FBI special agents are generally paid under the federal general service pay scale established by the Office of Personnel Management. While they enter the FBI Academy as special agent cadets at a GS-10 level, they are eligible to be promoted as high as the GS-13 level as field agents. When agents transition into supervisory roles, they attain levels such as GS-14, GS-15 or Senior Executive Service status.
When FBI agents both enter the academy and graduate and enter service as special agents, they carry a GS-10 designation. As of the 2013 federal pay tables, which remain frozen at 2010 levels, a GS-10 law enforcement officer earns $47,297 per year in basic pay. He also enjoys eligibility for federal benefits.
FBI special agent pay is adjusted in two additional ways. First, the federal government adjusts pay based on where an agent works. Higher-cost areas like San Francisco or New York City receive a greater "locality" pay adjustment than lower-cost areas like Columbus, Ohio. Second, since FBI agents are generally expected to work more than 40 hours per week -- the FBI estimates 50 -- they also receive a 25 percent availability pay bonus to compensate them for the extra time. If an FBI agent who graduates from the FBI academy is sent to the Sacramento office, she is eligible for the standard base pay of $47,297 per year. The 22.2 percent adjustment for working in Sacramento increases her base pay to $57,797 per year. The 25 percent availability adjustment is added to give her a total annual salary of $72,246.
Special Agent Promotions
Special agents are also eligible to be promoted to higher grades like GS-11, GS-12 or GS-13. You must have at least one year of service in a grade to be eligible to go up a grade. For an FBI agent in a part of the country that just receives the basic 14.16 percent locality payment, going from GS-10 to 11 increases salary from $53,994 to $57,408, while going from GS-11 to 12 carries a raise from $57,408 to $68,809. The step from GS-12 to GS-13 increases pay from $68,809 to $81,823, as of 2013. These salaries do not include the additional 25 percent availability adjustment.
FBI special agents can advance beyond the GS-13 grade by moving into supervisory positions. A GS-14 agent's base pay in an area of the U.S. with a 14.16 percent adjustment is $96,690, while a GS-15 employee's base is $113,735. Employees who are promoted into the senior executive service earn at least $119,554 in unadjusted basic pay.
Even without a promotion, FBI agents can still receive raises. Each GS pay grade also has 10 steps. Special agents who aren't promoted can still go from pay step to pay step as long as their performance rating indicates that they are "fully successful." Workers can go between steps one and four at a rate of one step per year, between steps four and seven at a rate of one step every two years, and between steps seven and ten at a rate of one step every three years. Leaving locality and availability pay aside, each step advancement at the GS-10 level is worth $1,526 in annual salary. GS-11 steps are each worth $1,627, while a GS-12 step increase is $2,009. GS-13 special agents receive an additional $2,390 per year. Supervising GS-14 and GS-15 agents receive $2,822 and $3,321 per step, respectively.
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