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Breaking Into the DEA

Breaking Into the DEA

DEA Agents seen here training in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo: justice.gov/dea)

Jeff Hindenach | PoliceLink

The Drug Enforcement Agency holds some of the most sought-after jobs in the law enforcement field. Started in 1973 by President Richard Nixon, the agency has the duel task of stopping the use of illegal drugs in the U.S., as well as halting drug smuggling from other countries into the U.S. With offices all over the world, the DEA has 10,800 employees and a budget of over $2.4 billion.

The DEA has very competitive standards and only takes the cream of the crop when looking for special agents. Find out if you have what it takes to make it in the DEA.

Have the Background

As a cop, you already have the background and training that the DEA is looking for. Those with law enforcement and military experience are preferred over all other applicants. All applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, with special attention going to those with a criminal or law degree, and those who are multi-lingual are some of the most sought-after candidates in the DEA. Your best bet in getting started is to attend an orientation that local DEA offices offer to potential candidates.

Know the Requirements

The DEA has some of the strictest guidelines for employment. In addition to having a law enforcement and/or legal background, one must also be in top physical condition and pass a Physical Task Test. Candidates cannot be under 21 or over 37 and must be a U.S. citizen. Candidates must also pass an interview session, which includes a psychological evaluation. In addition, the DEA requires an extensive background check on every potential employee.

Pass the In-Depth Investigation

Employees of the DEA are constantly scrutinized about drug use. Any previous or current drug use will absolutely exclude you from being considered. Drug tests happen randomly throughout your career at the DEA. In addition, when you apply, you must fill out a Drug Questionnaire that lists all your previous drug interactions. You don’t just have these tests to worry about — an extensive police background investigation is done on each candidate, which includes interviews with everyone in your life — family, friends, bosses, co-workers, neighbors, and even teachers. There are also credit and criminal record investigations and a polygraph test that each employee has to pass.

Pick a Specialty

The DEA offers many different career paths that will suit any background in law enforcement. The most common, and also most dangerous, are the Special Agents who work directly in the field. These positions require more training and physical tests than most of the other positions.

If the field isn’t right for you, there are plenty of other opportunities. Diversion Investigators are in charge of the direct investigations of the sale and distribution of controlled substances. If you are more into forensics, there are plenty of opportunities in the DEA, such as Forensic Chemist or Fingerprint Specialist. Or if you’d rather work with data, try your hand as a Intelligence Research Specialist.

Ace the Training

Training for the DEA — which happens at their academy at the US Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia — is a 16-week program, including an intense 122-hour firearms training, which tests everything from weapon safety to tactical shooting and marksmanship. The agency’s firearm of choice is the Glock 22 and Glock 23 in .40 caliber ammunition. According to the DEA training site, a large part of the training focuses on “respect for human life, leadership and ethics, human dignity, and sound judgment in the use of deadly force.” The trainees are expected to translate those lessons into real-life simulation exercises before they can pass training.


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    devvon

    about 3 years ago

    30 Comments

    There's not doubt that one needs many skills to enroll into DEA and I do hope the best people are selected for this, the fight against drugs is not easy, in fact it's getting tougher and tougher by the year. I recently read some statistics on a Florida rehab resource and it really got me worried to see that the drugs are take more and more space in our society.

  • Sherlock_tracking_max50

    lextal91

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    I'm a former cop and detective of 10 years prior to moving into private industry investigations. My ex did a short stint w/ DEA and it sucked. It's not all the glam, kickin' in doors, bang bang, chase 'em down, shoot 'em up...that's Hollywood BS. Rather, the agents she worked with literally spent a LOT of time in the office with feet propped up, figuring out where to go eat lunch, picking up their dry cleaning and reading the paper...a little bit of action here and there, but overwhelmingly nothing very exciting. I don't wish to shoot down anyone's dreams, but be realistic and do some more checking if you're considering a fed move...in ANY of the fed branches. They have great pay, retirement, etc...but the actual work is NOT what many think it is.

  • Jaymie_max50

    kingjaymie1989

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    i want to become dea or fbi

  • Jaymie_max50

    kingjaymie1989

    over 3 years ago

    4 Comments

    I am inactivity militaryi am want to become a dea or fbi

  • 1_max50

    marine10311

    about 4 years ago

    572 Comments

    Those of you that are still in school need to get out and get some street smarts first. I have applied and been turned down for the fact I have not been on the road long enough. I have 4 years in the Marine Corps with 3 combat tours to Iraq. I am an LEO and have been for about 2 years now. So not to be mean or to shoot your dreams down but you need at least 5 years on the road start there.

  • Sepiasquare_max50

    michaellake

    about 4 years ago

    18 Comments

    my advice to ruckerc...learn to spell the name of the agency you're applying to.

    my advice to everyone else who is on here in college talking about getting a degree and wanting to work for the DEA when they're done...get a job with a police department. learn spanish. get on the drug unit. then apply after 5 years. you don't see too many 22 year olds working for the DEA. especially at the field level. get some time in somewhere, and earn the respect of those who are making decisions in the hiring process.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    lisaromance

    about 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    My friend told me --meetrich.com --** . It's where many highly successful people are in search of someone for a quality relationship in their life, the same as you:)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 4 years ago

    I have been thinking about applying for the D.E.A or the U.S Marchelles once I finish my time in the Service. any one have any advice?

  • Jack_bauer_max50

    Allen705

    about 4 years ago

    1466 Comments

    I will pass, this agency is at the wim of whatever national leader decides what their preference is, to what drugs and where they can be enforced. Point and case, the current administration's view about medical marijuana.

  • Zombiehunter_max50

    ae2real

    about 4 years ago

    98 Comments

    I think most people missed the most important sentence. As a cop, you already have the background and training that the DEA is looking for. Meaning those that are already Sworn Law Enforcement Officers and have some experience.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bobrowski

    over 4 years ago

    32 Comments

    What if you are not a kid but have bought drugs for the govt. since 1996 would that qualify you

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    sierra_charlie_hotel

    over 4 years ago

    414 Comments

    My criminal justice degree is about as useless as tits on a nun. Maybe only for getting a higher pay incentive. I learned nothing from my degree except that none of it is relevant once on the streets. Get real-world, relevant, realistic training locally, build your training and certifications up, then go federal. Secret service is a better bet.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jd_82

    over 4 years ago

    22 Comments

    This stuff always looks more glamorous than it is. There are some cool jobs to be had for sure, but kids from your basic state school getting your standard Criminal Justice degree while having no other special skills shouldn't think they'll be on the front line stemming the flow of drugs into this country fighting narco guerillas. Do some narcotics work locally first, learn a language or two (Spanish to start), then take your shot.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    symbolpeace

    over 4 years ago

    98 Comments

    I admire D.E.A members, they work hard playing hard

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    symbolpeace

    over 4 years ago

    98 Comments

    If you can do it, Do it.

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