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How Do You Work For The FBI

By David Krug 7 minute read

Popular media portrayals of secret agents, spies, and criminal profilers have shaped public perceptions of these professions. A job with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) may be something you’ve thought about, but you may be unsure about the advantages and disadvantages of such a career path.

The advantages of being an FBI agent may outweigh the disadvantages for certain individuals. Other candidates, on the other hand, may not believe working for the FBI is “cool” because of what they see in movies and on television about the true duties of a Special Agent.

You should keep in mind that working for the FBI is more like a calling than a job while deciding whether or not to join the agency. For example, if you’re considering applying for an FBI position, you may want to think about what variables and conditions you desire and don’t want in your work environment.

What It’s Like to Work for the FBI

While the antics of FBI agents frequently appear in films and television shows, the reality of FBI jobs is less dramatic. That’s excellent and horrible at the same time. Real-life FBI job involve a lot more paperwork than is depicted in the movies, which may not appeal to individuals who are drawn to the vocation for the thrill of action in the field.

Even in tight situations, FBI agents have told Business Insider that they are significantly less terrified of real lives than they are in the movies. Many of the benefits and drawbacks of working with the FBI are more a question of personal taste and point of view than of objective merit.

To be an FBI Agent, you’ll have to travel 20% to 30% of the time, which doesn’t work with your personality and priorities, if it’s anything that bothers you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy seeing new locations and wouldn’t mind the chance to travel for business, you could see this as a perk rather than a disadvantage. Not to suggest that the FBI Special Agents aren’t in danger, but the threats are often over-dramatized in the movies and television.

As an FBI agent, you may expect that every day will be different from the last. It’s understandable that if you’re a creature of habit, the inconsistencies of the workplace might cause you stress. This radical shift in speed isn’t something you’ll encounter in just any job, but if you love variation in your work and find it thrilling rather than depressing, you could enjoy it.

Advantages of Working for the FBI

Starting with the positives is a good idea. With the FBI, you may feel good about your job because you’re making a difference in national security, while still earning a good salary and receiving a generous package of benefits.

Job Contentment of FBI Agents

Those having the personality to serve as an FBI Agent are likely to experience a high level of work satisfaction. According to NBC News, FBI agents reported an improvement in work satisfaction in 2019. This rise in work satisfaction was matched by an increase in FBI job applications, the first in three years.

Salary Potential for FBI Agents

The FBI is a great place to work if you’re looking to make a lot of money, but how much you’ll earn depends on your exact job description. Those who work in law enforcement are likely to earn more than those who work in state or municipal law enforcement agencies.

In 2020, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a national median income of $67,290 for all police and detective professions, while a federal government median compensation of $92,080 was recorded.

Aspiring FBI Special Agents will be happy to hear this, as their beginning salary falls inside the federal GL-10 Special Base Rate pay grade, which is tailored to the criminal justice industry. Pay for FBI Special Agents in the GL-10 level ranged from $52,440 to $67,668 per year as of 2021, with the least experienced agents starting at $52,440. As an FBI Special Agent progresses through the ranks, he or she can earn up to $103,309 per year in field assignments that do not entail supervisory responsibilities.

The GS-15 pay grade is open to Special Agents who aspire to move into management roles, with yearly compensation starting at $110,460 and rising to $143,598.

Packages of FBI Special Agent Benefits

Employees of the FBI are entitled to a comprehensive benefits package in addition to a competitive wage. All federal employee benefits programs, including health insurance, life insurance, and retirement savings accounts, are available to them.

Additional incentives for FBI employees include up to $10,000 per year in student loan repayments, transit subsidies for employees who use public transportation to go to work, and tuition reimbursements for employees who pursue post-secondary education leading to a degree or certificate. Sick leave, accumulated personal leave, 10 paid federal holidays, and designated military leave are all paid leave options for FBI employees.

Even if you have years of expertise in your area and are currently earning a good salary, you may not find many profitable job prospects at the FBI if you come from a non-law enforcement background and are looking for a specialized career path.

Working with the FBI is a way of life, not just a job

The desire to serve your nation is a crucial component in seeking a career with the FBI. In order to carry out the agency’s responsibilities of safeguarding national security and enforcing federal law, FBI agents, particularly Special Agents, travel where they are needed and execute the job that is required. Flexibility isn’t enough in this line of work.

A strong feeling of patriotism and a desire to serve are essential. There is no clear conclusion to the workday in a career with the FBI, so you can’t tell your coworkers or family about what you’ve accomplished. Due to the sensitivity of the investigations conducted by the FBI, only those candidates who are eligible to get a Top Secret security clearance are allowed to work there.

In the event of an impending national security danger or a major, time-sensitive break in the investigation of a horrific crime that requires immediate attention, you are not allowed to clock out at the end of the workday and wait until the following weekday to deal with the issue. One of the most important responsibilities of an FBI Special Agent is a commitment to work at least 50 hours a week and to be available for emergencies at all times.

While this isn’t always a bad thing, it’s something you should keep in mind when you’re considering a career in the FBI. In order to be an FBI Agent, you must have a deep desire to live the life of a spy. Even if you get the job, it’s improbable that you’ll love it or do well at it. Burnout and a lack of fulfillment are likely to set in if you frequently find yourself juggling job and personal life.

When it comes to joining the FBI, if you’re up for a stressful but rewarding lifestyle, you’ll find yourself in excellent company among like-minded law enforcement officials who put their nation first.

Cons of Working for the FBI

The work is far from perfect, of course. In many ways, working for the FBI is a disadvantage because of the difficulties of obtaining into the bureau. Police officer and detective candidates, for example, are needed to have a bachelor’s degree in high school, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

However, in order to become an FBI Special Agent, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree. In order to do so, you’ll require a college degree that you may not need in other law enforcement agency for at least four years. To get a job, you’ll typically require a few years of relevant work experience.

Getting a job with the FBI requires more than a college diploma. Before being placed in an FBI position, each applicant must go through an eight-step application procedure. To obtain a Top Secret security clearance, one must undergo a thorough background investigation. In addition, you will need to be physically fit to compete. Timed 1.5-mile and 300-meter sprints are part of the physical fitness exam. You must also perform the maximum amount of pull-ups, push-ups, and one-minute sit-ups.

As soon as you’re employed by the FBI, you’ll also need to undergo extensive training. For the first 20 weeks of their careers as FBI Special Agents, all new recruits must report to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and reside on campus.

Additionally, as part of your application and terms of employment with the FBI you agree to a mobility agreement that allows the bureau to relocate you anywhere it wants you. The necessity that you be open to relocation may be the largest negative of FBI employment if you have strong links to a single place and need to stay local for reasons like closeness to family, a partner’s career, schools for your children or other reasons.

However, according to the FBI, “once assigned to a Field Office, new Special Agents are normally not reassigned” except in rare situations. If the Bureau’s vital needs are not met, then this might lead to a transfer at this early stage. Special Agents can be transferred to other locations for a variety of reasons, including a desire to take on managerial responsibilities elsewhere or to request a voluntary transfer from their current Field Office location.

There are other inherent dangers that an FBI employee acknowledges by entering the agency, such as working as a Special Agent and other law enforcement responsibilities.

Pros and Cons of FBI Agent

Many of the pros and cons of working with the FBI can be interpreted in a variety of ways because of this. Many job seekers dream of a profession in which no two days are the same and where they may be summoned at a moment’s notice to travel across the globe.

The lack of structure and predictability may be cited as a reason for another candidate’s resignation, as could the inconvenience of arranging childcare and having to leave the family at short notice. Career goals, personal and professional priorities, and personality types all play a part in the decision to join the FBI.

FBI Agents are required to possess leadership talents, interpersonal communication and teamwork skills, self-initiative, organizational and problem-solving skills, and the flexibility needed to swiftly and successfully adjust to change.

David Krug

Author