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Different Types of FBI Agents

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Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation fall into five categories. The types of FBI agents are: special agents, intelligence analysts, surveillance professionals, forensic accountants and linguistics experts. The FBI is the primary investigative organization within the United States Department of Justice. Its responsibilities include identifying, investigating and apprehending criminals. In addition, the FBI is a national security agency and works to combat terrorism, espionage and other threats to the U.S.

FBI Special Agents

Among the jobs in FBI field offices, special agent is probably the most well known. There is really no daily routine for a special agent. One day she might be interviewing suspects and testifying in court. The next day starts with firearms practice. Then she might get a call to join other agents to apprehend a bank robber. Sometimes, she spends her time examining documents as part of an investigation. The work week might end with a speech at a community gathering. FBI special agents work closely with other agencies to track individuals suspected of planning terrorist attacks or engaging in espionage.

Intelligence Analyst

Intelligence analysts for the FBI are responsible for making sense of information gathered from people, documents, cyberspace and electronic surveillance. They analyze the information and make recommendations. Intelligence analysts often work closely with state, local and other federal agencies. Their input is critical to the ability of law enforcement and national security stakeholders to make informed choices.

Surveillance Professionals

FBI Jobs calls surveillance professionals the "eyes and ears" of the FBI. They work with the other agents assigned to a case to unobtrusively gather information and develop evidence. Surveillance operations are essential for countering domestic and foreign threats. Surveillance professionals must be willing to travel, work irregular hours and adjust to unconventional situations. In addition, they need to be proficient with a variety of electronic and photographic equipment.

Forensic Accountants

Whether an FBI investigation is aimed at criminals, foreign operatives or potential terrorists, there is always a financial dimension. It is the job of the FBI forensic accountant to create a picture of this financial aspect. Sometimes, he identifies and tracks suspicious activity. In other cases, forensic accountants trace illegal actions by following a trail of questionable transactions. In addition to providing information crucial to investigations, forensic accountants produce new clues that help investigators catch criminals and counter threats.


Countering national security threats or conducting investigations may sometimes call for foreign-language skills. FBI linguists use their knowledge of languages and cultures to interpret information and communicate with persons of interest. Linguists are essential team members in many counterintelligence operations. They also apply their expertise to assist efforts to combat corruption, espionage and cybercrime.

FBI Agent Requirements and Training

The duties of FBI agent jobs vary greatly, so there is no single set of requirements. In general, if you want to become an FBI agent, you must be a United States citizen and be 25 year old. A four-year college degree and three years of work experience are also required. You have to be in good physical shape and pass a medical exam. Some types of FBI agents need additional skills. For example, a linguist must be fluent in one or more foreign languages. A forensic accountant needs a degree in accounting.

Agent trainees attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The training is extremely rigorous, and lasts for 20 weeks. Classes cover law, ethics, forensic science and behavioral science. Candidates participate in case exercises to practice the skills they are learning. Training also includes defensive tactics, firearms proficiency and surveillance techniques.


Based in Atlanta, Georgia, William Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about career, employment and job preparation issues. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology with a focus on employment and labor from Georgia State University. He has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation to develop career opportunities for people with disabilities.

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