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The Salary of an FBI Detective

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Federal Bureau of Investigation detectives are principal investigators for the U.S. Department of Justice, reporting their investigative findings to U.S. attorneys across the nation. Work responsibilities for these detectives, referred to as special agents, include overseeing court-sanctioned wiretaps, conducting surveillance and investigating white-collar crimes. The General Schedule (GS) pay system categorizes base salaries for FBI special agents. Additionally, FBI special agents receive locality and availability pay.

Locality and Availability Pay

The 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act instituted a locality pay system for GS employees that stipulates additional payments, based on regions throughout the United States, that range from 12.5 to 28.7 percent of the GS base salary. Because of the requirement for special agents to work an average 50-hour week, they also earn availability pay, which is an additional 25 percent of the combined base salary and locality pay.

FBI Trainees

All FBI special agents start their careers at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, with 20 weeks of field and classroom training. During this time, trainees live on-site at the academy and study academic topics as well as complete training in defensive tactics, physical fitness and the use of firearms. A trainee earns a base salary of $43,441 plus an additional locality pay of 17.5 percent of this base salary, which equals $51,043.

Newly Assigned Agents

After graduating from the FBI Academy, newly assigned special agents earn a beginning salary of $43,441 plus an additional locality pay that ranges from 12.5 to 28.7 percent of this base salary. Add the availability pay adjustment and an FBI special agent in his first job can earn between $61,100 and $69,900. Additionally, in economically high-cost areas, such as New York or San Francisco, an agent might earn a one-time relocation bonus of $22,000.


As FBI special agents gain skills and experience, they can qualify for promotions to nonsupervisory, supervisory, managerial and executive positions. Salaries for nonsupervisory positions in the field range from GS 10 to GS 13 grade levels. Salaries for supervisory, managerial and executive positions might be in the GS 14, GS 15 or FBI Senior Executive Service grade levels. For example, salaries in the senior executive grade level range from $133,900 to $183,500.


The FBI also offers the following benefits packages: Health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, education programs, life insurance benefits, time-off benefits, work-life programs and training programs. The Department of Justice also offers transit allowances for agents who wish to commute to and from work. These allowances include transportation fares and tickets for trolleys, trains and other forms of public transportation. Additionally, the FBI Recreation Association offers discount admission prices to regional events.


In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

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