A Career with the FBI
by: Diana Clarke
Do you have what it takes to become an FBI special
agent? Do you have a sincere desire to enforce federal laws and investigate
This job requires hard work and can often times
be dangerous and stressful. You'll undoubtedly be in close contact with
crimminals and victims of crime. But a special agent's job is rewarding
if you enjoy serving the public. Long before applying for a job as an
FBI special agent, you'll need to plan carefully what you need to do to
The FBI Special Agent
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents
are the Government's primary investigators, who investigate criminal violations
of over 260 statutes not assigned to another federal agency. Agents may
conduct surveillance, monitor wiretaps, examine financial records, or
participate in undercover assignments, just to name a few.
The FBI investigates organized crime, white collar
crime, such as health care fraud, counterterrorism, copyright infringement,
civil rights violations, bank robbery, extortion, kidnapping, terrorism,
espionage, violent crimes, drug trafficking, and other violations of Federal
The following was adapted from The Federal Bureau
of Investigation, Facts and Figures 2003, FBI Priorities (http://www.fbi.gov/priorities/priorities.htm)
The FBI's priorities are to:
The FBI looks for job applicants who have skills
in interrogation, report writing, surveillance, and giving testimony.
The selection process also includes cognitive tests, an interview, background
check, polygraph test, and drug test.
The FBI also looks for individuals with character
traits, such as honesty and sound judgement.
Physical Training Requirements
An example of a requirement would be the PRT, a
1.5 mile run test, passed with scores of 14 minutes 10 seconds or under
for females and 12 minutes 40 seconds or under for males.
The candidate for a scientist position must first
qualify under an existing entry program and have a degree in physics,
chemistry, mathematics, biology, nursing, bio-chemistry, Forensics, Medical
specialties, or related field. The candidate for a Forensic Scientist
position should major in biochemistry, biology or biotechnology. The Forensic
scientist analyzes evidence such as hairs, firearms, DNA, photographs,
fingerprints, and handwriting examples and testifies verbally and in writing.
Advice from a former FBI profiler
John Douglas, a former FBI profiler, offers the
follow advice for aspiring FBI special agents:
Don't major in a course you dislike, such as accounting,
because you think it will help you to become a special agent. "Make sure
your primary focus is finding a career you enjoy," says Douglas.
For more information on employment as a FBI Special
Agent, check your phone directory for your state FBI office. Or visit
the FBI online.
the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2002-2003, US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Federal Bureau of Investigation (www.fbi.gov)
John Douglas's Guide to Careers in the FBI,1998,
Kaplan Books, Simon and Schuster, New York.
Diana Clarke has taught job search skills to students in Silicon Valley. Her career and business articles have appeared in publications including the San Jose Mercury News, Cupertino Courier and the Saratoga News.
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