What does a Federal Investigator do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2019
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A federal investigator investigates federal crimes for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The exact job description for a federal investigator may vary, depending on the type of assignment he is given. There are, however, more than 100 federal crime categories. Among the many crimes a federal investigator may investigate are those related to the Internet, terrorism, and civil rights.

One type of crime a federal investigator may investigate is terrorism. Terrorism is the use of violence or threats to intimidate a person, government, or society. Depending on the particulars of his assignment, a federal investigator may investigate threats and violence that originate inside the United States as well as those that come from people in other countries. Investigators work to solve terrorism cases that have already taken place and to prevent those that have yet to occur.

Sometimes federal investigators work to solve cyber crimes. These are crimes a person may commit using a computer and the Internet. For example, a federal investigator may investigate sexual predators who exploit children on the Internet or attempt to meet with them online. These investigators may also investigate criminals who create malicious programs, or viruses, and spread them via the Internet. They also investigate organizations suspected of Internet fraud.


Often, federal investigators work to solve hate crimes, which are attacks that are based on some type of prejudice. For example, a person may attack or threaten another person because of the color of his skin, his sexual orientation, or even his religion. These investigators may also solve cases in which public and law enforcement officials abuse their power by using excessive force when making an arrest, sexually assaulting a suspect or criminal, falsifying evidence, or purposefully allowing harm to come to an individual or community. They may also investigate human trafficking, which involves stealing, buying, or selling human beings.

Becoming a federal investigator may be more difficult than entering other types of law enforcement. For example, many jurisdictions allow individuals to become police officers without going to college. The FBI, on the other hand, requires its federal investigators to hold bachelor’s degrees. There are other requirements as well. A prospective federal investigator must be at least 23 years old but not older than 36. He must also be a citizen of the United States with a clear criminal record.

Other countries may have similar agencies that hire investigators to solve national crimes. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Security Service is an agency that hires national investigators. Each agency's focus and hiring guidelines may vary.


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