What does a Federal Agent do?

Mary McMahon

A federal agent is a law enforcement agent who represents a federal law enforcement agency. In nations which lack a federal government due to the organization of their political system, other types of law enforcement agents represent the interests and concerns of the national government. A federal agent performs a wide variety of tasks, all of which are designed to protect the integrity of the federal government, the safety of citizens, and the security of the country as a whole.

Federal agents typically receive extensive firearms training.
Federal agents typically receive extensive firearms training.

Many nations with federal governments have several law enforcement agencies which operate at the federal level. A federal agent investigates and prosecutes violations of federal law, such as crimes which cross state boundaries or acts of domestic terrorism. They may work with local law enforcement agents to accomplish common goals, as well as with agents who are involved in international investigations. Levels of cooperation between agencies vary, depending on their past together and how they are organized, with many nations recognizing that cooperation needs to be a priority.

Federal agents are called in to question suspects in high profile cases.
Federal agents are called in to question suspects in high profile cases.

Some examples of federal agents include tax officials, who audit citizens to confirm that they are complying with the tax code and conduct investigations into suspected cases of tax fraud or evasion, along with federal drug agents, who deal with violations of federal drug law, and treasury agents, who investigate counterfeiting and other financial crimes. Federal agents generally has jurisdiction across the entire country, although they cannot work internationally.

People who want to work as federal agents generally need to be of very good character, and they may need to pass a physical fitness exam. Agents can work in the field, a job which is often coveted because it is highly glamorous, but they can also work behind the desk, dealing with a wide variety of information and managing field agents. Federal agents may be highly educated, and a federal agent can also be a veteran of the military or of regional law enforcement agencies.

The pay for federal agents varies, depending on the pay grade and length of experience. Federal agents also usually have access to benefits such as health insurance and a pension plan, which can be appealing, especially to people who intend to make careers in federal law enforcement. Job listings for federal agents are publicly listed at various federal agencies, and often available through their websites; all applicants who are qualified will be considered, although competition for many positions can be fierce, so it is definitely a good idea to achieve a high level of performance before applying to work as a federal agent.

Treasury agents investigate counterfeiting crimes.
Treasury agents investigate counterfeiting crimes.

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Discussion Comments


Thanks, you did help me. Now all i have to do is find out what college has that class to major in. Would you know some? By the way i live in georgia.


so you're saying i have to major in criminal justice?


Great article- I learned a lot. I just want to add that federal agents also investigate mortgage fraud. Identifying these fraud trends and informing the general public is another function of a federal agent.

For example, according to the F.B.I. most mortgage fraud transactions involve property flipping, mortgage-related identity theft and equity skimming. The federal agent would inform the public as to how to avoid such situations.


Kwame- That’s great that you want to be a federal agent. Most federal agents have college degrees with a concentration in criminal justice.

Many find internships with the F.B.I., while in college, but some obtain a job after graduation. An extensive background check is required that often takes up to 6 months. I hope that helps.


i go to miller grove high school and i just want to know where to start to be a federal agent. i play a lot of games that deal with capturing drug dealers in other countries. my name is darius.

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