How to Become a

FBI Agent

The complete career guide to be a FBI Agent: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $79,620
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -1.2%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Fast Paced Career
    Career Attribute
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

FBI agents work for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and are responsible for investigating crimes and enforcing federal laws. The responsibilities of an FBI agent vary greatly depending on his/her field of specialty, but all roles play a large part in protecting U.S. citizens and upholding federal laws.

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What is a FBI Agent?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in FBI agent roles:

  • Investigate crimes, gather evidence, execute warrants, make arrests, and testify in court
  • Work with individuals across a variety of law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations
  • Analyze evidence in labs as part of investigations and provide documentation on findings
  • Conduct background checks and take fingerprints
  • Prepare and submit paperwork and reports for activities and investigations

A Day in the Life

The role on an FBI agent varies greatly depending on the agent’s specialty, role, and the types of investigations he/she is conducting, so day-to-day tasks will depend on all of those factors. Field agents spend their time investigating crimes and suspected crimes in their assigned areas and may spend their days meeting with sources, investigating crimes, gathering evidence, making arrests, and testifying in court. They may also work with local law enforcement officers and partners to conduct investigations.

FBI agents may also work on specialized teams like the SWAT team or the Hostage Rescue Team. These individuals respond to emergency situations which may include hostages, explosives, and armed suspects. These FBI agents are called in when extreme measures may be required to protect citizens and diffuse dangerous situations. Often, these roles are filled by former military professions and may require the use of snipers and other specialized equipment.

Other FBI agents focus more on analysis and may test evidence in labs, perform language analysis, or monitor and detect networks for cyberterrorism threats. FBI agents in analysis roles may not be required to work in the field and expose themselves to dangerous situations. These professionals may use specialized equipment to gather intelligence and analyze evidence, and they often testify in court to support and explain their findings.

Typical Work Schedule

All FBI agents work for full-time with a regular schedule of 40 hours per week. However, the job is very demanding and usually extends beyond the regular working hours and overtime is common as the public must be protected at all times. Almost all FBI agents actually work more than 50 hours per week. The work schedule is highly variable depending on the chosen career paths an agent follows. Because those investigating cyber criminals may spend most of their time in an office working on a computer, while others may have to spend more time in the field. In addition, much time will be spent analyzing data or other evidence and working with other agents or law enforcement agencies to coordinate investigations. It is also common for FBI agents to work on holidays or weekends. They should also be flexible regarding traveling to other places on short notice and relocating several during the course of their career.

Projected Job Growth

There are around 35,000 FBI agents currently employed in the US. According to the US Beau of Labor Statistics, the number is expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029 which is faster than the average for all the other jobs. The demand is expected to increase because of the desire for public safety especially as more types of crimes and threats to the public appear even if the overall rate of criminal activity decreases. The number of available job opportunities is expected to vary from year to year depending on the government spending policy of each year. This job however is expected to have high competition due to the low rate of turnover which means that certain qualities must exist to give you an edge in this field. A bachelor’s degree will be a must but much more is also needed. You may need to have past experience will be a preferred quality whether in law enforcement or the army as well as investigative experience. Depending on the chosen career path, agents may be required to have more certifications.

FBI Agent Specializations

FBI agents work for the federal government as part of the Federal bureau of investigation. This includes working for many career paths available in the bureau which you can choose from.

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How To Become a FBI Agent

The process of becoming an FBI agent takes a long time, and there is extreme competition in the field. The first step in becoming an FBI agent is to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field. For example, field agents may pursue degrees in criminal justice or criminology, while cybersecurity agents may need degrees in information technology or information systems. For other agent roles, degrees in science, languages, psychology, or law may be more appropriate. The degree pursued should be relevant to the program you hope to specialize in as an FBI agent.

FBI agent applicants must be between the ages of 23 and 37. However, waivers may be provided for individuals older than 37 for military veterans only. Most specializations will require experience in the field, which could vary widely based on specialization. For example, some agents may need to have military experience while other may need to work in a lab, as a police officer, or as a lawyer prior to applying for FBI agent positions.

With a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience, individuals between the ages of 23 and 37 may be eligible to apply for FBI agent positions. The application process will vary depending on field of specialty. Applicants begin by applying for open roles. If qualified, they’ll move on to a series of tests that are designed to identify an applicant’s knowledge and abilities. After passing tests, they’ll then need to pass background checks, medical examinations, and physical fitness tests. Only the most impressive candidates are admitted into training programs after all tests have been completed.

FBI Agent Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do FBI Agent salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, FBI Agent's can make an average annual salary of $79,620, or $38 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $53,810 or $26 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #143 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a FBI Agent. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among FBI Agents

  • 2.3%   Doctorate
  • 13.1%   Masters
  • 41.8%   Bachelors
  • 12.3%   Associates
  • 22.9%   College
  • 7.2%   High School
  • 0.4%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does FBI Agent job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -1,400 jobs for a total of 115,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -1.2% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #640 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most FBI Agents

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 48,500 2,700 3%
Federal government, excluding postal service 45,500 -4,400 -4%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 21,300 400 0%

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