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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has 56 field offices around the nation. Each office maintains a special weapons and tactics team. Generally, these teams are comprised of special agents who work as full-time investigators, not as full-time SWAT operators. These agents work in a SWAT capacity only when a situation warrants a federal response. Consequently, salaries are based on a special agent’s pay grade. As with any job, income varies by experience and location.
All FBI special agents enter the field at a GS-10 pay grade. As of 2013, the first step within this grade was a base of $47,297 a year, according to the Office of Personnel Management. After 52 consecutive workweeks, agents are eligible to move to step two, where base pay increases to $48,823 a year. At step three, which requires another 52 weeks of service, pay increases again, with agents averaging a base of $50,349 a year. Agents continue moving up the ladder until reaching step 10, where the average base was $61,031 a year.
In addition to base pay, all field agents are eligible for locality pay, depending on their office assignment. Locality pay ranges anywhere from 12.5 percent to 28.7 percent of the base pay. For example, agents stationed in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts generally earned an additional 24.8 percent of their base pay. In these field offices, salaries were $59,027 at step one, $60,931 at step two and $62,836 at step three, as of 2013. In Minnesota, agents earned 20.96 percent on top of their base, bringing salaries up to $57,210 at step one and $59,056 at step two. Indiana-based agents tack on another 14.68 percent on top of base, bringing salaries up to $54,240 at step one and $55,990 at step two.
Over the course of a year, special agents end up averaging a 50-hour workweek, so they’re also awarded something known as availability pay. It’s a 25 percent bump on top of both base and locality pay. When accounting for availability pay, agents in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts earned $73,784 at step one, $76,164 at step two and $78,545 at step three. Though they often work more than 40 hours a week, hourly wages work out to $35.47 an hour at step one, $36.62 an hour at step two and $37.76 an hour at step three. Those assigned to the Minnesota field office earned $71,513 at step one and $73,820 at step two, while agents in Indiana earned $67,800 at step one and $69,988 at step two.
Besides the standard benefits of health insurance, life insurance and retirement, special agents may qualify for a relocation bonus. This one-time payment of $22,000 is given to those who must relocate to offices in New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boston, Newark and the District of Columbia, notes the FBI. If agents currently live in the city where they're stationed, they're not eligible for the bonus.
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.
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