FBI Agent: Career Requirements and Training Facts

The primary goal of the FBI is to protect Americans, and FBI agents are required to have certain skills, experience, and education to support this mission. Read on to find out if you have what it takes to become an FBI agent. Learn about the FBI's entrance standards, including age and education requirements. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), your role will be to protect the United States and its citizens against terrorism, espionage, computer attacks, public corruption and organized crime. Due to the highly secure nature of the job, you will be subjected to a background check that includes a criminal and drug history, as well as a personal reference check that includes interviews with friends, colleagues and neighbors. You will have to be eligible to gain security clearance, pass a fitness test and be available for travel.

Education A bachelor's degree from a US-accredited college or university is required by the FBI
Other Requirements At least 3 years of full-time professional work experience is required for FBI agents
Median Salary (2017)* $79,970 (all detectives and criminal investigators)
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026)* 5% (all detectives and criminal investigators)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does It Take to Be an FBI Agent?

The FBI accepts applicants between the ages of 23 and 37, but sometimes make special exceptions. You must have a bachelor's degree in order to be eligible for any position. In addition, you must have three years of professional work experience. New Agents in Training (NAT) will complete curriculum that lasts 21 weeks. During training, you will live on campus and study both investigative and academic subjects. Training locations can vary. You will also partake in intensive physical fitness exercises and tests, which can cover the use of firearms and defensive tactics. In addition to the coursework, you'll be assessed in the following areas:

  • Emotional Maturity
  • Teamwork
  • Judgement
  • Integrity
  • Diligence
  • Self-Motivation

What Degrees Will Make Me Competitive?

The FBI doesn't recommend one degree over another, although you can enter into the FBI under one of several specialties. Those areas are given priority based on the changing needs of the agency. A bachelor's degree in one of the following areas can make you more competitive:

  • Accounting
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Physical Science
  • Law
  • Architecture
  • Foreign Language

If you have a degree in language, you will have to pass a written and oral exam. You can also apply to the entry area of law with a Juris Doctor (J.D.).

What if I Have a Degree in Another Area?

The FBI offers a range of opportunities across multiple disciplines. You can apply if you have a degree or experience that focuses on a particular need of the agency. For example, if you have a degree in biology, aerospace, chemistry, network engineering, geology, or any other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) discipline, there are opportunities to work for the FBI. STEM professionals work in the Information Technology branch, as well as in the Operational Technology, Laboratory, and Criminal Justice Information Services divisions of the FBI. There are also opportunities for those with degrees as diverse as art (photographer and visual information specialist positions) and counseling (mental health assessment specialist positions).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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