Print

Education >> Browse Articles >> Education in Law Enforcement

+16

Career Profile: Federal Agent

Career Profile: Federal Agent

Photo: ICE

PoliceLink

The first thing most people think of when they here the term ‘special agent’ is the FBI. In reality, the FBI is only one of almost 100 federal law enforcement agencies that employ special agents.

Special agents serve in all three branches of government – the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch – and many of the independent federal agencies, commissions, and government corporations. Examples of these agencies include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Amtrak, and the Smithsonian Institution. Even the Library of Congress employs special agents who investigate crimes of fraud committed against the Library.

Federal agents investigate everything robbery to murder to internal fraud, waste and abuse to postal fraud to terrorism. If there is a federal law on the books, there is an agency responsible for investigating violations against it. Because of the great variety of crimes investigated by special agents, many of the specialized agencies are looking for candidates with a specialized knowledge; for example, a person with a background or interest in the environment has no fewer than 10 agencies to choose from. A person who likes to travel could consider a career with the State Department, the Secret Service, the FBI, or even the Peace Corps (just to name a few).

What can you expect if you’re a federal agent? Well, probably not what you see Jack Bauer doing every week. But, like Jack, you will be working long hours investigating some very serious crimes that impact all American citizens. Because of the long hours most federal agents are required to work (a minimum of 50 hours per week), they usually receive Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP), a 25% premium of their base salary, which generally starts at over $50k per year. Expect to be moved around every few years and expect frequent travel. Many agencies, such as the FBI, DEA, ICE, and components of the DOD, now have resident offices in foreign countries. So, if you want to see the world, this may be the path you want to take.

Because of the demand for federal law enforcement jobs, and the high profile cases the agencies are involved in, getting hired is much tougher than at other law enforcement jobs. Even with a military or law enforcement background, most agencies now require a minimum of a four year degree, but would prefer an advanced degree. This means that unless you were in the top percentile in your undergraduate class, you should seriously consider an advanced degree.


+16
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    symbolpeace

    almost 3 years ago

    98 Comments

    difficult to any average guy / gal to consider, pay scale equivalent chances ? existant / non existant ?
    Anonymous
    thought u might have more info

  • Here_and_there_052_max50

    sajimtreacy

    about 3 years ago

    504 Comments

    rbnt72, Yeah, the article was very plain vanilla, and definitely didn't live up to the title. FYI, all the info you asked about can be found at the agencies' web sites, but to answer your questions: anyone applying for the US Government's spots for Series 1811 Investigators (which most agencies' Special Agents fall under) can be no older than 37 at the time they start working for the agency. That said, a number of agencies are now accepting waivers for military people over that age up to, I believe 41--but check the site to be sure. As far as training, there isn't any specific requirement for training, as anyone entering on duty with most of the agencies will be sent for training, either at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in GA, or the FBI Academy or DEA Academy, if they join either of those agencies. What's required to apply is the minimum of a Bachelor's degree, being a US citizen with no disqualifying mental or medical conditions, no excessive history of criminal violations, no younger than age 23 and no older than 37. What's required to be selected is a fair amount more. If this is something you'd like to pursue, check out the web sites and go for it! Good luck...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    This didn't help at all. Age requirements? Training qualifications besides education? Any more information would be nice.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    cora521

    over 3 years ago

    22 Comments

    Find the 2011 new arrival christian louboutin uk on louboutin outlet, which designed by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists.christian louboutin sale Free Worldwide Shipping With No Sales Tax! http://www.louboutinsaleoutlet.com

  • Carlie_s_pictures_4891_max50

    crbarr

    over 3 years ago

    2 Comments

    How does this set anyone on the path of being a Federal Agent? It gives only one instruction; get a graduate degree. I expected more info on the steps to becoming, what kinds of jobs to take besides police, etc, instead I read about what a Federal Agent does, what they make, what kinds there are, what to expect when you are one, etc... Only the very last two statement give any advice on the path to becoming a Federal Agent as the title suggests. This is just information about Federal Agents, not so much about how to get there.

  • Here_and_there_052_max50

    sajimtreacy

    over 3 years ago

    504 Comments

    Lots of interesting responses, some good, some goofy. Having spent 24 years with the FBI, I can assure everyone that I didn't "know anyone" nor were my parents connected, and it wouldn't have mattered if they were. The testing for the FBI (and most of the other federal agencies) is based, initially, on general knowledge/intelligence and then moves to a test of logic and potential investigative competence and includes an oral board. Based on how you do on these tests, you're ranked and, as the agency has classes upcoming and the HR folks decide how many specialty areas they need filled (language, forensics, intelligence, or diversified), a person will be notified that they've been slotted for training at the FBI Academy. The best way to prepare for a Federal career is to do your due diligence: look at the agency websites, and talk with someone at the local agency office (easy as a call to their Applicant Coordinator). Good luck to those interested--my career took me all over the world, working some amazing cases with extremely capable people.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    waljac

    about 5 years ago

    56 Comments

    It is very challenging working for the Federal Agencies, FBI, DEA, ICE, Secret Service, etc., they are very strick, there are standards to measure up to, they use out side sources, consultants etc. in the private sector, but when the move in on their targets, they have their covered, they have the counter measure tools and the resources to back their accomplishments, they are always upgrading and training to keep ahead of the criminals, they know the true value of continuous improvement, because they work at it every day.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Siempre_Thali901

    over 5 years ago

    4 Comments

    Im currently in high school and wanting to be a Federal Agent. What exactly do i need to do to be one once i am out of High School other than go to college. Would i need to major in Psychology or Sociology, or what other things and after i graduate or major what next?

    What exactly do i need to study?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BLUEOFWATER

    almost 6 years ago

    222 Comments

    INSIGHTFULL

  • S532504500_443137_773_max50

    shirzadtoma

    about 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    What can you expect if you’re a federal agent?
    Federal agents investigate everything robbery to murder to internal fraud, waste and abuse to postal fraud to terrorism. If there is a federal law on the books, there is an agency responsible for investigating violations against it. Because of the great variety of crimes investigated by special agents, many of the specialized agencies are looking for candidates with a specialized knowledge; for example, a person with a background or interest in the environment has no fewer than 10 agencies to choose from. A person who likes to travel could consider a career with the State Department, the Secret Service, the FBI, or even the Peace Corps

  • My_site_security_guard__max50

    bosanci28

    over 6 years ago

    6 Comments

    so what scholl do we need to get there? thanks

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    samIam2009

    over 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    good info

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TINGLE

    over 6 years ago

    6 Comments

    I REALLY BELIEVE THAT I WOULD EXCELL MUCH FASTER AT SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF THE INFO LISTED ABOVE ON BEING AN FEDERAL AGENT. I DO WORRY HOWEVER ABOUT THE TIME THAT I MAY BE REQUIRED TO BE AWAY FROM HOME DUE TO THE FACT MY CHILDREN ARE STILL YOUNG. BUT WOULD STILL BE WILLIING TO LISTEN TO ANY AND ALL ASPECTS IN THE FEDERAL AGENT FIELD.

  • 6-8-2007-095_max50

    soberbygod

    over 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    If you have a friend that claims they are s "Special Agent" How do you verify this. Or How do you find out if someone is actually a fraud?

  • Joe_close_up_1_max50

    securityjoe1

    over 6 years ago

    6 Comments

    Informative

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.

Recent Activity

Female_bodysurfer_max30
MarlyB posted in: "my husband just got violated.", 44 minutes ago.
373046_26738651698_2132900450_q_1__max30
SE851 gave a thumbs down to The Article "Stripper mom of missing girl hangs up on cops, says she ‘...", about 1 hour ago.
373046_26738651698_2132900450_q_1__max30
SE851 gave a thumbs up to The Photo "2011-05-16 21.57.25", about 1 hour ago.