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How Can You Become an FBI Agent?

A person's hands in handcuffs

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents enjoy competitive salaries, robust health insurance coverage, excellent retirement benefits, and a certain level of status and prestige, making the job one of the most sought-after law enforcement career options in the United States. While careers in the FBI may be lucrative, there are several important requirements to meet before you can become an agent. Here's a look at some of those requirements and what you can expect from a career protecting Americans as an FBI agent.

What Are the Minimum Requirements to Become an FBI Agent?

As with many positions within the federal government, there are a few minimum requirements to meet before you can land a job as an FBI agent. To even be considered for the role, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 23 and 36
  • Hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Have a valid driver's license

FBI agents must also have at least two years of professional work experience, be able to pass medical and security clearances, and be willing to relocate to new locations around the world if necessary. Additionally, your chances of becoming an agent will improve if you speak at least one foreign language and can pass a language competency test.

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How Does the FBI Hire Agents?

The FBI accepts fewer than 20% of applicants, making jobs within the bureau highly competitive. Applicants typically begin their candidacy through one of the FBI's various entry programs, all of which are tailored to specific FBI career tracks. Whether you're interested in working as an FBI agent in computers and technology, law, accountancy, or another division, you will need to prepare for the testing process once you meet the minimum requirements listed above. These include written tests that assess your basic abilities, knowledge, and competency, as well as rigorous fitness tests and physical requirements.

The FBI's Physical Requirements

FBI fitness standards are tough, making the physical testing process perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to overcome if you pursue a career as an agent. Unless you already have a background in the military, sports, or law enforcement, you should begin cardiovascular and strength training as soon as possible to increase your chances of passing the FBI's physical requirements. Male and female applicants must be able to perform a high minimum number of push-ups and sit-ups within a minute, as well as be able to complete short- and long-distance running challenges.

What Are the Education Requirements of Popular FBI Career Paths?

FBI agents come from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds, and there are a few major career paths within the bureau to select from:

  • Special agent
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Surveillance
  • Forensic accounting
  • Foreign languages

Applicants must have at least a four-year degree from an accredited institution, but they may also have master's degrees or doctoral degrees in disciplines related to their intended career track within the FBI. For example, applicants interested in defending against cyber threats may have an educational background in information technology or cybersecurity management.

Five Career Paths in the FBI

Background Checks

If you are able to meet the basic educational, written, and physical requirements, the next step of the FBI agent vetting and hiring process is being able to pass a background check. This important process includes a credit check, a criminal record assessment, and medical and drug testing.

The FBI may also interview your neighbors, family, friends, and former coworkers to assess your character and to determine whether you're ready for the job and eligible for top-secret security clearance. This background check process may take a long time and is often nerve-wracking and difficult for aspiring FBI agents, so you should approach the process sufficiently prepared.

What Kind of Training Do FBI Agents Receive?

Once you've successfully passed all the basic requirements, tests, and background checks, you will be invited to attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The training program lasts 21 weeks and requires you to live on campus. At the academy, aspiring agents spend several hours each day in the classroom, as well as learning defensive tactics, firearms proficiency and safety, and a variety of other essential special skills, both mental and physical. Throughout your training in Quantico, you will also undergo regular physical and written tests, the failure of which will disqualify you from continuing in the academy and officially becoming an FBI agent.

Start Working Toward Your Career Goals

The FBI hires and trains agents to take on a diverse variety of responsibilities, from thwarting cybersecurity threats and stopping acts of terrorism to investigating financial crimes and intelligence matters. At Tulane School of Professional Advancement, we offer a range of degree programs that can help prepare you for one of the many career tracks within the FBI. Many of our classes are available online, making our programs perfect for working professionals. We also offer support for active military and veteran students, networking opportunities, internships, and access to faculty with years of industry experience. Request information today to learn more about how our degree and certificate programs can help you on your path to becoming an FBI agent.

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