The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a national security organization that serves as the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice. The FBI has both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities; therefore, it is responsible for investigating specific crimes and gathering, sharing and analyzing intelligence.
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The FBI’s headquarters are located in Washington D.C., although this national security organization also has 56 field offices and 380 resident agencies located throughout the country. There are also more than 60 liaison offices located in countries around the world. As of 2013, there were more than 35,000 personnel working in the FBI, including 13,598 special agents.
The mission of the FBI is to protect the nation against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and provide leadership to any number of criminal justice agencies and partners. The investigative authority of the FBI is considered to be the broadest of all federal law enforcement agencies. In fact, federal law gives the FBI the authority to investigate federal crimes that are exclusively assigned to another federal agency. Currently, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal law.
The FBI’s investigative operations are organized in a number of programs, such as:
- International terrorism
- Domestic terrorism
- Foreign counterintelligence
- Public corruption
- Civil rights
- Organized crime and drugs
- White-collar crime
- Violent crimes
The FBI has authority to investigate any threats to national security, and FBI agents can make arrests for any federal offense committed in their presence.
FBI Special Agent Careers: Job Requirements and Salary Expectations
Individuals who want to become FBI special agents must meet the agency’s strict entry requirements. Specifically, individuals must be U.S. citizens; they must be at least 23 years old but no older than 36 at the time of their appointment; and they must be able to pass a number of assessments and a comprehensive
Further, all candidates for FBI special agent careers must possess four-year degree from an accredited college or university, and they must have at least three years of professional work experience. It is common for candidates to possess bachelor degrees in such fields as criminal justice, criminology, sociology, emergency management, and homeland security, as they provide a solid framework for a career in federal law enforcement.
Individuals applying for FBI special agent jobs must also qualify under one of the give Special Agent Entry Programs, which include:
- Computer Science/Information Technology
All candidates are prioritizes based on the critical skills they possess and for which the FBI is currently recruiting.
New FBI special agents are usually hired at the GS-10 federal pay scale which, as of 2014, was between $ 46,229 and $60,098. FBI special agents, in addition to their base pay, also receive locality pay and availability pay.
Locality may be between 12.5 and 28.7 percent of an agent’s base pay, depending on the location of the assignment. Availability pay is 25 percent above the base salary and locality pay, due to the requirement of all special agents to average a 50-hour work week. As such, with locality and availability pay, new FBI special agents may earn a salary of between $61,100 and $69,000.
In addition to qualifying for FBI agent jobs upon graduating from an accredited bachelor’s degree program, students may apply for one of the FBI’s internships, which include a paid Honors Internship Program, a non-paid Volunteer Internship Program, a Cyber Internship Program, and a Visiting Scientist Program.
FBI is also home to the Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF), a prestigious two-year training and development program.
The PMF allows recipients to engage in frequent interaction with FBI executives and enjoy mentorship opportunities with current FBI employees. Some students of the PMF may also convert to a permanent position upon completion of their fellowship. Candidates must be in their final year of a graduate program at an accredited college or university to be eligible for the PMF.
FBI Academy Training Requirements
The FBI Academy, which is located in Quantico, Virginia, has training programs in place for special agents, intelligence analysts, law enforcement officers, and professional staff.
Just a few of the FBI’s training programs include:
- Firearms: The use of Bureau-issued firearms
- Hogan’s Alley: A training complex designed to providing training in investigative techniques, firearms skills and defensive tactics.
- Tactical and Emergency Vehicle Operations Center: Teaches safe and efficient driving techniques
- Survival Skills: Handling critical situations in high-risk environments
Basic Training for FBI Agents
Basic training for new FBI agents lasts approximately 20 weeks (about 800 hours) and includes coursework in: firearms training, academics, case exercises, and operational skills.
- Academic work in basic training includes study in law, ethics, behavioral science, interviewing and report writing, investigative and intelligence techniques, interrogation, and forensic science.
- Case exercises include integrated case scenarios through a mock town called Hogan’s Alley and through a practical exercise called Capstone, which utilizes culturally diverse role players in an intelligence and terrorism scenario
- Firearms training includes training with a Bureau-issued pistol, carbine, and shotgun, as well as study in firearms marksmanship, firearms safety, basic weapons handling skills, and live fire training
- Operational skills include a number of areas of training, from defensive tactics and surveillance to physical fitness and tactical driving. Defense tactics include: boxing, handcuffing, weapon retention, and disarming techniques, among others.
An additional 90 hours of instruction and practical exercises are focused on:
- Physical and electronic surveillance
- Undercover operations
- Intelligence dissemination and development
Agent trainees are also expected to complete a standardized physical fitness test and achieve a total of 12 points in the areas of: sit-ups (in one minute); push-ups (untimed); a timed 300-meter sprint; and a timed 1.5-mile run.