If you’ve watched movies or TV shows about FBI agents -- and who hasn’t? -- then you’ve probably been seduced by the excitement of the job, and you’ve forgotten all about the education that all FBI agents need. Before you decide to commit to becoming an FBI agent, make sure you’re ready to commit to the education the job requires.
The nature of FBI work is so dynamic that it almost defies description. As an FBI special agent, you’ll be conducting sensitive national security investigations, but the nature of these investigations can be remarkably varied. Depending on your specialization, you may find yourself investigating corruption, bank robbery, kidnapping, foreign counterintelligence, terrorism, drug trafficking, or civil rights violations. But whatever you investigate, you will have committed to upholding the law, and to fulfilling the priorities of the FBI.
Before you worry about whether you meet the educational requirements to become an FBI agent, you’ll want to make sure that you meet the general requirements. To become an FBI officer, you have to be an American citizen or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands. Check? You also have to be over 23 years of age. Check? You also have to be under 37 years of age. Check? You also have to have a driver’s license. Check? You also have to have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university. Check? Now we can talk about the specifics of that degree.
There are five Special Agent Entry programs. Those programs are Accounting, Computer Science/Information Technology, Language, Law, and Diversified. To enter the accounting stream, you’ll need to have a minimum of a four-year accounting degree. To enter Computer Science/Information Technology, you’ll need to have a degree in computer or information technology, or an electrical engineering degree; or, if you have a Cisco Certified Network Professional certification or Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert certification, you can have a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in anything. To enter the law stream, you’ll need to have a JD from any accredited law school. And to enter the diversified stream, you’ll need to have at least a BS or a BA in any discipline.
You’ll need more than a piece of paper to get into the FBI program -- you’ll need to demonstrate that you have skills, whether you got those skills in school or not. The FBI prioritizes some skills more than others. If you have the following critical skills, you may find yourself near the top of their recruitment list: accounting, finance, computer science/information technology expertise, foreign language proficiency, intelligence experience, law experience, law enforcement/investigative experience, military experience, physical sciences expertise, and diversified experience.
Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.