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How to Become an FBI Agent

Working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation is not only a prestigious position but noble. The FBI is one of the six agencies represented by the Justice Department and enforces federal laws. Keep reading for steps to apply and be a federal agent.


  1. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 1
    Make sure you meet the minimum requirements for application.
    • You must be under 37 years of age when you're hired but at least 23 years of age.
    • Have a driver's license in a US state.
    • Have a minimum of a Bachelors degree from an accredited four year university
    • Be physically able to complete the training and execute the duties. This includes the ability to fight, complete fire arms training, and other duties as required. You should consider yourself physically fit.
    • You should be able to transition into one of the following areas of expertise:
      • Law (Must also possess a Juris Doctor)
      • Language (Must be proficient in a language and able to pass the FBI language exam)
      • Accounting (Must major in Accounting and be able to pass the CPA exam or FBI equivalent)
      • Diversified duties (require an advanced degree with work experience or a minimum of 3 years of work experience)
    • A three year commitment is required when you accept employment.
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    Make sure you don't have any disqualifying factors.
    • Felony conviction
    • Currently in default of your student loan
    • You can't have a history of illegal drug use (Marijuana use longer than three years ago will be ignored, are otherwise qualified and you didn't use any other illegal drugs, in the last ten years. This includes steroid usage. If you ever used drugs in a position of law enforcement or public trust is also a disqualification.)
    • You have to pass a drug test
    • You have to be registered for selective service
  3. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 3
    Complete an Application Checklist. This contains basic information and background information.
    • Provide addresses and dates of residence for all homes from birth until present, this includes college, military, parents' homes, frat houses and everything including the temporary housing you lived in with your parents when you were a year old.
    • Provide a complete work history, any volunteer work, any law enforcement experience or military, awards and academic achievement.
    • Fill out the application and send it in to your local FBI office or the nearest one.
  4. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 4
    Take the first qualification test. This is also known as Phase I testing.
    • This isn't a test you can study for, more of a personality quiz than anything else.
  5. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 5
    If they like your test results, you may be asked to fill out their 'real' job application. This is the one that is long and detailed. Goes into a lot of depth about you and your immediate family. They do an extensive background investigation.
  6. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 6
    After this, they rate you based on test results and application evaluation. Basically, they throw you into one of three groups:
    • you look good on paper, time to actually meet you in person
    • They like you, but there are better qualified people in front of you
    • They don't really want you
  7. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 7
    Be invited to fill out an application for continued consideration. This will include details about family history and more details for an extensive background check. Don't be shocked if they call your kindergarten teacher or the person you dated in Junior High or the parents of the person you dated in Junior High.
  8. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 8
    Get invited to complete Phase II of testing.
    • This includes an interview and more written tests.
  9. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 9
    Pass the Phase II testing and you will be eligible for the Final Screening Process. This process includes:
    • Polygraph
    • Drug test
    • Extensive background check
    • Conditional appointment
    • Physical exam
    • Security interview
    • Commitment to be available to begin work in two-weeks.
    • Credit check
    • Anyone you've met who isn't a US citizen or associations with non-US citizen, any foreign travel, etc.
    • Psychological testing
  10. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 10
    Prepare yourself to be rejected at any time. This is usually done by mail.
  11. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 11
    Complete the application and testing process. If all goes well to this point, you'll be shipped off to Quantico, VA for field agent training. Agent training last approximately sixteen weeks. Failure at anytime will result in rejection.
    • Try to leave your old job under good terms.
    • Acceptance is no guarantee you will successfully complete training and testing at the FBI Academy.
  12. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 12
    Keep quiet. Although it is tempting you shouldn't advertise your achievement to everyone. Modesty is best.
  13. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 13
    Prepare to move to another city. To eliminate any chance of favoring friends, family, etc. they will almost always move you to another city.
    • The city will probably be an area not desired by tenured agents and where you can gain experience.
    • Don't be shocked if you are required to report to Fargo, North Dakota for a period of time following the academy. Prepare your loved ones for this possibility. Desirable postings in ideal cities require experience, training, a special or desired talent or time served.
  14. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 14
    Remember to be completely honest at all times. They will open every closet to inspect every skeleton before hiring you. Failure to disclose information will result in immediate rejection from hiring pool or immediate termination if already hired.
  15. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 15
    Understand they keep track and research other agencies where you have applied. Excessive applications with certain agencies may send up red flags.
  16. Image titled Become an FBI Agent Step 16
    Visit the FBI website for a more detailed listing of the process and the specifics of each phase of application and hiring. (See link in Citations and Sources.)


  • Be loyal.
  • Be proficient in using various kinds of firearms.
  • Try to get an internship with the FBI - it's a great way to get your foot in the door.
  • Consider taking courses in foreign languages while you are in the application process. It sometimes takes well over a year to get an interview. In that time you can increase your chances by expanding your language skills.
  • Once out of college, apply to positions in law enforcement. Work to get in departments working against drug use, white collar crime, etc.
  • Don't use drugs.
  • Fluency in 1 or more foreign languages is also a bonus
  • Most agents have a background in criminal justice, law, or accounting
  • Prior military service is a bonus... unless you've been discharged other than honorably


  • The application and hiring process can last from 90 days to over two years. Don't quit your day job.
  • Clean up as many negative marks from your credit report as possible. Anyone with financial problems may be a candidate for accepting bribes and your hiring questionable. Since the process takes so long you can eliminate small errors early on and have plenty of time to rebuild.
  • The application is extremely long and time consuming to complete. Be prepared to call your parents to verify addresses when you were a child. The application will also require plenty of paper to print. Be ready, have plenty of ink, paper and patience.
  • Be prepared to relocate. Failure to agree will likely result in withdrawal of your appointment.
  • For this reason, you may want to go to work as a criminal investigator at another federal law enforcement agency first, then pursue a career with the FBI.
  • For the last several years they've received 50,000 applicants and accepted less than 1,000
  • Don't rack up debt during the application process.
  • Rejection from the FBI will likely diminish your chances with employment at other federal offices and duties. They keep track and if one rejects you the others will also likely reject you based on the FBI's data.
  • The agency still largely relies on the polygraph and has come under criticism for dismissing possible applicants for inconclusive polygraph results. Almost any questionable reading will land your application in the Do-Not-Hire pile.
  • Be prepared for the unavoidable prying into your private life that will come both before and after you are hired. You will be asked numerous questions about your personal life. You will be grilled on everything from your politics, ideologies, personal relationships, and even sexual preferences and habits. These will include numerous questions that would be otherwise illegal in a job interview anywhere else. Although they want the truth, they will expect you to be somewhat restrained and vague (without lying) about revealing very intimate details of your personal life. This wont matter to them as they have other ways of finding out such things if they really cared to do so. It's probably better for you to simply answer their questions to their satisfaction.
    • Many of these questions are based on character alone. They want to make sure that you are not an advocate of anything that they might view as deviant or subversive. Liberal types are treated with heavy suspicion. It is likely that you will be viewed as a weak candidate if they can see from your bearing that you are not a 100% advocate of traditional, conservative, American values.

Things You'll Need

  • Competitive application
  • College degree: bachelors degree in desirable subjects will give you an advantage. Bachelors degree is a requirement.
  • Proof of 2-3 years work experience in your field at a minimum.
  • Clean criminal history. No convictions. Even minor infractions will be noticed.
  • No history of illegal drug use. That time you did X at a party when you were 17 will hurt your chances. They'll talk to almost everyone you've known well.
  • Clean history of federal student loans
  • must be registered with selective service(if required by law)
  • Physical fitness and ability to complete testing.
  • Just being healthy won't suffice, you must meet minimum strength requirements:
    • Maximum number of sit-ups in one minute
    • Timed 300-meter sprint
    • Maximum number of push-ups (untimed)
    • Timed 1.5 mile (2.4 km) run
    • Lifting a percentage of your body weight (differs for males versus females)
    • Have to be a citizen of the US.

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Categories: Careers in Government