Career Guide: FBI Agent

FBI agents are among the most highly trained and paid professionals in law enforcement.

The importance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) cannot be overstated. Its agents enforce federal laws and are the primary investigators of domestic criminal activity at the federal level. FBI agents are among the most highly trained and paid professionals in law enforcement.

The goal of this page is to describe what FBI agents do on the job and how to become one. Salary information and helpful resources are included, along with suggested steps on the path to this exciting career.

What Does an FBI Agent Do?

FBI agents' job responsibilities vary, but usually include collecting evidence, investigating crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, testifying in court, analyzing data and evidence, making arrests, executing search warrants, and meeting with high-level sources.

Once agents complete their training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, they are assigned to one of the 56 field offices located in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The largest offices are in Los Angeles, New York City, and at the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Some agents work overseas in one of the FBI’s 63 legal attache offices.

Established agents may become "profilers" (although there is actually no such job title within the agency) who apply advanced investigative, reasoning, and research skills to statistical probability of criminal behavior.

For more details about what FBI agents do, visit the FBI Agent Job Description page.

FBI Agent Job Description

How to Become an FBI Agent

Steps For Becoming an FBI Agent

Step 1:

Learn more about the profession to see if it’s a good fit for you. Use the links on this page to start.

Step 2:

Earn a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice. An associate degree introduces students to criminal justice. A bachelor's narrows the focus to law enforcement and is required to become an agent.

Step 3:

Apply for a job as an agent if you meet the requirements.

Step 4:

Pass a physical fitness test and criminal background check for Top Secret

Step 5:

Pack your bags for Basic Field Training at the FBI Academy.

Learn more about degree options for FBI agents at the following pages:

FBI Agent Salary and Job Growth

Agents' starting salaries typically reach $50,605, plus locality and availability pay. Locality pay is a percentage of the base salary dependent on the area where the agent works. Availability pay is an additional 28% of the base salary, paid out as compensation for overtime and on-call availability.

Salaries are also affected by degrees earned and work experience. The average salary is $64,386, and the projected job growth is 5% for all criminal investigators.

Click on the link below for more salary details.

FBI Agent Salary

Take the Next Steps

The links listed and described below offer detailed information about various degree programs -- associate and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and bachelor's degrees in law enforcement -- and jobs available to graduates.

Criminal Justice Degree & Career Information

Visit this page for an overview of criminal justice and law enforcement degree programs listed by degree and state and potential career paths.

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Click here for information about two-year degree programs, used as a stepping stone to becoming an FBI agent or a launching point for other criminal justice careers.

Bachelor's in Criminal Justice

Check this page for everything you need to know about four-year degrees that can lead to a variety of criminal justice careers -- in both law enforcement and legal services.

Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement

Learn here about this four-year degree degree that provides a solid background in the academics required at the FBI Academy, along with critical thinking skills.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Aspiring FBI agents can find additional information and support through professional organizations and other online resources, starting with the FBI's website, which explains the bureau's various career opportunities and how to qualify and apply for them. Professional organizations provide useful information on current topics in law enforcement and related resources.

For example, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association is the legislative voice of the federal law enforcement community, providing representation on such issues as salaries and benefits. The National Criminal Intelligence Resource Center site provides online training and publications covering topics that include federal law, anti-terrorism, and First Amendment rights.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation The FBI's website is packed with details about becoming an agent, along with resources and services for FBI agents and other criminal justice and law enforcement professionals.
  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association FLEOA is the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization representing federal law enforcement professionals. Member benefits include legal representation and advice, insurance and educational discounts, and networking opportunities.
  • National Criminal Intelligence Resource Center Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, the NCIRC website features numerous resources for law enforcement officers, including training materials and technical assistance.