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What Careers Will Help Me Work for the FBI?

by Mary Bauer, studioD

Thanks to the popularity of television crime dramas, most people equate the FBI with special agents who investigate crimes. However, the FBI offers a wide array of career opportunities in fields as diverse as laboratory science, information technology, linguistics, intelligence analysis and human resources. Prior work experience in related areas will make you more competitive than other candidates applying for FBI positions.

Special Agents

FBI special agents are, above all, investigators. They must acquire, organize and analyze enormous amounts of data. According to the FBI website, a career in accounting or finance may make you more competitive because you will know how to analyze bank transactions and accounting records to identify irregularities. Similarly, prior work in engineering can be beneficial because it gives you experience in analyzing and organizing large volumes of data. Since investigations lead to prosecution, experience in the field of law is especially helpful.

Intelligence Analysts

FBI intelligence analysts support investigations and help identify threats to public security by correlating information tidbits that might appear unrelated or coincidental to a casual observer. Analysts also work with their counterparts in local and international law enforcement, as well as the intelligence community, to share information and ideas regarding the activities of criminals and terrorists. A career in a research-related field, such as academia or a clinical environment, can help you be more competitive in this FBI career path.

Other Career Tracks

A career as a translator, interpreter or foreign language teacher will help you qualify for a position as an FBI linguist. Previous work in a computer-related field would make you more competitive for a position as an IT professional within the FBI. Clinical or laboratory work, such as medical research or experience in an industrial laboratory, can improve your chances of gaining a position in the FBI’s crime laboratory.

Standards, Testing and Disqualifiers

Due to the FBI’s law enforcement mission, job applicants must meet strict behavioral standards. For example, if you have been convicted of a felony or have defaulted on a federally-insured student loan, the FBI will not hire you. You also must meet certain standards regarding past drug use and must pass a urinalysis test for current drug usage. In addition, if you apply for the special agent career track, you must pass visual and hearing acuity tests as well as a very challenging physical fitness test.

About the Author

A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.

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