FBI Profiler: Requirements, Job Description & Salary

FBI profilers are expert analysts of the criminal mind. The outline below explores the educational requirements, job skills and potential pay in this unique profession. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

FBI profilers, also called behavioral analysts, are law enforcement officials who specialize in forming theories to build profiles of unidentified criminals at large, especially serial killers. Profilers may predict the age range, sex, race, marital status and occupation of an unknown predator, helping police to narrow their search for a suspect. This chart shows the requirements, job skills and salaries of FBI professionals, including profilers:

Educational Requirements 4-year bachelor's degree
Training Requirements FBI Academy; BAU training
Job Requirements 10 years of relevant experience; pass physical fitness and medical exams
Job Skills Expert understanding of criminal behavior, excellent analytical and communications skills
Job Growth (2016-26) 7% (for all police and detectives)*
Salary (2018) $48,297 to $62,787 at GS-10 pay grade**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **FederalPay.org

What Does the Job Entail?

FBI profilers work in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), studying evidence obtained by police in an effort to build theoretical profiles of serial criminals. Profilers develop psychological and real-world portraits of likely suspects to assist in directing investigative efforts. They may also consult with law enforcement officials nationwide to help solve crimes, sometimes offering advice on how to lure serial criminals out of hiding or how to attempt to communicate with them.

What Are the Requirements?

To become a special agent for the FBI, you must normally be a U.S. citizen with a four-year college degree, be between 23 and 37 years old, and have a valid driver's license and three years' professional experience (which can include law enforcement or be in areas ranging from accounting to computer science). Common education fields of study include criminal justice, psychology and law, and successful candidates usually have broad experience in law enforcement. In addition to these general FBI agent requirements, a position in the Behavioral Analysis Unit often requires 10 years of related experience.

What Job Skills Are Needed?

Profilers must be adept at analyzing evidence and interviewing witnesses to gain a comprehensive understanding of the crimes committed, and they will need to conduct research on criminal behavior and stay abreast of current investigative strategies. FBI profilers often train other special agents in behavioral analysis, and their job may involve frequent travel and consultation with other branches of law enforcement.

How Much Do Profilers Earn?

All FBI special agents start at the federal government's GS-10 pay grade, in which 2018 salaries ranged from $48,297 to $62,787. Supervisors may be in the GS-15 pay grade, earning $105,123 to $136,659. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics offers statistics on all police and detectives in general, who earned a median salary of $62,960 in 2017.

What Is the History of this Profession?

John E. Douglas, coauthor of Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (1995), is a key founder of modern criminal profiling. An early member of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, Douglas developed protocols for criminal profiling and interviewed hundreds of imprisoned serial killers to better understand their motives and methods. The profiles developed by Douglas and his colleagues in several high-profile cases turned out to be correct. Douglas is the inspiration for the character John Crawford in the book and film The Silence of the Lambs, which greatly popularized a little-known profession.

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