school and college courses in foreign languages are also an asset, since cyberspace is international and investigations can take place in different parts of the world.
Step 2: Internship
Many government organizations offer internships for students and recent graduates who want to explore various job options. The FBI, for example, has two internships: a volunteer program and a salaried honors program for outstanding students. The Secret Service also has a volunteer internship program.
Step 3: Experience
Professional experience in areas such as accounting, computer science, finance, and information technology can broaden a cybercrime agent's knowledge and skills and prepare them to work in the field. Three years of experience may also be necessary for admission into special agent training programs.
Step 4: Special Agent Training
The final step needed to work in cybercrime is to attend the FBI's new agent training program. In the FBI, computer science and information technology is one of their five career paths. Requirements for admission include being a U.S. citizen, physically fit and at least 23 years old. The admissions process is highly selective; upon approval of their online applications, candidates must pass a background check and a series of written tests. They also interview with a group of special agents. The training, held at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, is about 21 weeks. The Secret Service has two training programs for special agents. The 10-week program covers basic criminal investigation, while the 17-week program covers special agents' work.
Step 5: Continuing Education
The FBI offers at least 30 advanced courses in computer technology that can help increase an agent's knowledge and possibly lead to further career options and advancement. Additionally, a master's degree in a relevant field of study can help increase job prospects.
Let's briefly go over what we just talked about. Cybercrime agents need a bachelor's degree and three years of professional experience before they can apply to the FBI's new agent training program. As special agents, they earn between $45,770 and $59,505 a year (GS-10 pay grade).