This information is being provided to give you specific
details concerning the Special Agent applicant process. The first chapter gives
you general information about the FBI, minimum qualifications for the job,
various important policies, and information for those applicants with
disabilities. The second chapter is your guide to getting started in the
applicant process: what to do and how to do it. The third chapter prepares you
for taking the tests. The fourth and fifth chapters give you insight on what
Phase I and Phase II testing is all about. By the time you finish reading this
booklet, you will be able to answer the following questions:
- What does it take to qualify for the Special Agent
- How do I apply?
- What is the selection process?
- What tests do I have to take?
- What should I know about taking the tests?
Keep this booklet handy for referral during the
applicant process. It may not answer all the questions you may have about the
applicant process but feel free to contact the Applicant Coordinator in the
office nearest you for assistance.
About the FBI
The FBI is a law enforcement agency, one of the six
Bureaus of the Department of Justice. It is the primary criminal investigative
agency in the federal government and is one of the most respected throughout the
world. The FBI plays a central role in national law enforcement in the proper
administration of justice in the United States. Special Agents carry out the
responsibilities of the FBI by enforcing more than 260 federal statutes. This
involves conducting investigations in organized crime, white-collar crime,
financial crime, civil rights violations, bank robbery, kidnapping, terrorism,
foreign counterintelligence, fugitive and drug trafficking matters, and many
other violations of federal statutes. Special Agents also work with other
federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in investigative matters of
FBI Headquarters is located in Washington, D.C. There
are 56 FBI field offices located throughout the country, each containing an
additional number of satellite offices (resident agencies) that together conduct
the day-to-day operations of the FBI. The work performed by our Special Agents
and support employees has a daily impact on the country's security and the
quality of life for all United States citizens.
Minimum Qualifications for the Special Agent
Special Agent applicants must meet the following
MINIMUM qualifications to be considered for the position:
- be a United States citizen or a citizen of the
Northern Mariana Islands,
- be completely available for assignment anywhere in
the FBI's geographic jurisdiction,
- be at least 23 years of age but not yet 37 at the
time of hire (due to the length of time it takes to test, process, and hire
new agents, it is advisable not to begin testing if an applicant is over 36 ½
years of age),
- possess a valid driver's license,
- be deemed by the FBI's Chief Medical Officer to be
physically able to engage in firearms use, raids, defensive tactics, and other
essential functions of the job, and
- possess a bachelor's degree from a four-year
resident program at a college or university which is certified by one of the
six regional accrediting bodies of the Commission on Institutions of Higher
In addition to the above minimum qualifications,
Special Agent candidates must qualify under one or more of the following four
entrance programs: Law, Accounting, Language, and Diversified.
Law: To qualify under the Law Program, you must have a
J.D. degree from an accredited resident law school.
Accounting: To qualify under the Accounting Program,
you must have a bachelor's degree with a major in accounting or a related
discipline, and be academically eligible to take the CPA examination. Candidates
who have not passed the CPA exam will be required to pass the FBI's accounting
Language: To qualify under the Language Program, you
must have a bachelor's degree in any discipline plus proficiency in a language
that meets the needs of the FBI. Candidates will be required to pass a foreign
language proficiency test.
Diversified: To qualify under the Diversified Program,
you must have a bachelor's degree in any discipline accompanied by three years
of full-time work experience, or an advanced degree in any discipline
accompanied by two years of full-time work experience.
Special Agent candidates must commit to serving the FBI
as a Special Agent for three years.
There are specific things that will automatically
disqualify you from consideration for the Special Agent position. They are:
- 1) conviction of a felony,
- 2) use of illegal drugs (see the FBI Employment Drug
Policy for more details),
- 3) default of student loan (insured by the U.S.
- 4) failure of a urinalysis drug test, or
- 5) failure to register with the Selective Service
The FBI is firmly committed to a drug-free society and
workplace. Therefore, the unlawful use of drugs by FBI employees will not be
tolerated. Furthermore, applicants for employment with the FBI who currently are
using illegal drugs will be found unsuitable for employment. The FBI does not
condone any prior unlawful drug use by applicants. The FBI realizes, however,
some otherwise qualified applicants may have used drugs at some point in their
past. The following policy sets forth the criteria for determining whether any
prior drug use makes an applicant unsuitable for employment, balancing the needs
of the FBI to maintain a drug-free workplace and the public integrity necessary
to accomplish its law enforcement
mission. Applicants who do not meet these criteria should not apply for the
Special Agent position.
A. An applicant who has used any illegal drug while
employed in any law enforcement or prosecutorial position, or while employed in
a position which carries with it a high level of responsibility or public trust,
will be found unsuitable for employment.
B. An applicant who is discovered to have
misrepresented his/her drug history in completing the application will be found
unsuitable for employment.
C. An applicant who has sold any illegal drug for
profit at any time will be found unsuitable for employment.
D. An applicant who has used any illegal drug
(including anabolic steroids after February 27, 1991), other than marijuana,
within the last ten years or more than five times in one's life will be found
unsuitable for employment.
E. An applicant who has used marijuana within the past
three years or more than a total of 15 times in one's life will be found
unsuitable for employment.
To determine whether you meet the FBI's drug policy,
please answer the following
1) Have you used marijuana at all within the last three
2) Have you used marijuana more than a total of 15
times in your life?
3) Have you used any other illegal drug (including
anabolic steroids after February 27, 1991) at all in the past 10 years?
4) Have you used any other illegal drug (including
anabolic steroids after February 27, 1991) more than a total of five times in
5) Have you ever sold any illegal drug for profit?
6) Have you ever used an illegal drug (no matter how
many times or how long ago) while in a law enforcement or prosecutorial
position, or in a position which carries with it a high level of responsibility
or public trust?
If you answered "YES" to any of these questions, you should NOT apply for the
Special Agent position. They are immediate disqualifiers.
Special Agent Transfer Policy
The Director of the FBI maintains the authority to
transfer any FBI employee when it is in the best interest of the United States
Government. All Special Agents are subject to transfer at any time to meet the
organizational and program needs of the FBI. FBI Special Agents accept the
possibility of transfer as a condition of their employment. Special Agents may
be transferred where and when the needs of the FBI may dictate. In this regard
the overall needs of the Bureau, to include the assurance that investigatory
experience levels are appropriately represented in all field offices, along with
budgetary considerations, take precedence. The personal needs and preferences of
the Special Agents are considered wherever possible in carrying out the transfer
Special Agent Firearms Policy
In 1934, Congress authorized Special Agents of the FBI
to carry firearms under Title 18, USC, Section 3052. Special Agents are
initially trained at the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, in all aspects of the
use and maintenance of firearms and related equipment under their control. It is
not necessary to have prior experience with a firearm. The FBI Academy will
provide training in this area.
Special Agents must be armed or have immediate access
to a firearm at all times when on official duty unless good judgment dictates
otherwise. Special Agents may be required to utilize deadly force should
The job description for a Special Agent of the FBI
includes, "...a Special Agent must be fit for strenuous exertion." A Special
Agent is often placed in situations that make great demands of his/her physical
capacity. In these instances, physical fitness is often the factor that spells
the difference between success and failure - even life and death . The Special
Agent who lacks the muscular strength and endurance necessary to successfully
cope with these situations is not prepared to adequately discharge his/her
The prime motivating factors for physical fitness are
pride and a desire for
personal improvement. For the law enforcement officer, a strong motivator can be
realization that his/her life, and possibly the lives of others, could well
depend on whether or not he/she is physically fit. If you are applying for the
Special Agent position, you must meet
certain weight or body fat requirements (males - 19% and less; females - 22% and
further processing of your application will take place. See Desirable Weight
Ranges, page 32), for weight criteria and body fat requirements.
Having the physical proficiency to apply defensive
tactic holds and being adept in the use of handcuffs on a passive partner in
training does not guarantee success on the job. Minimum levels of strength,
flexibility, and endurance are necessary to ensure survival in an arrest
situation as well as to enhance the safety of fellow Special Agents, other law
enforcement officers, and civilians. For these reasons, the FBI fitness
philosophy begins when an individual applies for the Special Agent position and
continues through New Agents' training and throughout his/her career. Applicants
for the Special Agent position should engage in a regular fitness program to
develop and maintain their strength, endurance, agility, aerobic capacity, etc.
While attending New Agents' training at the FBI
Academy, New Agent trainees (NATs) receive 77 hours of physical
fitness/defensive tactics training. NATs are given a fitness test upon entry,
mid-training cycle and at the conclusion of the training cycle. The fitness test
comprises a height, weight, and body fat assessment, pull-ups, sit-ups,
push-ups, a 120-yard
shuttle run and a 2-mile run. At the conclusion of the training cycle, NATs are
also given a cumulative defensive tactics test in which failure to demonstrate
proficiency may lead to
Physical fitness requires commitment. In addition to
the emphasis placed on physical fitness/defensive tactics at the FBI Academy,
the Bureau further supports its commitment to physical fitness by authorizing
Special Agents three one-hour exercise periods
per week. Each Field Office has at least one certified Special Agent Fitness
Instructor who semiannually administers a Fitness Indicator Test and acts as a
resource to Special Agents within that field division.
The FBI also provides physical examinations for Special
Agents. Special Agents under 33 years of age are given physical exams once every
three years while Special Agents 33 years of age and over are afforded physical
examinations annually. Additionally, after age 40, Special Agents are given a
stress test biannually. Special Agents are expected to have a full commitment to
physical fitness throughout their careers.
An applicant's medical history will be reviewed
thoroughly and a determination will be made whether any medical issue (or
condition) could potentially affect the applicant's ability to perform the basic
functions of the Special Agent position. This medical review ensures that each
candidate's situation is reviewed on an individual basis. If you have undergone
a particular surgical procedure (e.g., radial keratotomy) and/or have some
preexisting medical condition (e.g., hypertension), this will require careful
review during the physical examination process. You should know that
issues/conditions that surface concerning medical reviews may delay the final
processing for employment. Although your doctor provides information about your
medical condition, it is the FBI's Chief Medical Officer who decides if you are
physically able to perform the job. This decision is based on the review of your
doctor's findings and the FBI's knowledge of the requirements of the job. The
FBI is committed to treating all applicants fairly and equitably in all aspects
of our hiring/selection practices.
Applicants with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require an accommodation
to complete the application process, you should notify the Applicant Coordinator
in the FBI office nearest you, advise
him/her in writing of your need for the accommodation, and furnish medical
documentation concerning your disability. You must be physically and mentally
able to perform the essential functions of a Special Agent position in order to
be offered the job.
To receive veterans' preference, you must have served
on active duty, have been honorably discharged from active duty in the Armed
Forces (US Army, Navy, Air Force,
Marine Corps, and Coast Guard) and have performed service that meets certain
criteria. In order to be considered for veterans' preference, you must present a
DD-214 issued by the Armed Forces, Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), or the
National Archives and Records Administration's National Personnel Records
Center. If you have any questions about your eligibility, contact the DVA office
nearest you. If you desire more information about your rights in the applicant
process, including how and when veterans' preference is applied, contact the
Applicant Coordinator/FBI Recruiter in the FBI office nearest you.
The starting grade level for Special Agents is grade GS
10 plus locality pay (where applicable) . Special Agents are also eligible for
an additional 25% law enforcement availability pay after graduation from the FBI
Academy. See a current Federal Government salary chart for the GS 10
Application Checklist for the Special Agent Position
The Application Checklist for the Special Agent
Position (FD-869) summarizes all of the specific qualifications that you must be
willing and able to meet in order to be eligible for the Special Agent position.
See Special Agent Employment/Vacancies, Application Process for the Application
Checklist, in pdf format. As an applicant, you are asked to verify, on the form,
your receipt and understanding of the application process and the requirements
of the Special Agent position. Examples of job requirements include engaging in
strenuous and potentially dangerous duties; routinely carrying firearms and
using them, as appropriate, in a variety of life-threatening situations, etc.
All of the functions listed pertain to requirements considered for effective
performance of the Special Agent position.
You are asked to check "yes" or "no" for each checklist
item, initial the response, and
sign and date the form. Any intentional false statement or willful
misrepresentation on this document will result in your disqualification from the
Special Agent position. If the misrepresentation is discovered after hiring, as
an employee, you may be subject to inquiry and suitable administrative or
disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.