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How Do I Become a Federal Agent?

Becoming a federal agent requires a combination of education and experience in specific fields. Planning ahead to become a federal agent will allow you to get the education and experience and develop the skills and contacts that you need to get started in this exciting field.

The minimum qualifications for starting work as an federal agents are that you need to be between 23 and 37 years of age, have a bachelor’s degree and have three years of professional work experience. Potential agents must also possess a valid driver’s license and be willing to relocate anywhere that the FBI has jurisdiction.

Education and Specialties
A degree in just any topic won’t get you into the FBI. The five areas of specialization in which agents are hired are accounting, computer science, law, foreign language and diversified. The FBI maintains a list of what languages qualify and other specifics. For example, those who specialize in law will need a law degree while accountants will need to either be CPAs or have extensive professional experience. This is known as the Special Agent Entry Program.

Work Experience
The chances for being hired increase greatly for candidates who possess one or more of the critical skills the FBI is in search of. These skills vary and include such things as degrees in engineering, architecture, physics or biology or work experience in areas such as the military, intelligence or law enforcement. Proficiency in in-demand languages such as Urdu or Farsi or certifications like that of a Certified Fraud Examiner are all things that will put a candidate ahead of the competition.

Making an Education and Career Plan
Because becoming a federal agent is so competitive and the requirements are so specific, understanding the specialties and the paths to getting hired as early as possible is crucial. For example, a person may graduate with a degree in finance and spend several years as an auditor with an eye to applying for the FBI after a certain amount of time. The good news is that the FBI provides clear road maps as to the types of experience and education that the agency is looking for.

Physical Fitness
It’s also necessary for agents to become physically fit. The FBI maintains information on the level of fitness required. Both men and women candidates must be able to do a sufficient number of push-ups and sit-ups as well as demonstrating an ability to sprint and run a short distance.

How to Apply
Candidates can start the process by applying online. It’s then necessary to pass through two testing phases. A background check and medical examination are also necessary for final clearance and admission to the academy. Applicants who clear all of the hurdles will spend about 21 weeks living on-campus at the Quantico facility and participating in a rigorous training program. Those who graduate successfully will begin their careers as FBI agents.

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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