Much More Than a Job
The mission of the FBI is to protect the American people. Special Agents enforce over 300 federal statutes and conduct criminal and national security investigations.
Special Agents possessing a broad range of education, experiences, and skills are needed for the FBI to be successful. For example, you may be asked to utilize foreign language skills to interview a victim of human trafficking, computer skills to decipher malicious code, accounting skills to uncover hidden assets, or communication and collaboration skills to lead a joint agency investigation.
Becoming a Special Agent Takes Dedication
The Special Agent Selection System (SASS) is a mentally and physically challenging process designed to find only the most capable applicants. Those who make it through the process become part of an elite team that keeps our country safe.
The FBI Special Agent (SA) position requires significant commitment and dedication. SAs must:
- Adhere to strict standards of conduct, especially in maintaining honesty and integrity.
- Be available for worldwide assignment on either a temporary or a long-term basis.
- Work a minimum of 50 hours per week, which may include odd hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends.
- Maintain a high-level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.
- Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.
- Be willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments, all of which pose the risk of personal bodily harm.
FBI Employment Requirements for All Positions
- Must be a U.S. Citizen.
- Must be able to obtain a Top Secret-SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance.
- Must be in compliance with the FBI Drug Policy.
See the full list of FBI employment requirements.
Employment Requirements for the Special Agent Position
To be eligible for the FBI Special Agent position, applicants must meet the following minimum qualifications at the time of application:
Be between 23 and 37 years of age.
Special Agents must apply prior to their 36th birthday, and must be appointed and assigned to the FBI Academy no later than the month of their 37th birthday to achieve 20 years of service prior to the mandatory retirement age of 57. The FBI may disqualify applicants at any time if it is determined that they will reach age 37 before appointment.
- Have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a US-accredited college or university.
- Have at least three years of full-time professional work experience.
- Possess a valid driver's license and six months of driving experience.
- Meet the Special Agent physical fitness standards (see Physical Requirements below).
- Be available to report to one of the FBI’s 56 field offices for interviews and testing several times throughout the application process. You are responsible for your own travel to and from the field office. Applicants who reside overseas must be available for travel to the U.S. for testing and processing at an FBI field office at your own expense; you may choose a field office that is most convenient for you.
- If you are currently on active duty in the military, you must be within one (1) year of completing your service before submitting your application.
FBI Special Agents are required to adhere to strict standards of conduct and exemplify the FBI’s Core Competencies listed below. The application’s open-ended questions are designed to show how your background demonstrates these competencies. As such, you are STRONGLY encouraged to provide as much information as possible, and use the Situation, Action, Result format to describe the situation, the actions you took, and the resulting outcomes.
- Organizing and Planning
- Problem Solving/Judgment
Please click here for the definitions of the FBI Core Competencies.
Why Fitness Matters
Special Agents must be mentally and physically prepared for their work. The FBI requires every applicant to pass the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and meet vision and hearing requirements.
The Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
The PFT consists of four events in the following order, with no more than five minutes of rest between events. A passing score requires a cumulative 12 points, with at least 1 point in each event:
- SIT-UPS: Maximum number of continuous sit-ups in one minute.
- SPRINT: Timed 300-meter sprint.
- PUSH-UPS: Maximum number of continuous push-ups (untimed).
- RUN: Timed 1.5 mile run.
Watch our Video on Correct Techniques for the PFT.
Failing the Physical Fitness Test
Applicants are offered three opportunities to pass the official PFT within one year after passing Phase II. If the applicant failed his or her initial post-Phase II PFT, the applicant’s remaining PFT opportunities will be scheduled at any time that is mutually agreeable to the applicant, applicant coordinator and/or the physical fitness advisor. Applicants who do not pass the PFT within the one-year time limit will be deactivated and are no longer eligible for the Special Agent position.
Vision and Hearing Requirements
Applicants also must meet all FBI vision and hearing requirements. Review details here in the All You Need to Know to Apply guide.
The Medical Review
During the application process, each applicant’s medical history is thoroughly reviewed. Applicants may provide medical information from their personal physicians. However, the FBI Chief Medical Officer will make the final decision based on knowledge of the demands of the position and each applicant’s medical documentation.
The FBI is committed to treating all applicants fairly and equitably in all aspects of the selection process.
The Application Process
The Special Agent Selection System (SASS) is designed to identify the best candidates to become FBI Special Agents. The process typically takes one year or longer to complete.
Watch our Video on the Special Agent Selection Process and Core Competencies.
The FBI does not endorse any test preparation materials beyond what can be found on FBIJobs.gov. Please download the Testing Overview for more information.
Required Documents and Information
REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION FOR YOUR APPLICATION
Please review all of the items below. Your application will not be processed until you have provided all of the required documentation.
For all Special Agent applicants:
- Unofficial college transcript(s)
- Federal Resume Template - Applicants should ensure their resume reflects this template and meets the guidelines outlined in the Federal Resume Guide.
For applicants with current or prior federal work experience:
- SF-50 - Notification of Personnel Action
For current or former members of the armed forces (one of the following):
- DD-214, Member 4 copy or Service 2 copy
- Statement of Service
- DD-214, Member 4 copy or Service 2 copy
For disabled veterans:
- DD-214, Member 4 copy or Service 2 copy
- VA letter, dated within one year
- SF-15 (optional)
Please Note: When scanning and uploading your document(s), make sure that all pages are readable and facing upright in the same direction. DO NOT upload any picture files (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP).
Other Opportunities for Special Agents
The Elite Tactical Units of the FBI
As a Special Agent, you have an opportunity to join specific, mission-centric units. Intensely trained, specially equipped and always prepared — these are tight-knit teams of Agents who volunteer to respond to complex, critical and urgent challenges. These teams include:
- Hostage Rescue Team (HRT)
- Special Agent Bomb Tech Program (SABT)
- Evidence Response Team (ERT)
- Technically Trained Agent (TTA) Program
- Operational Medic Program
The FBI is always seeking applicants with special qualifications to become Special Agents and, ultimately, to serve on each of these teams. Agents with specialized medical, technical, and scientific skills can become part of the Operational Medic, Technically Trained Agent, and Evidence Response Teams.
The Hostage Rescue Team, SABT team, and SWAT teams require Special Agents to meet the requirements of the Tactical Recruitment Program (TRP). The TRP is open to candidates with extensive tactical experience. Applicants who pass the Phase I test may also have an interview with the HRT personnel to verify tactical qualifications.
TRP candidates must understand that they are applying for the Special Agent position first and must gain several years of FBI investigative experience before receiving a transfer to a specialized team. Candidates must compete for a place on these teams, and may have to participate in specialized training programs in order to fulfill these roles.
How do I apply to become a Special Agent?
View the Application Process tab.
What are the preliminary standards for the Special Agent position?
Applicants to the Special Agent position must meet all requirements outlined on our Eligibility page, as well as those outlined in the Eligibility tab on this page.
Are waivers available for applicants 37 and older?
Per Public Law 93-350, enacted July 12, 1974, the Attorney General and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) set the date immediately preceding one’s 37th birthday as the last date for original entry on duty as a law enforcement officer in the Department of Justice.
Waivers are available for preference-eligible veterans who have been discharged or released from active duty from the Armed Forces under honorable conditions (honorable or general discharge). The Member 4 copy of the DD-214, and in the case of service-connected disabilities, a copy of the SF-15 “Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference,” as well as other applicable documentation to confirm veteran’s preference eligibility, must be submitted at the time of application.
Military retirees at the rank of Major, Lieutenant Commander or higher are not eligible for preference in appointment unless they are disabled veterans. This does not apply to Reservists who will not begin drawing military retired pay until age 60.
Age waivers for preference-eligible veterans will be requested only after they successfully complete all phases of the SASS and have been favorably adjudicated/cleared for hire. Preference-eligible applicants must still pass all other components of the SASS, including the PFT and fitness for-for-duty requirements.
More information can be found on our Veterans page.
Is there a waiver of the Bachelor's degree if an applicant has military service?
No. All Special Agent applicants must have a minimum of a U.S. accredited bachelor’s degree or advanced degree.
Will having uncorrected vision or laser surgery disqualify me from applying for the Special Agent position?
Special Agent applicants need to have at least 20/20 vision in one eye and not worse than 20/40 vision in the other eye. If an individual has a satisfactory history of wearing soft contact lenses for more than one year and is able to meet correction to 20/20 in one eye and no worse than 20/40 in the other eye, safety concerns are considered mitigated and applicant processing may continue.
If an applicant has had laser eye corrective surgery, a six-month waiting period is required prior to beginning New Agent Training. Applicants must also provide evidence of complete healing by an ophthalmological clinical evaluation.
The policy for color vision allows continuation of applicant processing if those who fail initial color vision screening are able to successfully complete the Farnsworth D-15 color vision test.
How long does the FBI Special Agent application process take?
The Special Agent application process generally takes at least one year and often longer, depending upon annual federal funding levels and hiring goals.
The Special Agent Selection System (Phase I and Phase II Testing) is based on an applicant’s individual competitiveness.
In addition to the Phase I and II testing process, the physical fitness test, background investigation and medical evaluation will affect the length of the application process. Each of these items can take a considerable amount of time to complete if an applicant has lived in several areas, has extensive foreign travel or has held several jobs.
What kind of training do FBI Special Agents receive?
All Special Agents begin the first 21 weeks of their career at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, where they participate in intensive training. During their time at the FBI Academy, trainees live on campus, participate in a variety of training activities and study a wide variety of academic subjects. The FBI Academy curriculum also includes intensive training in physical fitness, defensive tactics, practical application exercises and the use of firearms.
Over the course of an Agent's career, the FBI provides additional training opportunities to keep him/her updated on the latest developments in the respective specialty fields.
For more information on the FBI Academy, click here.
Do I need to have a law enforcement or military background to apply to become an FBI Special Agent? Are certain degrees more desired by the FBI?
A law enforcement or military background is not required. Because of the breadth and scope of the FBI’s mission, the FBI seeks candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds, not just law enforcement or military experience. The FBI seeks Special Agents with degrees/expertise in physical sciences, computer science, engineering, architecture, law, accounting and other disciplines that require logical analysis and critical thinking. We are also actively seeking Special Agents who are fluent in critical foreign languages, as well as those with experience in intelligence and counterterrorism work. Study a field you enjoy, and after that obtain experiences that will demonstrate your ability to master the Special Agent core competencies, specifically:
- Organizing and Planning
- Problem Solving/Judgment
Do I have to know how to shoot a gun to apply to be an FBI Special Agent?
No, it is not necessary to have prior experience with firearms. All Special Agent trainees receive extensive training in the use and maintenance of firearms and related equipment. In many cases, the best Agent trainees are those with no prior firearms experience (since they do not have any ingrained habits).
What are the physical fitness requirements to become an FBI Special Agent?
Serving as an FBI Special Agent is demanding. A Special Agent is often placed in situations that test a person’s physical capabilities. Therefore, all applicants for the Special Agent position must be in excellent physical condition with no disabilities that could interfere with firearm use, raids or defensive tactics. Learn more by viewing the Physical Requirements section.
Are there different physical fitness requirements for women and men?
Although female applicants/trainees take exactly the same Physical Fitness Test as their male counterparts, the scoring scale for each event is slightly different in order to account for physiological differences. Learn more by viewing the Physical Requirements.
How are Special Agents assigned to offices, and how often are Special Agents rotated in their assignments?
Newly appointed Special Agents are assigned to one of the FBI’s 56 field offices or resident agencies based on the Bureau’s current staffing and/or critical specialty needs. New Special Agents are given an opportunity to rank their desired locations. While consideration is given to these preferences, first office assignment is based upon the staffing needs of the FBI. All Special Agents are subject to transfer at any time to meet the organizational and program needs of the FBI. Special Agents accept the possibility of transfer as a condition of their employment.
New Special Agents initially assigned to a small- or medium-sized field office are often transferred to a large field office at the end of their third or fourth year. New agents initially assigned to a large field office will generally not be transferred unless they apply for management positions, are eligible for a voluntary transfer or the needs of the FBI dictate otherwise. Be sure your family understands this requirement and is accepting of a move.
What is a typical day like for a Special Agent of the FBI?
There is no such thing as a typical day for a Special Agent. One day you could be executing a search warrant and making an arrest, while the next you could be testifying in court. Your morning could entail catching up on paperwork in the office, while the afternoon could bring a meeting with a high-level source. No two days are ever the same for an FBI Special Agent.
How does the background investigation process work?
Due to the sensitive nature of the FBI’s missions, all FBI positions require a Top Secret (TS) Security Clearance. Before employees can start work with the FBI, they must undergo an intensive background investigation that includes a polygraph, a drug test, credit and records checks and extensive interviews with former and current colleagues, neighbors, friends, professors, etc., covering the last 10 years or from their 18th birthday.
Are there any automatic disqualifiers?
Yes. Learn more here: FBI Automatic Disqualifiers.
How much are FBI Special Agents paid
All new FBI Special Agents will earn salaries at the GL-10 [Special Base Rate for LEOs] pay grade. Applicants with no prior government service will earn a salary at the GL-10, step 1 pay level. Applicants with prior government service (including FBI professional staff) may be eligible to receive higher steps that are commensurate with their highest previous pay, but they will not enter at higher grades.
During the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC), New Agent Trainees (NATs) will earn GL-10 salaries, plus locality pay for the Washington, D.C. area, plus availability pay (AVP), which is 25 percent of their basic pay (base plus locality). Upon graduation from BFTC and assignment to their first field offices, new SAs will be paid at the GL-10 pay level, plus the locality pay that applies to their first offices of assignment, plus AVP. The OPM’s website contains current salary tables to allow employees to determine the locality pay rates for various areas of the country. Part-time Special Agents do not receive availability pay.
As an FBI employee, a Special Agent also receives a variety of benefits, including group health and life insurance programs, vacation and sick pay and a full retirement plan.
How will having a family affect my career as an FBI Special Agent?
The FBI has several programs designed to help employees meet both their family and career goals. In addition to our normal annual and sick leave benefits, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act permits employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave without pay for medical exigencies, including the birth or adoption of a child.
The FBI also offers a part-time program for Special Agents (agents must have completed the probationary period). This program allows an agent to work between 16 and 32 hours a week, providing extra flexibility to parents. In most instances, the part-time agent’s revised work assignment will be determined in such a manner that appropriate consideration is given by the Division Head to the agent’s level of investigative experience, specialized assignments, GS grade, other pertinent skills and the needs of the division.
What are the opportunities for promotions and pay increases?
Special Agents enter as GL-10 employees on the law enforcement government pay scale and can advance to the GS-13 grade level in a field, non-supervisory role. Special Agents can thereafter qualify for promotion to supervisory, management and executive positions to grades GS-14 and GS-15, as well as to the FBI Senior Executive Service.
I want to be an FBI “Profiler.” Where do I begin the application process?
The FBI does not have a job called “Profiler.” Supervisory Special Agents assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) at Quantico, VA, perform the tasks commonly associated with “profiling.” Despite some popular depictions, these FBI Special Agents do not get “vibes” or experience “psychic flashes” while walking around fresh crime scenes. In reality, it is an exciting world of investigation and research — a world of inductive and deductive reasoning, crime-solving experience and knowledge of criminal behavior, facts, and statistical probabilities.