What Do FBI Agents Do? - Job Description & Salary

Find out what FBI agents do and how to become one. Discover their job duties, education requirements, training and salary to determine if you'd be a good fit for this career. Schools offering Criminal Justice & Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

FBI agents conduct investigations into crimes at the national level and enforce federal statutes. Applicants to the FBI training program must have a nearly spotless personal history, hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and be physically fit. Below you'll find a chart with a brief overview of the job.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Training Required Training at the FBI Academy
Key Skills Physical fitness, high moral character, perseverance
Median Salary (2019) $64,629*
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 5%** (for all police and detectives)

Source: *PayScale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do FBI Agents Do?

We've all seen FBI agents depicted in movies and TV shows, but what do they actually do on a daily basis? Well, there's no typical day for an agent in the FBI. One day they might be out gathering physical evidence for a case and the next they're in court testifying or arresting a suspect. They might divide some of their time interviewing witnesses, conferring with other agents or keeping paperwork up to date. FBI agents are on call all the time, including nights, weekends and holidays, and they can be transferred anywhere at any time.

What Skills Do FBI Agents Possess?

FBI agents help uphold the U.S. Constitution, deal with terrorists and help bring down criminal organizations. These are lofty duties and they require uncommon skills and fortitude to carry out. That's why FBI agents are held to a higher standard. They must be physically fit, mentally strong and able to use their powers responsibly to protect the public from a wide range of threats.

What Are the Requirements to Become an FBI Agent?

The requirements for becoming an FBI agent are quite rigorous. First, you'll need to meet the basic requirements to work at the FBI in any capacity: be a U.S. Citizen, gain Top Secret SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance and comply with the drug policy. To apply to be an agent, you need to be between age 23 and 36. You'll have to have a bachelor's degree and a minimum of two years in the workforce, and you'll be asked to pass a strict physical fitness test.

What Training is Required?

Recruits are sent to the FBI Academy for over 800 hours of intense training. Agent trainees do tough physical training outside, but they also apply their minds in the classroom, studying ethics, investigative techniques, forensic science and the fundamentals of U.S. law. Trainees also undergo firearms and operational training to learn how to handcuff suspects, make arrests, conduct surveillance and do undercover work.

How Much Do FBI Agents Make?

According to PayScale.com, the median salary for FBI agents in 2019 was $64,629. This salary can vary based on experience. For instance, entry-level FBI agents earned a median salary of $51,518 per year, while agents with more experience had a median salary of $88,599 at that same time.

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