If you have a desire to become a DEA agent, know that the job carries with it many challenges and risks. You’ll be out in the field trying to take down drug trafficking organizations. Some of these organizations are actually terrorist groups that use the drug trade to finance their activities. Understandably, there’s bound to be some resistance and DEA agents will sometimes find themselves in the cross hairs of those individuals operating within the drug trade. That’s a risk you’ll have to take every single day. Still certain you want to go down that path? Well, then, let’s look at how you can become a DEA agent.
The hiring process for DEA agents may take about a year or longer to complete. Any aspiring DEA agent must first meet the requirements set by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) if they are to be considered eligible for the job. The DEA requires applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree with a GPA no lower than 2.95. The DEA prefers applicants who possess degrees in criminology, sociology and any other related degree in a field that’s relevant to the job of a DEA agent.
The DEA does, however, consider applicants who do not meet the aforementioned criteria. Those who do have a bachelor’s degree with a GPA that’s lower than the minimum requirement, but who possesses specialized experience in a field such as accounting, auditing, foreign languages, and other areas are also considered eligible for the job. The same can be said for applicants who possess law enforcement experience in undercover work, surveillance operations, drug/narcotics related operations, or evidence collection.
There are other requirements for applicants as well. The DEA applicant must:
- Be between the ages of 21 and 36 (must not turn 37 before being appointed)
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Own a valid driver’s license
- Be able to lift at least 45 pounds
- Have 20/20 vision in one eye and at least 20/40 vision in the other
- Have sharp hearing
- Not be color blind
If you meet these requirements then you’re ready to apply for the position.
The Hiring Process
When the hiring department reviews applications they’ll choose suitable applicants and then request that they attend an interview. After the interview, applicants will have to undergo a series of test all of which are designed to assess an applicant’s suitability to the job. Applicants are required to take and pass:
- Medical examination
- Physical fitness test
- Drug test
- Psychological evaluation
- Witness assessment
- Polygraph test
The agency will also conduct a thorough background check into its potential hires to determine their character and to confirm the validity of the information given by applicants. During the course of the background check, the agency will conduct interviews with friends, family members, and employers of applicants. The agency will also access their public records during this time.
Those applicants who pass this stage of the hiring process are invited to receive basic agent training at the DEA training academy at Quantico, VA. The training takes about 18 weeks to complete and covers defensive tactics training, practical exercises, tactics and intelligence, physical conditioning, and firearms training. Applicants who graduate from the academy are officially appointed as DEA special agents and are sent to a DEA office where they’ll receive their first assignment.