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So, You Want to Work for the FBI?
If you are currently pursuing your criminal justice degree or even pursuing a something as seemingly irrelevant as your master of health administration degree, or something entirely different altogether, you may not realize that there are exciting job opportunities available to you in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
While the FBI often seems like it’s strictly populated with special agents who work in the field tracking hardened criminals, this reputation is fostered by popular media, including television programs and movies. In reality, the FBI is one of the largest government organizations and employs a large number of skilled professionals in a wide variety of capacities, beyond the position of field agent. If you have skills in criminal justice, information technology, the healthcare field, administration, finance and accounting, and other areas, there may be a great career waiting for you with the FBI.
The Twofold Path
There are two basic career paths within the FBI. The first is, of course, the most visible career path – that of the “special agent.” The other career path is both broader and less well-known – that of “professional staff.” Of course, special agents with the FBI do come in from different backgrounds and all walks of life, and if you are interested in a job as a special agent, as long as you can demonstrate some degree of special skill in the five main target areas of accounting, computer science or information technology, law, language, or what is called “diversified,” you have already passed the preliminary qualifications.
Next, you will be screened further based on a longer list of critically needed or highly desirable skill sets that the FBI is currently searching for in agent candidates. This list can change from time to time but it’s always available for you to view from the FBI website. If you still fit the bill in terms of your skills, you will then need to pass the FBI special agent fitness test. This test will include meeting strict hearing, vision, and physical fitness requirements through a variety of tests; only a portion of the fitness tests allow for retakes.
Once you have taken and passed all aspects of the physical fitness pre-screening tests, the FBI will conduct a thorough background check on you with an eye towards determining if it is advisable to offer you top secret clearance. You will have to take a polygraph (lie detector) test and other tests as well. Once you have met all of these requirements, only then will you be issued the clearance you need and admitted to FBI training classes in Quantico, Virginia.
Ability to Specialize
If you favor working for the FBI on their professional staff, you have a number of different options for areas of specialization, including linguistics, intelligence analysis, information technology, applied science, engineering and technology, FBI police, business management, human resources, investigative support and surveillance, and other opportunities.
You will not be required to pass the rigorous fitness tests that special agents have to pass, but you will still need to pass the extensive FBI background check in order to obtain your security clearance. You may work in different areas of the country, depending on your skill set and the type of job you are doing. Of course, there are likely to be a greater number of open job postings in the D.C. area than in any other area of the country because that’s where the FBI is headquartered.
Where Else You Can Go
Working for the FBI can also open doors to other types of careers, including other governmental careers such as a career in the Secret Service, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and other organizations. You can also translate the skills you learn working for the FBI into civilian careers as well, including law enforcement, training and management, information technology, accounting and finance, and other career paths.
Working for the FBI is not a career that most candidates transition into quickly, owing to the rigorous pre-screening that is required. But it is one of the most exciting careers you can have and your resume will be greatly enhanced for any amount of time you spend working with this respected organization, whether you plan to make it a permanent career or not.
Joey Archer is currently enrolled in a criminal justice graduate program. His dream job is working for the Secret Service.
Image Credit: Shutterstock