Is a Criminal Justice Degree Required to be an FBI Agent?

If you are considering a criminal justice degree, one career avenue on your list may be in the Federal government. While it seems an easy connection, you do not necessarily need a criminal justice degree to be an FBI Agent. While agents are required to earn a four-year college degree, this can be in a variety of applicable disciplines. Read on to learn more about the requirements for and process of becoming an FBI agent.

Key Qualifications

To have your application considered as a potential FBI agent, you must be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 23 and 37 at the time of application. You must have completed a four-year college degree, have at least three years of work experience, and have a valid driver’s license.

Special Entry Programs

In addition to the qualifications above, the FBI recruits agents only for specific programs. Currently, they are recruiting agents for the 2015 and 2016 hiring years for the following areas: language, law, accounting, and computer science. Applicants must hold a degree in one of those areas to qualify for consideration; however, a fifth program, the diversified entry program, is open to applicants with a BS or BA degree in any discipline, plus three years of full-time work experience, or an advanced degree accompanied by two years of full-time work experience.

Critical Skills

After qualifying under one of the special entry programs, applicants are ranked based on their possession of key critical skills. These skills currently include Accounting, Finance, Computer Science/Information Technology Expertise, Engineering Expertise, Foreign Language(s) Proficiency, Intelligence Experience, Law Experience, Law Enforcement/Investigative Experience, Military Experience, Physical Sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) Expertise, and Diversified Experience.

Physical Education and Background Check

Applicants for an FBI agent role who qualify under both the special entry programs and critical skills areas will be subject to physical education requirements and background check. Agents are tested on sit-ups, push-ups, timed sprint, and timed 1.5 mile run, and are also subject to vision and hearing testing and a complete medical and physical review. Before being hired, agents must also obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance. This process includes an a polygraph examination, illegal drug testing, credit and records checks, and extensive interviews with former and current colleagues, neighbors, friends, employers, and professors.

Salary for FBI Agents

New FBI agents earn between $61,100 and $69,900 depending on where they are placed. This figure includes a bonus for availability pay which is a 25 percent bonus over the base salary for agents who average at least 50 hours per week over the course of a year.

The hiring process for FBI Agents takes a minimum of six months and can last up to several years. If you are interested in this job, your first step is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a subject that qualifies you under a special entry program. Not only do you not need a criminal justice degree to be an FBI Agent, you may be more qualified by pursuing a four-year degree other than criminal justice.