The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are government employees who specialize in “conducting sensitive national security investigations and for enforcing over 300 federal statutes”. 1 The demanding work of an FBI agent will be challenging, exciting, and rewarding as employed FBI special agents serve their country every day. FBI agent’s case work varies from foreign counterintelligence, terrorism, cyber crime, organized crime, civil rights violations, air piracy, and other important fields within our justice system. If you have been looking for a career that serves your country and the pay is sufficient, then a criminal justice career as a FBI special agent is truly a vocation you could be proud to be a part of.
To accurately assess your personal compatibility with becoming a FBI agent this page will assist you in becoming familiar with job duties, potential salary and benefits, and we’ll briefly cover the how to’s associated with becoming a FBI special agent.
FBI Agent Job Duties
The everyday life of a FBI special agent is unpredictable. Each day is different, resulting in different tasks such as:
- Testifying for a case in court
- Running background checks
- Meeting with other FBI agents
- Meeting with information leads
- Making arrests
- Issuing search warrants
- Gathering evidence from a crime
- Filing paperwork about a case
You may have an entirely different set of tasks to cover for an investigation you are working on, but those responsibilities should all come up at some point in time. Most FBI agents work odd hours to gather evidence and connect clues in an investigation. Thus, this is not the job, career choice, for any individual looking for a 9-5 job that is predictable and monotonous.
FBI Agent Salary Levels and Benefits
FBI Special Agent Salary:
FBI special agents salary is dependent upon title, job responsibilities, location, expertise, experience (time on the job) and other qualifiers. FBI trainees who are currently enrolled in the FBI academy receive an annual income around $43,441, 2 however this annual income may vary from state to state depending on the associated costs of living.
Newly assigned FBI agents receive a similar annual income in comparison with FBI trainees of $43,441, however newly assigned agents salary also includes an increase of locality pay and availability pay ranging from 12.5% to 28.7% 2 of their base salary dependent upon the labor market of their state, or city in which the FBI agent is assigned (these states or cities would be considered “high-cost offices” where the agent is designated to work).
The FBI employee is similar to other governmental positions and salary increase. As an individual qualifies for promotions, their years of experience increase, knowledge and critical skills are enhanced, live in a high-cost office area, overtime payment, and/or job duties become more dangerous a FBI agent may receive an annual salary up to $143,000. 3
FBI Special Agent Benefits:
The provided benefits 4 for an FBI special agent are:
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Education and Training Programs
- Work-Life Programs
- Justice Employees’ Transit Subsidy (if they use public transportation)
- FBI Recreation Association
How to Become a FBI Agent
If the previous information has sufficiently enticed you to look further at a career as a FBI agent then let’s look further into the qualifications of becoming a FBI special agent. 5
The opportunity to become a FBI agent is subject to an individual’s age, education, and work experience. In order to be considered, unless a person receives an age waiver, the individual applying must be at least 23, but not older than 37. 5
An applicant must have earned at least a four-year degree from an accredited college or university which has received its accreditation from a national or regional institution recognized by the United States Secretary of Education. Four-year degrees that will more likely influence and increase your chances in becoming an FBI agent are Accounting, Computer Science/Information Technology, Language, and Law. Other degrees emphasized for critical skills an applicant may exude is knowledge in Finance, Engineering expertise, or Physical Science. 5
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also requires that all their applicants at least have 3 years of professional work experience. They expect applicants to be able to prove they have a valid driver’s license, and that they are able to relocate to any office they are designated to work in.
If a Special Agent applicant has passed the exams, background investigation, and has been successfully appointed into a New Agents Class, 6 special agents are then assigned to one of five career paths: Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Criminal, Counterterrorism, or Cyber.
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- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Special Agents…becoming one of America’s finest. 28 January 2013. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justic . https://www.fbijobs.gov/11.asp
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Special Agent Frequently asked questions. 28 January 2013. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.fbijobs.gov/114.asp
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Salary Table 2006-GS. Effective date: January 2006. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice. http://archive.opm.gov/oca/06tables/pdf/saltbl.pdf
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Benefits at the FBI. 28 January 2013. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice . https://www.fbijobs.gov/33.asp
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Special Agent Qualification Requirements. 28 January 2013. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.fbijobs.gov/111.asp
- Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Citing Websites.” Special Agent Career Path Program. 28 January 2013. U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.fbijobs.gov/113.asp
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