Special agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, work in a range of fields, from financial crimes and white collar investigations to drug trafficking, air piracy and kidnapping. The agency recruits special agents depending on the needs of the organization at any given time. To land a special agent post, you need a college degree and hands-on experience within an area of expertise. Hiring needs and application openings regularly are reported on the FBI’s website at fbijobs.gov.
Begin the Process in School
All special agents need a four-year college degree. Degrees that best prepare you for a job with the FBI include forensic accounting, business, computer technology and criminal justice. A background in foreign languages often is an asset when working in certain parts of the country as well. You need to join the civilian workforce or another criminal justice agency, such as a police force, to accumulate sufficient experience before being ready for the FBI application, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Work Within a Specific Industry
The FBI requires applicants to accrue at least three years of experience in a specific field before applying to the Special Agent Entry Program. Preference is given to applicants with skills and experience needed within the organization at any given time. The five programs that enlist new recruits are law, language, computer science or information technology, accounting and one, designated "diversified," that covers everything else.
Fulfill a List of Requirements
After earning a degree and accumulating the required three years of experience in a specific field, you must meet a number of other requirements. Only U.S. citizens or Northern Mariana Islands citizens can apply to the FBI. Applicants must be between the ages of 23 and 37, with a valid driver’s license and the ability to work anywhere in the country. Physical fitness requirements include the ability to pass tests in various areas. You accumulate points for the number of sit-ups you can do in a minute, how fast you run a 300-meter sprint, how many push-ups you can perform and your time in a 1.5-mile run. Your vision can be no worse than 20/200 in both eyes and, with correction, it must be able to become at least 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other eye. Hearing tests with minimum requirements also are required, according to the FBI’s Special Agent Physical Requirements.
Undergo Application Process
The first step is to complete an online application process through a local FBI office when recruiting is open. Based on the application, candidates are brought in for further testing; candidates possessing critical skills that are needed at the time and those with language skills usually get priority. After passing the first phase of testing, you move on to phase two, which includes a personal interview with a panel of special agents. Applicants passing this phase then receive a job offer, pending further testing that includes medical tests, a lie detector test and a thorough background check. Passing candidates then are referred to the FBI Academy for training.