How to Become an FBI Agent

If you are considering a career in law enforcement, you may be wondering how to become an FBI agent. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents investigate crimes involving violations of federal law and threats to national security. Agents can legally carry firearms and may be involved in field work, arresting high-profile criminals or conducting research.

This type of work will be a good fit for people who can stay calm and focus in stressful and/or dangerous situations. The hours of work can be erratic, and travel may be required. Some agents are required to relocate to work in a specific field office once they are hired by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Basic Qualifications to Become an FBI Agent

To be considered for a position as an FBI agent, you must meet the following basic qualifications:

• Citizen of the United States or the Northern Mariana Islands
• Between 23-36 years of age
• Hold a valid driver’s license
• Physically fit and healthy
• Never been convicted of a felony

Applicants must pass a drug test and never defaulted on a U.S. government-insured student loan. Prospective agents must be able to work anywhere in the world.

FBI Agent Entry Programs

The FBI has five entry areas when recruiting new special agents:

• Accounting
• Computer Science/Information Technology
• Language
• Law
• Diversified

To qualify for employment under the Accounting program, you must hold a four-year degree in Accounting and have completed three years of work for an accounting firm or in the public sector. Certified CPAs can also apply under this entry area.

Candidates who are applying under the Computer Science/Information Technology program must have one of the following qualifications:

Computer/Information Technology degree
Electrical Engineering degree
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) certification

Applicants who hold CCNP or CCIE certification must also hold a BA or BS degree in any area of study.

Language Program applicants must hold an undergraduate degree (BA or BS) as well as be proficient in a critical foreign language, such as:

• Arabic
• Chinese
• Farsi
• Hebrew
• Hindi
• Japanese
• Korean
• Pashtu
• Punjabi
• Russian
• Spanish
• Urdu
• Vietnamese

Graduates from a JD program offered by an accredited law school can apply to the Bureau under its Law Entry Program.

The Diversified Program is open to graduates of a BA or BS degree program in any area of study who have three years of work experience. Graduates from a Master’s degree program must have two years of full-time work experience before applying.

Security Clearance to Become an FBI Agent

Since FBI agents work on highly sensitive cases, they must obtain a top secret clearance from the Bureau. To obtain the clearance, a candidate must pass a background investigation, which includes a drug test, credit check and a polygraph exam.

Initial Training for the Federal Bureau of Investigations

If you pass the background check, the next step is to complete 22 weeks of physical and mental training. Passing this training is an important part of the process to become an FBI agent.

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