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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is part of the United States Department of Justice and investigates crimes involving terrorism, violent crimes, counterintelligence, drugs, and other federal crimes. The FBI's headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. The agency also has 56 field offices located throughout the United States. The FBI employs more than 30,000 people and offers an array of jobs for professionals in many fields. Due to the sensitive data and cases with which the agency works, all FBI employees must pass an extensive background check and obtain a top-secret security clearance.
FBI special agents investigate federal crimes by working out in the field, interviewing sources and suspects, investigating crime scenes, making arrests and executing search warrants. They also work in the office, writing reports, attending squad meetings and reviewing evidence.
The FBI requires a four-year degree for this position and applicants must sign a mobility agreement, allowing the FBI to assign you to any field office in the country. New agents must be between the ages of 23 and 37 when hired.
Training for special agents is intense. New agents attend a 20-week training program at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Law enforcement tactics, investigative skills, firearms training and physical fitness drills are all taught in training.
Upon academy graduation, the FBI assigns the agent to a field office, where the agent typically spends the next three years before being transferred. FBI agents are also assigned to one of five specializations, depending on the agent's educational background, interests and staffing needs. These specializations are counterterrorism, cyber, intelligence, counterintelligence or criminal. As of March 2010, there were 13,492 FBI Special Agents.
The intelligence analyst's role involves using databases to locate evidence; reviewing special agents' reports; preparing briefings for senior FBI officials; and serving as a liaison between local, national and international contacts and other law enforcement agencies. Intelligence analysts work in all 56 FBI field offices. Applicants must sign a mobility agreement. The FBI hires intelligence analysts at all career levels, from those just out of college to experienced professionals.
FBI linguists translate reports, audio recordings, witness statements and other materials related to FBI cases. Most linguist positions are freelance-based and do not provide benefits.
Four linguist positions are available. Contract linguists translate and analyze documents or audio recordings, and are often the first to review this evidence. Due to the sensitive nature of the evidence, contract linguists must work in an FBI office.
The contract language monitor position involves summarizing an audio recording or written document's translation.
Contract testers administer the Speaking Proficiency Test for FBI linguist applicants. The test is given over the telephone, rather than face-to-face.
The special agent linguist's role encompasses all regular special agent duties, with emphasis on undercover work, surveillance and other intelligence-collecting roles in their language specialty.
Professional Staff Positions
A variety of other professional staff opportunities are available within the FBI. The FBI police provide security for FBI staff members and have law enforcement jurisdiction around FBI offices.
Information technology staff members work on the agency's computer network system. Positions include database managers, system administrators and project managers.
Several science and engineering positions are available and include chemists, mathematicians and mechanical engineers.
Surveillance specialists perform surveillance duties on counterterrorism and foreign counterintelligence cases.
Additionally, the FBI hires graphic designers, nurses, firearms specialists, auto mechanics and other professionals.