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Working as a special agent for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation can provide you with a career that is not only fulfilling and exciting, you would also be helping to protect the interests of your country and its citizens. Your duties as a federal agent may change occasionally; one day you may be on a mission to gather intelligence, while the next may be spent testifying in court or catching up on paperwork. FBI agents are paid on a fixed schedule that can vary based on geographic location and time spent in service.
The base pay for all FBI special agents is based on the general payment schedule outlined in the U.S. Statutory Pay Systems. In 2013, it was $45,771, according to General Schedule-10, step 1 of the Statutory Pay systems. This base payment is then adjusted by your geographic location, ranging from 12.5 to 28.7 percent of an agent's base salary.
FBI special agents are required to work a 50-hour work week on average over the course of the year. To adjust for this, an additional 25 percent of an agent's base pay plus locality pay is added to their salary. An agent working in Washington. D.C., with a locality adjustment of 17.5 percent would earn a total of $67,225 after adding in locality and availability pay to his base salary.
FBI agents assigned to work in high-cost areas such as New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. may be eligible for a one-time relocation bonus of about $22,000 to accommodate the increased cost of living. To qualify for this bonus, an agent must be working in an area with a lower cost of living prior to being relocated to an area with a higher cost of living.
Promotions and Advancement
Though FBI special agents are hired at the GS-10 step one pay grade, they do have the potential to advance in salary as they gain experience, or are promoted into managerial or executive positions. Agents in non-supervisory roles can be promoted up to the GS-13 pay scale, which has a base salary of $71,674 annually, while agents who receive a promotion to a supervisory position may move up to the GS-15 pay scale with a base annual salary of $99,628.
Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.
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