To qualify for a job as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an applicant must first meet certain citizenship, age and experience requirements. Once those there criteria are met, candidates may be selected to move on to the next stage, which typically involves taking certain tests, including communication and logic skills tests. After passing these tests, an applicant usually has to then pass an extensive background check, physical fitness test and health exam.
If results are great, a candidate may be offered admission to the FBI academy. Although just passing these tests does not guarantee acceptance into the next step to become an FBI agent — only the top applicants are processed forward. If that happens, then a candidate must successfully complete the rigorous academy to become an FBI agent.
The general perimeters to getting started in the process call for either a U.S. citizenship or one from the Northern Mariana Islands or other U.S. territory. Age requirements call for applicants to typically be between 23 years old and 37 years old. Exceptions to these age requirements may be made. A four-year degree from an accredited college or university is important as well as at least three years of work experience to qualify to become an FBI agent. Finally, a potential agent usually will need to have a valid driver’s license and a willingness to work anywhere the FBI serves.
After meeting these requirements, a candidate will generally apply to one of the five special agent entry programs. The general entry path is called the diversified program, which calls for the basic prerequisites previously mentioned. More specific entry programs include accounting, computers, language and law. Requirements for each of these programs vary, but generally include advanced degrees and/or certifications.
Candidates with the strongest credentials are often asked to move on to the testing phase of the path to becoming an FBI agent. This phase can involve two rounds of testing. The first round involves written exams to assess communication, logic and reasoning skills, as well as language skills in some cases. If these tests are successfully completed, the second round of testing usually involves an interview process and another written component.
Upon successful completion of the testing rounds, those special agent candidates whose skills match the FBI’s current needs may be given a conditional offer to become an FBI agent. The conditional component of the offer requires a background check, physical fitness test and medical exam. An FBI background check usually involves a credit and criminal history check, plus a polygraph test and interviews of teachers, employers and others references. Physical fitness testing usually involves sit-ups, push-ups, sprints and endurance runs. The medical exam usually involves a medical history review, as well as vision and hearing tests.
Passing the rounds of testing and review with high scores and recommendations can result in a candidate being offered admission to the FBI academy. The training to become an FBI agent lasts about two years. It typically covers many types of training, including classroom instruction, and physical fitness, self-defense and firearms training. It is only after graduation from the FBI academy, that one will become an FBI agent.