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US Drug Enforcement Administrator Job Information

Learn what kind of education and training is required for a career with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Get the details about career prospects and earning potential to see if this field is right for you.

Career Definition for a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration employees are charged with enforcing the regulations and laws relating to both legal and illegal drugs. Members of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conduct surveillance of suspected criminals, carry out criminal investigations, and work undercover to gain access to illegal drug organizations. They also investigate money laundering schemes, confiscate illegal drugs, investigate the unauthorized or illegal appropriation and distribution of prescription drugs, collect evidence, and testify in court.

Education Bachelor's degree or relevant professional experience
Job Skills Clear writing skills, factual analysis, heavy lifting, great physical conditioning
Salary (2019) $92,592 for agents with experience
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 7% for all police and detectives

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, DEA.gov

Required Education

Individuals should have completed a bachelor's degree or have comparable relevant professional experience. Preference is given to candidates with degrees in criminal justice, political science, finance or accounting, computer science, psychology, sociology, chemistry, and certain foreign languages. It typically takes four years to complete a bachelor's degree in these fields.

Skills Needed

Skills you'll need to be effective as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration employee include the ability to communicate clearly in writing, analyze facts, and reach conclusions. People looking to work in Drug Enforcement Administration should be in good physical condition with good hearing, good or adequately corrected vision, normal color vision, and the ability to lift heavy objects.

Economic and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions for police and detectives will grow by 7% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov). The U.S. Department of Justice reported that the starting salary for a U.S. DEA Special Agent was $49,746; for those with more education and experience the starting salary was about $55,483. After four years as a Special Agent, applicants may advance to a higher grade and such as administrator positions and earn about $92,592 or more..

Alternative Career Options

Consider these other careers for a future in law enforcement:

Correctional Officers

Correctional officers work in prisons or jails, providing supervision to alleged criminals awaiting trial and convicted criminals serving their sentences. They also enforce the rules of the facility, search inmates and their cells, and transport inmates as required. Correctional officer training academies usually require applicants to be at least 18 or 21 years old and have a high school diploma; some also require at least some college or law enforcement experience. New corrections officers also receive on-the-job training. The BLS reports that jobs for correctional officers are predicted to decrease by 7% from 2016-2026, and that this occupation paid a median salary of $43,540 in 2017.

Security Guard

A security guard is responsible for protecting property from crime. Security guards perform indoor and outdoor patrols and monitor access to facilities both physically and through video camera systems, taking action when needed and keeping activity logs as required. Employers may consider candidates with a high school diploma, or an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in a relevant field. A driver's license may also be required. On-the-job training is common, and states often require security guards to be registered. Additional licensing and registration requirements may apply to armed security guards. The number of jobs for security guards are predicted to increase 6% from 2016-2026, per the BLS. Security guards earned median pay of $26,900 in 2017, according to the BLS.


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