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How Can I Get a Job with the FBI?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is an investigative agency in the United States of America that focuses on terrorism and serious crimes within the US borders. There are a wide range of career possibilities with the FBI, and a career with the agency can be immensely satisfying and rewarding for people who qualify. Many people want to work for the FBI, but the agency is only able to hire a small number of people each year. A college degree is required, and a strong background in one of the areas in demand by the agency can give you a head start in the application process.

Getting a job with the FBI starts young. Start by excelling in high school and participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. These skills will stand you in good stead when you apply for college. The FBI requires a four year degree for all its applicants, although the degree can be in any field that you want.

After college, plan on working for a minimum of three years, establishing yourself as a self directed, motivated, and committed individual. After you have fulfilled these requirements, you can start the process which may lead to your employment with the FBI. The more education and work experience you have, the better your job prospects will be.

Employment with the FBI falls into several categories. Most people are familiar with special agents, who work in one of five programs: accounting, computer science/information technology, law, language, or “diversified.” The staff of the FBI also includes many support personnel, ranging from hostage negotiators to data analysts. If you work for the FBI, you may find yourself working in counterterrorism, cybercrimes, criminal investigation, or intelligence divisions. Before you start applying, think about your strengths and weaknesses and where you might best fit in.

In order to become a special agent, you must be a US citizen or citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands between 23 and 37 years of age. In addition to a four year degree, you should have a valid driver's license and be prepared to pass a physical examination and a background check. The FBI also has a no tolerance drug policy, and you will be regularly tested for traces of illegal substances. Employees must also be prepared for station reassignment, which may involve moving across the country for work. If you want to work for the FBI in another capacity, check the individual recruitment requirements available on the FBI's website.

Previous law enforcement experience is not required to get a job with the FBI, but it is certainly helpful, as are advanced degrees. Since the agency is a highly competitive employer, it can afford to be very particular about new hires. You may want to consider contacting an FBI recruitment representative in your area to get more information about jobs, as standards can change unexpectedly with the changing political climate. The FBI always has a shortlist of vitally needed skill sets, and if you have skills on that list, you can greatly increase your chance of employment with the organization.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon992992 — On Oct 16, 2015

I screwed up in my high school days academically and got into a little trouble with the law. Nothing more than a misdemeanor for some pot when I was 21. Got my crap together, got a bachelors degree in Psychology and have a 3.86 GPA. I would like to work for the FBI in the Natural Science DEPT as a Criminal Profiler. Possible?

By anon948025 — On Apr 28, 2014

I am a 12 year old girl who lives in England. I've always wanted to be an FBI agent and I'm getting to the age where I need to start thinking about my future, so I want to find out about this a bit more. So can anyone give me tips or information?

By anon322702 — On Feb 28, 2013

I would like to point out that you do not need a degree for the majority of jobs in the FBI. I work for them, don't have a degree and work with several people who don't have degrees. That being said, a degree does help.

By anon318708 — On Feb 08, 2013

Very few special agents would not say that this job is phenomenal. And those who do were probably sub-standard and told so by others, so now they harbor some sort of grudge. I heard all kinds of things before becoming an agent, and hardly any of it was true. The guys I work with are some of the funniest dudes I've met. People take their jobs very seriously, but to describe agents as automatons without personalities is completely false.

If you aren't happy as an agent in the FBI, then it is your fault. There are so many ways to move into a position that you would enjoy (tech agents conducting surreptitious entries; working abroad in a LEGAT; being trained in undercover operations; SWAT/HRT; working on a public corruption, CT, CI, violent crime, white collar, etc squad; TDY and training opportunities, etc.).

The Bureau loves excellence, so whatever your academic or job experiences are, you should excel. There is no magic route to become an agent. Language, advanced degrees, law, CPA, military, police are all great ways to stand out.

Bottom line: it is difficult to get in, but it is the best job and most rewarding career a person could have.

By anon312925 — On Jan 09, 2013

What does a clerk in the FBI do? Are they involved in undercover action? Or do they just work at a desk?

By nb97 — On Sep 12, 2012

I am currently 15 and a ninth grader in high school. I run track, kick box, play tennis, and soccer. I speak Hebrew and French and I am learning Spanish. I plan to get an undergrad in criminal justice and then get a law degree. When I get out of college, I plan to join the police academy and work on the force for three years. Does this count as professional experience?

By anon283201 — On Aug 02, 2012

Actually, I'm from Paraguay (located in South America, for those who don't know), and actually want to work with them. I'm 16 years old and I'm planning to go to the United States of America, but first I want to graduate from college, where I want to study to be an agent of CIA or FBI, because they have intelligence to end the evil and criminals in my country.

I want to clean out and fight against a terrorist group called EPP (Spanish: Ejercito del pueblo paraguayo; English: People's army from Paraguay). It's the main trouble in our country, and they are in hiding from the justice of Paraguay. I want to end the corruption that helps them and the other one called FARC.

By anon278445 — On Jul 06, 2012

I'm from central Asia. I speak English fluently. I graduated from the university, so how many years do I have to live in America in order to work for FBI?

By anon275259 — On Jun 17, 2012

I have always been interested in a position as an agent. I have a diverse background in education, work,personal experience and volunteerism. I am engaged and my fiance is a lieutenant for a police department. We are not relocating. If candidates are not single and spouses are not in a position to give up their careers, are there any options to stay local?

By anon250461 — On Feb 26, 2012

If you want to be FBI, block out the negatives on how difficult it is to become one and just go for it. Learn different languages, be a citizen, study hard, never get arrested, don't do or have any connection with anyone that does drugs, and get ready to see life from an agent's perspective.

By anon226121 — On Oct 30, 2011

Trust me: you do not want to work for the FBI. I worked for the FBI in Los Angeles as a clerk for two years and I worked in the garage and drove the cars the agents drive and you wouldn't believe how much they smoke. Not to mention how high the divorce rate is.

My brother in law was an FBI agent for 35 years in San Francisco and I went to parties at his house and a lot of agents came there and they weren't normal individuals.

Even when my brother in law was in the academy, his roommate got a DUI and instead of letting him go, they gave him the El Paso office as a punishment.

By anon162539 — On Mar 24, 2011

I live in Australia, and we have a different education system. what type of job does it mean by professional(not in a mall)?

By anon146163 — On Jan 25, 2011

Do you have to be a natural born citizen of the United States?

By anon131792 — On Dec 03, 2010

Look. I slacked off in high school (had a 1.4 GPA), spent a few years in the military, worked as an EMT and didn't finish college and eventually turned down a job with the FBI for a different position within the government. The article above is crap. Don't waste your time reading about what someone else thinks might be required for an FBI position. go and talk to someone that actually works for the fbi.

It was intimidating at first, but it doesn't take long to find out they are people too -- people who started out just like anyone else that wants a job with the fbi. Just have a general understanding of the agency, what they do, and have a few prepared questions (not too many because you will easily get off track once you find out it's not what you see on tv). Best of luck to all who want to go that route.

By anon129491 — On Nov 23, 2010

I don't know who wrote this- but they clearly do not work for the FBI, nor are they even anywhere close on a lot of the qualifications. To be an agent, a degree is required, as is experience. Some of the support positions do not require a college degree. The analytical positions often hire straight out of college and do not require additional experience as that is gained during training. If you really want to work for the FBI go online and do some research there. Do not rely on the information given here.

By olemiss9 — On Nov 20, 2010

I'll be majoring in forensic science. I start college next year. I want to work for the FBI after I'm out of college. Will a forensic science degree help me get a job there.

By anon126463 — On Nov 12, 2010

do you have to be 23 years old to be a worker on the fbi, like staff?

By anon125247 — On Nov 08, 2010

So you're saying if i am a special agent i have to relocate and never come back to my old home again. And how many times do they relocate you?

By anon121755 — On Oct 25, 2010

The FBI recruits the best; it has to be above a 3.0 GPA, no drug use whatsoever in the last 12 months of application.

Police work as in patrol does not count as professional experience. You need a bachelor's in any academic plus three years of professional experience (working at mall does not count). Criminal Justice and Psychology are good degrees. But you must be willing to relocate any where in the U.S.

Furthermore, you would be starting out in staff support. A Special Agent requires more experience in investigations.

By anon118507 — On Oct 14, 2010

What do your grades have to be like?

By anon117128 — On Oct 09, 2010

how can I join the fbi? I have an inspector-quality personality. there is no doubt the fbi fascinates me so much that I am interested in joining the fbi. --Imran.

By anon110658 — On Sep 12, 2010

I have a BS in architecture and have always been fascinated with the FBI because my brother is a private investigator. What extra steps would I have to take to get a job with the FBI? I'd really be interested in undercover/reconnaissance work of some sort.

By anon74888 — On Apr 04, 2010

if i am in a security detail in the marine corps with a CAT 2 TS clearance, what would it take to get a job?

By anon58986 — On Jan 05, 2010

To anon37086: Yes, Army MP do police work so it can better your chances. Also, Military Intelligence looks good, but don't think these are the only options. Anything in the military is good as it shows you have experience. Also, if you do your local police or state police it looks good as well.

To makeda: I believe it was mentioned in this article that you can major in what ever you like. But(and this is just personal preference) International Affairs a.k.a. International Relations (which is not a business class as some people have asked me) is a good major if you're interested in it because it talks a lot about what's going on. Again you do not have to pick this major. You can choose to major in anything you would like to study.

Hope this helps!

By anon58412 — On Jan 01, 2010

go to state police for undercover work.

By anon37086 — On Jul 16, 2009

would the fbi take somone who has been in a detox facility?

By anon30144 — On Apr 14, 2009

Would being an army MP help your chances at getting into the FBI or any government agency? Or could it hurt your chances?

By makeda — On Aug 16, 2007

I would like to know what would be the best to major in if I want to be an Undercover FBI agent? also is the FBI the best spot for Undercover Work???

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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