How do I Become a Federal Investigator?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2019
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The process to become a federal investigator with the Federal Bureau of Investigation can be quite lengthy. While there are many federal investigator jobs, it is one type of law enforcement service that requires a college degree. Many others only require attending a law enforcement academy. In addition, there are physical requirements and background requirements that must be met. Taking the process step by step is the easiest way to become a federal investigator.

First, anyone who wants to become a federal investigator must be able to prove citizenship and age. A potential agent must either be a citizen of the United States, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Also, agents must be at least 23 years old, but be no older than 36.

Second, a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree is required. This degree must come from a university in the United States that is regionally accredited with an institution recognized by the Department of Education. Nearly all major universities carry this accreditation, as well as the majority of smaller colleges. Still, if there is any doubt, and the student desires to become a federal investigator, it is always good to check on accreditation before enrolling.


The actual degree earned can be quite diversified. In many cases, the degrees the FBI are interested in an agent receiving deal largely with the crimes prevalent at the time. For example, if financial crimes are an issue, then those with degrees in accounting and finance may find it easier to become a federal investigator. For computer-based crimes, those with computer science degrees may be in demand as federal investigators.

The physical fitness test is another important part to becoming a federal investigator. The test consists of four different parts: a 300-meter sprint, sit-ups that can be done in one minute, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. The applicant must score at least one point in each area, and have a cumulative total of 12 in all areas. Anyone who applies to become a federal agent, and gets accepted will have three opportunities to pass the physical fitness test. The test must again be passed after enrolling in the FBI academy.

The physical fitness test is set up differently for male agents versus female agents. For example, the 1.5-mile run can be worth a total of 10 points if an male agent can run it 8:59 or better, or if a female agent can run it 10:34 or better. It could take up to two points away if it is run too slow as well -- 13:30 or longer for males, and 15:00 or longer for females. Each exercise is set up on a similar scale. Starting to work on the physical requirements as early as possible ensures the best chance of success.


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