How to Become an FBI Agent

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So you want to become an FBI agent, but you have no idea what qualifications you’ll need and what the process entails. I can tell you this; it’s not the average hiring process. In fact, it just might be one of the most rigorous hiring processes that are out there. Why’s that, you ask? That’s because, as an FBI agent, you’ll be tasked with investigating crimes at the federal level, enforcing laws, and conducting surveillance activities such as court-authorized wiretapping. Clearly, that sort of responsibility doesn’t lend itself to everyone. So the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) must ensure that candidates are the right people for the job. Thus candidates come under a high level of scrutiny during the process of being hired.

There are a couple of qualifying factors candidates must possess before they can even contemplate applying for the job. Applicants must be a citizen of the U.S or of the Northern Mariana Islands, must be at least 23 years old when applying for the job and must not have turned 37 years old before being formally hired as an agent, must possess a four-year college degree from an accredited institution, must have a valid driver’s license, must not have defaulted on a student loan insured by the U.S. Government, must not have been convicted of a felony, must not have skipped on paying court-ordered child support; must not have failed to file federal, state, or local income tax returns, must not have engaged in terrorists attacks designed to overthrow the U.S. government by force. The FBI does not require applicants to have a specific degree but some degrees carry more weight than others. Degrees in law, engineering, and accounting are considered desirable by the agency. Applicants who do not possess these qualities are automatically disqualified for job employment opportunities with the FBI.

Applicants can apply for the job in one of two ways: They can complete an online application form on the official FBI website or apply directly at the FBI office that’s responsible for their jurisdiction. They’ll be asked to fill out a form with suitability question related to their employment eligibility. Once that’s done the agency will select those candidates who are best suited to the job. Candidates are then required to take a three-hour exam consisting of cognitive, behavioral, and logical reasoning tests, as well as, attend a meet and greet interview. Candidates will then have to take a 90 minute exam and submit themselves to a 1 hour oral panel interview. If the agency expresses a wish to hire them, they’ll be offered a conditional job offer. Upon accepting the offer candidates will have to submit themselves to an intensive physical fitness test.  Candidates will also have to take and pass a psychological evaluation, a drug test, a medical examination, and a polygraph test.

If applicants pass this stage of the hiring process they’ll be sent to the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia to receive training. Training will last about 21 weeks and will include, firearms training, education (on subjects like the law, basic and advanced investigative and intelligence techniques, ethics, forensic science, and interrogation), defensive tactics training, case exercises (in which trainees will be thrown into real life scenarios), and instruction on physical fitness. Trainees who graduate from the training program are instated as FBI agents but will spend the next 18 month gaining hands-on experience working in different specialties within the FBI’s jurisdiction. The duration of this process varies from candidate to candidate and may last 6 months or a couple of years. But once hired, FBI agents will continue to receive training as their careers progress.