An FBI agent, also known as a special agent, works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI.) These individuals investigate federal crimes and national security threats. FBI agents chase and arrest suspects, stakeout of suspected locations of suspects or alleged criminal activities, conduct undercover investigations to catch criminals or terrorists planning to commit a crime, examine credit card statements and other financial records to track criminals and potential security threats, and file reports about criminal activities and potential security threats. In addition, FBI agents install and use video surveillance devices such as cameras, microphones, and wiretaps. As part of their routine job tasks, FBI agents interview witnesses, interrogate suspects, offer assistance to injured or endangered individuals, and perform a variety of other tasks. An FBI agent typically is assigned to a specific division of the FBI based on the specific type of criminal activity he or she is trained to prevent. The FBI is currently split into five main divisions, including the Counterterrorism Division, Counterintelligence Division (prevents enemies from accessing sensitive information that might threaten national security), the Criminal Investigative Division, the Cyber Division (investigates computer crimes), and the Directorate of Intelligence (gathers information about the U.S. enemies and national security threats). Some FBI agents also may work for specialized units or taskforces such as financial crime units, organized crime units, white-collar crime units, and other units. In addition, FBI agents may work for drug trafficking taskforces. These taskforces often work in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency.
An FBI agent typically earns between $52,000 and $87,000 a year, but some FBI agents may make more or less than this amount depending on the area in which they work. In fact, in some areas an FBI agent may make as little as $48,000 or as much as $110,000 a year. It is important to note, however, that the specific amount that an FBI agent will earn not only depends on the area in which the FBI agent works, but also on the individual’s experience and education. As a result, an FBI agent with specialized skills, additional education, or additional experience may make significantly more money per year than can typical FBI agents.
An FBI agent must be a U.S. citizen no less than 23 years of age but no more than 37 years of age. In addition, an agent must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a valid driver’s license, and three years experience in law enforcement (a master’s or doctoral degree may fulfill one year of the experience requirement). Potential agents must pass a physical examination and fitness test and complete a 21-week training program at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia. You may be able to substitute other experience or degrees for the law enforcement experience requirement if you are a Certified Public Accountant, are proficient in a foreign language currently needed by the FBI (the FBI website typically lists needed languages), or if you have a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a law degree.