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Things You Need to Know to Be an FBI Agent

by Nancy Wagner, studioD

The challenge, adventure and excitement of becoming an FBI agent is very alluring to some people. Before you start filling in the agency’s job application, however, learn the qualifications and requirements the agency has for potential candidates so you can decide whether becoming an agent is the best career track for you. Once you’re accepted into the agency, you’ll receive lots of training, such as on how to handle a gun and complete field work with the finesse and skills of the best of them.

Minimum Qualifications

All FBI job candidates must be from 23 to 37 years of age. You must also be a U.S. citizen and be available to work in any location in the United States the agency sends you to. An extensive background investigation process is also part of the application process in order to receive FBI security clearance to become an agent.

Education Requirements

You must qualify for one of five special agent entry programs. The choices include accounting, computer science, language, law or a diversified program in any other discipline. All of these programs require a minimum of a four-year degree to apply. Additional education and work experience is also required in some of the fields. For instance, to enter the accounting field, you must be a certified public accountant or have a degree in accounting in addition to having three years of work experience.

Disqualifying for the Agency

If you’ve been convicted of a felony, don’t waste your time applying for the FBI, as you won’t likely get past the background investigation process, a necessity for obtaining the security clearance necessary to be employed at the agency. If you use illegal drugs or fail the FBI’s urinalysis drug test, you’ll also become disqualified. Other disqualifiers include defaulting on your student loan and not registering with the Selective Service System.

Physical Fitness

Special agents need to be physically fit to handle the rigors of their work. The FBI conducts a physical fitness test to determine your level of fitness. For instance, the test counts the maximum number of situps you can do in one minute. They also time you for a 300-meter run and add up the total number of pushups you can do at one time. You must also take a test to determine the time it takes you to run 1.5 miles. The points for each part of the test are then tallied up to see if you meet the minimum requirements in all four events.

Pay Scale

As of 2010, most new FBI agents make from $43,000 to $69,000 annually, starting with their initial training period. Your salary depends on the location in which you work and any pay adjustments for which you qualify, according to Criminal Justice School Info. For instance, the base pay for working in Chicago is multiplied by 25.10 percent if you are assigned there, but, if you end up in Alaska, you multiply 4.72 percent times your base pay to figure out your salary.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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