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If it weren't for FBI communications liaisons, few people would know that the FBI has about 35,000 employees, or that the FBI National Academy graduated its 50,000th student in 2017. Staff members in the bureau's Office of Public Affairs publicize the accomplishments of the agency on its website and in the media. If you have communications skills, a college degree and a passion to serve your country, this could be the field for you.
A Mission of Promotion
Strong, silent types need not apply for this job. You need to be well-spoken and foster relationships with members of the media and agencies that work alongside the bureau. Organization is key. You need to plan a schedule and stick to it, whether you’re publishing a newsletter, speaking on television or updating the FBI website. Sometimes you’ll have to drop everything and react to a crisis. You need to complete projects on deadline. Computer skills are essential because you'll write news releases, Web posts and reports on computers. You'll use a digital camera to shoot still photos and video and then post that material on the FBI website or use it in multimedia presentations.
Delivering the Message
Communication liaisons work closely with local, national and international news media outlets through the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs. You’ll answer questions from reporters and prepare news releases about important FBI matters, such as soliciting help from the public to track down a serial bank robber or publicizing the date for a new field office groundbreaking. You’ll produce briefing reports for executives. Posting content on the FBI website is your responsibility. You’re also charged with maintaining the FBI’s history archive and conducting research.
Out Front and Behind the Scenes
FBI communications liaisons get out into the community. From presenting at schools, community centers and town watch meetings to conducting Citizens Academy programs for children, your mission is to promote the bureau and answer questions. If a filmmaker or author needs help from the FBI to make his or her crime-related story more realistic, you answer the call. The job calls for travel to conferences and symposiums, where you’ll either observe or support the event. The Office of Public Affairs requires 15 hours of continuing education, which you can get through the FBI, the United States Intelligence Community, the government or private vendors, per year.
How to Reach the Top
You’ll need an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university for this job. The FBI recommends community liaison agents major in one of the following: communications, writing and editing, journalism, cultural or minority studies, history, political science, another social science, graphics and design for Web or print, or public administration or management. A Master of Business Administration degree is also welcome. Workers in the Office of Public Affairs hold pay grades from General Schedule 7 to General Schedule 15. As of 2017, that translated to a salary of $40,684 to $155,073 a year in most of the U.S. Workers stationed in major metro areas may get a salary adjustment to account for a higher cost of living.
Rudy Miller has been writing professionally since 1996. Miller is a digital team leader for lehighvalleylive.com, a local news website and content provider to the Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pa. Miller holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami.