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Learn What You’ll Do as an FBI Agent FBI agents have a wide range of responsibilities—not least investigating violations against national security.

federal bureau of investigation agent holding binoculars

Career Overview

FBI agents are the government’s principal investigators, responsible for investigating violations of federal law and conducting sensitive national security investigations.

Some of the many areas they investigate within our country’s infrastructure include the following areas:

Organized crimePublic corruption
Financial crimeFraud
BriberyCopyright infringement
Civil rights violationsBank robberies
Air PiracyTerrorism
EspionageDrug trafficking

Special agents may perform these tasks:

  • Conduct surveillance
  • Monitor court-authorized wiretaps
  • Examine business records
  • Investigate white-collar crime
  • Track the movement of stolen property
  • Collect evidence of espionage activities
  • Participate in undercover assignments

Education Requirements

Before you can participate in Quantico training, and undergo the rigorous physical and mental tests that are mandatory for all potential FBI employees, you’ll need to meet the basic education requirements that the FBI demands. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics current Occupational Outlook Handbook notes that the FBI looks for candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Currently, the FBI is seeking applications for candidates who have degrees in one or more of the following areas:

If your goal is to become a special agent in the bureau, you must have a four-year college degree and at least three years of work experience in your major. If you’ve earned a master’s degree, your work experience is reduced to two years in your chosen field.

If your background is in law enforcement, the FBI requires seven to 10 years of experience (besides your degree) in order to be considered competitive.

Foreign language skills are also valuable skills, according to the FBI. The language skills the FBI seek include:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • Dari
  • Hebrew
  • Farsi
  • Albanian
  • Somali
  • Pashto
  • Spanish
  • Tigrinya
  • Urdu

While Spanish is also considered a critical foreign language, you will need to speak and interpret at a high level of proficiency (generally three years or more) in order to be considered.

If you have a degree in political science, criminal justice, or psychology, the FBI will consider your application if you have another critical skill (such as military intelligence) or a post-graduate degree. Make sure you check with your school prior to entering a specialty area, as program outcomes may vary according to each institution’s specific curriculum.

Prerequisites for the Role

FBI education might include experience in law, law enforcement, or the military. All of these will help if you’re interested in working for the law enforcement branch of the FBI. If you’d rather work for the FBI regarding matters related to financial crime or fraud, then experience in the finance sector is necessary.

Candidates must successfully complete written and oral examinations, medical and physical exams, a psychological assessment, and an exhaustive background investigation. Also, candidates must be between 23 and 36 years of age at the time of appointment. You’ll also need to take a lie detector test and the agency will conduct interviews with any references you provide. After you’ve been accepted by the agency, you’ll head to the FBI academy on the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia for 17 weeks.

Because AllCriminalJusticeSchools.com is not affiliated with any local, state or federal agency, you should be sure to check with your local FBI field office to see if the program you’re interested in has any other specific requirements or restrictions.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor and Industries 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Police and Detectives; fbi.gov.