How Long Does It Take To Become an FBI Agent?

There is much room for advancement for FBI agents in law enforcement, including organizations like the FBI. 

According to the organization’s website, agents make roughly $80,000 annually within five years of joining the FBI. 

This guide will provide an overview of how long it takes to become an FBI agent, including educational requirements and an explanation of the demanding screening procedure applicants must pass if they believe a career in the FBI would be right for them. 

You can learn about the requirements for advancement in this unusual and fascinating job path and the typical pay of FBI agents.

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What is an FBI Agent?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation employs law enforcement personnel as FBI agents. They are responsible for obtaining information about illicit activity and investigating federal offenses. 

Although their daily duties will vary, they typically involve questioning and interviewing suspects, gathering and analyzing data, and conducting surveillance. 

Agents of the FBI can specialize in a variety of divisions, including: 

The FBI’s intelligence division aids in the classification and analysis of information about criminal activity for use in upcoming investigations. 

Counterintelligence: Agents look into foreign agents to stop them from spying, sabotaging, or gathering intelligence on the United States.

Counterterrorism: Agents look into people or organizations, both domestic and international, who might be preparing terrorist attacks against the United States. 

Criminal: Agents look into serious crimes that harm Americans, including white-collar crime, organized crime, and civil rights offenses. 

Cyber: Agents look into potential cyberwarfare threats and defend sensitive government information and crucial infrastructure.

What is the FBI Agent school like?

The FBI School, a national training center for the organization, is situated in Quantico, Virginia. 

It provides a range of training courses for FBI workers, including the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC), which is necessary to become an agent. 

For the first three weeks of training, BFTC trainees must reside on campus and abide by all policies, including curfews, grooming standards, and dress guidelines. 

They undergo instruction Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. 

Trainees should see the BFTC as a protracted interview process in addition to the need that they pass all required courses and exams. 

In addition to training, instructors will evaluate applicants on the following behaviors to make sure they are fit to serve as FBI agents:

  • Judgment
  • Conscientiousness
  • Integrity
  • Emotional maturity
  • Initiative
  • Cooperation

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Is Attending an FBI Agent School Worth It?

As one of the most sought-after law enforcement career options in the United States, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents benefit from competitive pay, comprehensive health insurance coverage, outstanding retirement benefits, and a certain level of status and distinction. 

While working for the FBI may be financially rewarding, becoming an agent requires that you fulfill several necessary qualifications.

What Schooling Do You Need to Become an FBI Agent?

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for FBI agents. 

Most agents have a master’s degree or above, particularly those in managerial and technical roles. Although some businesses might pass over a GPA, the FBI demands a 3.0 or above. 

So which majors are ideal for FBI agents? Find out below how many traditional and online degrees U.S. citizens will need to work with the FBI.

Computer Science & Information Technology

The Federal Bureau of Investigation places great importance on a large amount of information in this category of degrees. 

Looking through these programs, it becomes clear that every firm highly values degrees in data science, network administration, software development and design, and other CS-IT fields. 

Through career paths in computer engineering, network security, geospatial information systems, and cybersecurity, the FBI can further enhance its value in this highly competitive climate. 

When seeking a degree in this area, consider programs like the ABET-accredited Information Assurance program, which has regional and programmatic accreditation.

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Law Enforcement

By definition, the FBI is a law enforcement organization. People with experience in local law enforcement and the military make up a large portion of the FBI. 

The honesty, devotion, morals, and expertise of detectives and law enforcement officials are essential to upholding the Constitution. 

Their physical prowess and comprehensive knowledge of American law set a bar for behavior that is difficult to match. Working with the FBI may seem like an obvious or smooth move into a demanding and highly lucrative job for law enforcement officials. 

Criminology, Forensic Science, and Criminal Justice are some of the top majors in law enforcement offered by the FBI.


The hard sciences are among the most promising subjects to pursue if one wants to work with the FBI. 

In the Laboratory Division, Cyber Division, Operational Technology Division, etc., FBI scientists normally work. 

Degrees in scientific disciplines like biology, chemistry, and physics equip students with analytical skills, methods for research and problem-solving, and the expertise and dexterity to excel in a broad and competitive sector. 

According to FBI agents, hard science careers can open up intriguing prospects that are uncommon in the private sector.


Fraud and money theft are two major problems the FBI deals with when dealing with white-collar criminals, who operate on many different levels. 

Accounting, business, and finance experts can use their analytical, problem-solving, and mathematical reasoning talents to dismantle criminal masterminds on a local to global scale. 

A finance or business administration degree can help you understand corporate finance, investments, business ethics, and other topics. Following this route might result in a successful FBI career at a high level.

Foreign Language

An FBI agent’s ability to speak a foreign language is one of their most desired qualifications. 

The FBI is looking for people with a solid grasp of numerous languages and dialects, including Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Punjabi, Indonesian, Pashto, and many others. 

Even a minimal proficiency in a foreign language can be helpful to agents working in any branch of the FBI since it benefits the nation on an international scale. 

A bachelor’s degree might be the first and easiest step toward becoming a special agent for the FBI and acquiring advanced language skills.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed FBI Agent?

A special agent must complete more than 800 hours, or around 20 weeks, of training. 

But this is only the instruction at the FBI Academy; in total, being a special agent necessitates accumulating at least two to three years of professional experience and passing a demanding application process. 

The hiring process can take a year or longer, and it takes years of time, planning, and effort to shape oneself into the applicant the FBI is seeking. 

Less than 20% of applicants for entry-level positions or career paths get hired by the FBI.

A nearby FBI facility has two preliminary testing phases and a physical fitness test. 

Various written assessments assess fundamental skills, knowledge, and competency. 

A person will also undergo a written proficiency test and a thorough oral interview. They will then finish a demanding physical fitness evaluation. 

After that, a complete background check will be conducted on the applicant. 

This arduous process includes a polygraph test, a credit check, and interviews with coworkers, friends, and neighbors. 

It also includes interviews with former employers to discover more about prior employment experience.

If candidates complete all the requirements, they will be invited to enroll in a Special Agent course at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. 

The 21-week training regimen is demanding both emotionally and physically. The academic requirements are rigorous, and failing to pass exams or demonstrate proficiencies will result in employment termination.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed FBI Agent?

Although it is based in Stafford, Virginia, the FBI Academy also offers online courses. 

This institution offers training in 12 specialties, with basic and advanced investigative training in white-collar crimes, BITOPS (Basic International Terrorist Operations), and criminal investigative programs receiving the most positive reviews. 

Depending on the qualification, this education program might take anywhere from 1 week to 10 months, with 1 week as the average. 

Depending on qualifications, the cost of attending the FBI Academy can range from $2,000 to $50,000, with a median cost of $10,000.

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Salary and Job Outlook for FBI Agent after Study

To fully comprehend the crimes committed, profilers must be skilled at analyzing the evidence and speaking with witnesses. 

They also must research criminal behavior and keep up with the most recent investigative techniques. 

The role of FBI profilers may entail considerable travel and consultation with other law enforcement agencies, and they frequently teach other special agents behavioral analysis.

All FBI special agents begin at the GS-10 pay grade of the federal government, where earnings in 2022 varied from $51,864 to $67,425. 

Supervisors may be paid between $112,890 and $146,757 in the GS-15 pay grade. 

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for police and detectives was $67,290 in 2020.


Although FBI agents require a unique set of talents, some components of their work are the same as those in any other government organization. 

The FBI listed eight fundamental competencies, including teamwork, communication, adaptability, interpersonal skills, and leadership, as characteristics of special agents. 

The Bureau advises potential employees to provide examples of their soft skills on their résumé. 

Due to the particular nature of FBI work, additional specialized abilities are necessary for addition to conventional soft skills.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

What Do Agents of the FBI Do? 

We’ve all seen FBI agents portrayed in films and television shows. An FBI agent’s day is never the same twice. They might be out collecting tangible evidence for a case one day and then appear in court the next day to testify or to make an arrest. 

Their time may be split between speaking with witnesses, consulting with other agents, and updating paperwork. It is possible to relocate FBI agents anywhere at any time, and they are always on call, including on holidays, weekends, and evenings.

What Qualifications Do FBI Agents Have? 

Agents of the FBI work to protect the American Constitution, combat terrorism, and dismantle criminal organizations. These are high-level responsibilities that call for unusual abilities and perseverance to complete. 

Because of this, FBI agents are held to a higher standard. They must be capable of using their powers appropriately and be in good physical and mental health to safeguard the people from various dangers.

What Qualifications Must You Meet to Become an FBI Agent? 

The prerequisites to join the FBI are very stringent. To begin with, you must fulfill the prerequisites for employment at the FBI in any position, which include being a citizen of the United States, obtaining Top Secret SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) clearance, and abiding by the drug policy. 

You may apply to be an agent if you are between 23 and 36. You must have a bachelor’s degree, have worked for at least two years, and pass a demanding physical fitness exam to be considered.

Which Training Is Necessary? 

The FBI Academy is where recruits are taken for more than 800 hours of rigorous instruction. 
Agent candidates undergo rigorous physical training outside, but they also put their minds to the test in the classroom, where they learn about morality, investigation methods, forensic science, and the foundations of American law. 

In order to learn how to handcuff detainees, make arrests, conduct surveillance, and perform undercover work, trainees also undergo operational and firearms training.


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