An FBI agent is expected to be the best in his field. A solid GPA in high school and a slew of selective college courses can ensure you arrive at your goal of becoming an agent with a solid set of FBI skills in your tool kit.

There are a few required classes a hopeful FBI agent needs to successfully complete. These include humanities, math, science, statistics and biology, depending on the area in which one intends to focus as an agent. In order to be considered to join this elite arm of the government, you need to have a few pieces in place before you apply.

FBI Education Requirements

Aside from being a U.S. citizen or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands, an FBI candidate needs to be older than 23 and younger than 37 years of age. Those who have served in the military can seek a veterans' waiver if they fall short or long of these age cutoffs.

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You will need a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college. The better your grades, the better your chances of slipping into the selective annual group of agents who gain entry to the FBI training program. A valid driver’s license from your home state and a resume with three years of professional work in the civil sector, military or both rounds out the basic things you will need to apply to the FBI.

An FBI special agent salary has an average base pay of around $130,000. Bonuses can run from an extra $20,000 to $50,000 annually.

FBI Entry Program Qualifications

There are five special agent entry programs. The FBI skills you have gained at school and in the workplace can be used to narrow your focus. Entry programs are:

  • Accounting
  • Computer science and information technology
  • Diversified
  • Language
  • Law

An FBI candidate needs to meet the qualifications to be accepted into one of these FBI entry programs.

Accounting and Computer Science/IT Entry Programs

To gain entry to the accounting entry program, you must hold a CPA certification and a four-year accounting degree or have a minimum of three years of experience in an accounting capacity. Those seeking entry to the computer science or information technology entry program need a bachelor’s degree in an IT discipline and a Cisco Certified Network Professional certification or Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert certification before applying.

Language Requirements for Entry Programs

Language agents need a four-year degree in a critical foreign language that is specified by the FBI. These include:

  • Spanish
  • Russian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • Japanese
  • Punjabi
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Hebrew
  • Farsi
  • Korean
  • Pashtu

To qualify, they need to be proficient in their chosen language. They should be able to write, speak, translate and read fluently in their chosen language before they will be considered for the entry program.

Diversified and Law Entry Program Requirements

Diversified candidates need a bachelor’s degree. It can be from any major, not just criminal justice or another related subject, paired with a minimum of three years of experience in the workplace. A master’s degree, J.D. or Ph.D. degree with two years of professional experience will also suffice. If you are applying to the law entry program, you will need a J.D. degree from an accredited law school.

How the FBI Selects Applicants

Submit a resume online at FBIJobs.gov to start the process. Once the resume is approved, potential candidates will undergo a battery of written tests to assess their competency in a wide range of areas and on many levels.

The second round of testing for candidates includes more written tests and interviews. This is where the pool of applicants will truly begin to shrink. A final physical fitness test and intensive background and security check finishes off the application process. Those who can’t withstand the rigorous physical test and thorough background investigation will be asked to leave.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.