How do I Become a Federal Criminal Investigator?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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If you want to become a federal criminal investigator, you'll have to first find out what the needed requirements are through the appropriate government agency. For example, in the United States, you could check the official website of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI website includes information about how to apply to the agency as well as the necessary qualifications its investigators must have. This will give you the basic information you need to begin your path to become a federal criminal investigator.

In order to work in criminal investigations for federal agencies such as the FBI, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree. A master's degree is often preferred in federal crime investigation. Suitable education subjects include criminal justice, biology, chemistry and psychology.

Military experience is usually highly valued by government agencies hiring federal criminal investigators. Joining a military organization in your area could help give you some of the experience needed to eventually become a federal criminal investigator. Even working as a security guard or in a collections agency can count toward your criminal investigations experience. Becoming a police officer in civilian or military policing could also be a good possible start to a criminal investigations career.


Your references and recommendations for past and current work experience should be excellent. You must have a clean criminal record as well as no outstanding debts. Physical fitness is mandatory for investigators. If you want to become a federal criminal investigator, you will most likely be tested on your physical fitness and energy level. Vision and hearing tests are also likely. Polygraph tests to indicate your honesty are given to aspiring investigators by most federal agencies.

A strong interest in investigating with the intent to solve crimes is necessary if you want to become a federal criminal investigator. Detail-oriented evidence gathering is necessary in investigating federal crimes such as Internet offenses, bank fraud, kidnapping and robbery. You should be able to work well on your own as well as within the larger scope of a team. You'll have to have a stable personality and be able to communicate with potentially violent people.

If you've completed the required education and experience as well as passed all agency tests, you will then take a federal criminal investigations training program. The training could take up to six months or even longer depending on the particular federal agency. You should expect the possibility of relocating if you hope to become a federal criminal investigator.


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