A Career Fighting Terrorism

posted in: Career | 0

by Jay Markunas

The best job of 2010, according to Money & Payscale.com, is Software Architect.  With no offense to Software Architects, I don’t think that job sounds too exciting.  Sure, based on pay and job growth it might be the best job, but what about fun?  Excitement?  Shouldn’t your career be exciting or at least fun?  What about a career that includes fighting terrorism, cyber crime, organized crime, white-collar crime, drug-trafficking, and counterintelligence?  YEAH!!  Now you’re talking!  That career belongs to 13,807 US citizens who are currently employed as FBI Special Agents.

Courtesy of FBI.gov

FBI special agents are the Government’s principal investigators, responsible for investigating violations of more than 200 categories of Federal law and conducting sensitive national security investigations. Agents may conduct surveillance, monitor court-authorized wiretaps, examine business records, investigate white-collar crime, or participate in sensitive undercover assignments.

How accurately is the position portrayed on TV?
Many of the authors, script writers, and producers consult with the FBI, but there is no requirement that they do so.  Some authors, television programs, or motion pictures are accurate depictions of the FBI’s responsibilities, investigations, and procedures in their story lines while others present more dramatic effects.

What does an FBI agent do on a typical day?
This is definitely not a 9:00 to 5:00 career.  The typical day will vary by a number of factors.  According to the FBI site, “Our agents enforce many different federal laws and perform various roles in the Bureau, so there really is no such thing as a typical day for an FBI agent.”   Agents may testify in court, meet with intelligence sources, make arrests, execute a search warrant, and the dreaded paperwork.

Requirements
Agents must be at least 23 and less than 37 years old (except with age waiver available to veterans).    To be considered for appointment as an FBI agent, an applicant must have at least 3 years of professional work experience or must have an advanced degree plus 2 years of professional work experience.  An applicant must have one of the following: a college major in accounting, electrical engineering, information technology, or computer science; fluency in a foreign language; a degree from an accredited law school; or 3 years of related full-time work experience.   All new FBI agents undergo 20 weeks of training at the FBI Academy on the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.

Training
During their time at Quantico, trainees live on campus and participate in a variety of training activities. Classroom hours are spent studying a wide variety of academic and investigative subjects, including the fundamentals of law, behavioral science, report writing, forensic science, and basic and advanced investigative, interviewing, and intelligence techniques. Students also learn the intricacies of counterterrorism, counterintelligence, weapons of mass destruction, cyber, and criminal investigations to prepare them for their chosen career paths. The curriculum also includes intensive training in physical fitness, defensive tactics, practical application exercises, and the use of firearms.

Pay and Outlook
FBI Special Agent salary range is between $51,684  and $105,393 according to Payscale.com.  This is right in line with the salaries of law enforcement ($49,416 – $101,471), and slightly above Private Investigators ($46,892 – $97,505).   The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of FBI special agents and intelligence analysts will grow rapidly in coming years. Job growth will occur as the population expands and the emphasis on national security continues to increase. Competition for FBI jobs will be strong. Bilingual candidates with college degrees and law enforcement or military experience should enjoy the best prospects.

If just reading this started you dreaming of running surveillance or chasing down criminals, then a career in the FBI may be for you:  http://www.fbijobs.gov


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