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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 position?
  • 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 joint interest.

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 Position

Special Agent applicants must meet the following MINIMUM qualifications to be considered for the position:

  1. be a United States citizen or a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands,
  2. be completely available for assignment anywhere in the FBI's geographic jurisdiction,
  3. 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 years of age),
  4. possess a valid driver's license,
  5. 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
  6. 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 Education.

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 test.

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. 1) conviction of a felony,
  2. 2) use of illegal drugs (see the FBI Employment Drug Policy for more details),
  3. 3) default of student loan (insured by the U.S. Government),
  4. 4) failure of a urinalysis drug test, or
  5. 5) failure to register with the Selective Service System.

 FBI Employment Drug Policy

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 years?

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 your life?

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 policy.

 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 circumstances dictate.

 Physical Training

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 duties.

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 the
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 less) before
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.

Medical Reviews

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.

Veterans' Preference

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 equivalency.

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.

FBI Employment Hompage

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