Careers in Surveillance
To keep the nation safe and take on both domestic and international threats, the FBI relies on a constant stream of intelligence gathered by a team of surveillance professionals.
Surveillance professionals work alongside case agents to discreetly gather intelligence in support of ongoing counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and criminal investigations.
Because of the nature of their work, candidates interested in pursuing a surveillance career must be comfortable in the following situations:
- Traveling domestically on both operational and training missions
- Working in a team environment outside of a typical, ordinary office setting
- Working nights and weekends as necessary
- Adapting to an ever-changing work environment
- Working with photography and other electronic equipment
Surveillance professionals can practice either mobile surveillance or fixed surveillance.
- Mobile surveillance entails gathering intelligence and following subjects on foot, in a vehicle, on public transportation, or otherwise as needed.
- Fixed surveillance entails gathering intelligence in an office or indoor setting using technical equipment.
FBI surveillance professionals must be willing and able to work in both environments.
To apply, candidates interested in mobile surveillance should submit their applications to the Investigative Specialist position. Candidates interested in fixed surveillance should submit their applications to the Surveillance Specialist position. Keep in mind the positions may not always be available. Please check back regularly to view open positions.
Duties and Qualifications
Surveillance Duties and Qualifications
FBI surveillance professionals are generally responsible for, but not limited to, the following duties:
- Conducting physical and electronic surveillance related to the Foreign Counterintelligence (FCI) and Counterterrorism functions of the FBI.
- Photographing cars, subjects, and establishments, and using discretion in order not to arouse the suspicion of the subjects or others who are in the general area at the time.
- Collecting and documenting information related to the identification of targets and related subjects.
- Being assigned to cases that may extend for months and require considerable familiarity with the subject(s).
- Training in covert techniques.
- Enabling follow-up activities as needed to support investigations.
- Documenting activities of targets without detection and preparing detailed record logs showing data as to times, places, physical conditions and related information.
Candidates interested in surveillance careers must meet the following qualifications:
- Willingness to relocate to any field office within the FBI.
- Readiness to travel frequently to fulfill duty assignments.
- Willing and medically able to accept assignments indoors, outdoors and in a wide range of weather conditions and situations.
- Available to work nights, weekends, holidays, odd hours and extended shifts as deemed necessary.
- Ability to exhibit considerable patience.
- Detailed observation abilities.
- Ability to appropriately respond to unfolding situations and think quickly on your feet.
- Strong analytical abilities, communication skills and writing skills.
- Exceptional attention to detail at all times and remaining attentive throughout long periods of inactivity.
- Ability to blend seamlessly into a crowd to observe subjects.
- Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.
- A valid driver’s license for the state in which the candidate resides.
- Experience working with photography and other electronic equipment.
In addition to the above qualifications, surveillance applicants must also meet the FBI’s employment eligibility requirements and undergo a thorough FBI background investigation.
Hired surveillance candidates must successfully complete a nine-week training class at the FBI Academy, plus satisfactorily complete a defensive driving course.
Successful candidates for surveillance roles must have 20/20 corrected vision in one eye and no less than 20/40 in the other eye. In addition to a color vision test, the candidate must also pass a hearing exam.
Candidates’ past medical history will also be reviewed for any significant medical conditions that could preclude or limit an applicant’s ability to fulfill the requirements of the position. These preexisting medical conditions may include, but are not limited to, seizure disorder, uncontrolled diabetes (with or without insulin dependency), cardiac problems, active communicable diseases, certain pulmonary diseases and psychiatric or psychological disorders. The candidate’s overall medical suitability will be subject to approval by the FBI’s Chief Medical Officer.