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What Kind of Degrees Does the FBI Look For?

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You’ll face stiff competition when you apply to become a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent. One thing that can help you stand out from your competitors is your educational background. The FBI gives preference to candidates who have earned degrees in certain highly prized fields, such as accounting or computer science.

It's All About the Numbers

Tracking down ill-gotten gains is an important part of the crime solving process. Agents who have degrees in accounting or finance have the educational background to understand and investigate complex financial schemes. If you have an accounting degree, you’ll also need a Certified Public Accountant certification and three years’ of progressive experience working for a public entity or accounting firm. If you have a finance degree, it will help to obtain certification in one of three areas: Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Fraud Examiner or Certified Financial Analyst. The FBI also prefers candidates with finance degrees to have two years of work experience that includes experience working as a business owner, auditor, fraud investigator or financial analyst, or experience working in law enforcement investigating white collar crime.

Hackers Wanted

Your superior computer skills and a degree in computer science, information technology or electrical engineering can help you get a job as an FBI special agent. The FBI will consider degrees in other areas if you have either a Cisco Certified Internetworking or Cisco Certified Network Professional Certification. Agents with computer skills retrieve information from damaged hard disks and search for evidence on personal computers and the Internet. Certain kinds of experience can help increase your chances of acceptance, such as maintaining servers and server operating systems, maintaining and monitoring protocol network performance. Internet work experience, including maintenance of Internet information services or maintenance of an Internet service provider, can also help you qualify for a special agent position.

The More Languages the Better

Special agents who have degrees in one or more languages help the FBI make sure it doesn’t overlook important information simply because it’s written or spoken in a different language. To qualify for the Language Entry Program, you must pass examinations that test your ability to listen, read and speak in another language. You must score a minimum of three on the speaking test. The FBI advises that the following languages are currently in demand: Hindi, Farsi, Punjabi, Urdu, Pashtu, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese.

Other Degrees

A Juris Doctorate from a law school is required to enter the FBI under the Law Entry Program. If you have certain critical skills, such as experience in law enforcement or investigations, you might increase your chance of acceptance into the program. You also can become a special agent under the Diversified Entry Program, but if you enter under this program, it’s important to have skills that the FBI considers critical, such as foreign language proficiency, experience in the military or law enforcement, or a degree in the physical sciences. Candidates who enter through the Diversified Entry Program need a bachelor’s degree in any field and three years’ work experience. You also can enter with two years’ work experience if you have an advanced degree.