What Educational Background Is Required to Become an FBI Agent?


Quick Answer

To become an FBI agent, an applicant must have a four-year college degree from an accredited college or university. Other requirements include three years of work experience in one's area of expertise. The FBI prizes candidates who are proficient foreign language speakers in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Hebrew as of 2015. Candidates with law enforcement career experience must have at least 10 years working in various positions before the FBI considers them ready to apply.

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In addition to four-year degrees, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has a number of criteria that candidates must meet before they can be considered for positions. Applicants must be U.S. citizens to apply to the FBI. They must also pass a fitness test to be approved to take new agent classes; the FBI only seeks candidates who are in peak physical condition. Applicants must also avoid taking illegal drugs to be considered for employment. In some cases, the agency's work experience requirement may be waived; for example, candidates who are exceptional foreign language speakers may be considered even if they lack professional experience.

Some highly sought-after skills and educational backgrounds for special agents include biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and computer science. The FBI also seeks candidates with international studies, law, business, finance and accounting skills. It prefers candidates with military intelligence skills and graduate degrees in relevant fields. The agency also recruits specially skilled candidates for its Tactical Recruiting Program, which trains agents for the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team.

Those seeking professional careers in the FBI often have backgrounds in analysis, information technology, finance, accounting and applied science. The FBI also hires for administrative positions, such as mental health specialists, nurses, archivists, writers and editors, and legal specialists. Those with history, English, health care, psychology and human resources training are eligible.

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