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FBI Special Agent Careers

The Federal Bureau of Investigations employs more than 13,500 Special Agents throughout its five major divisions of Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, Criminal and Cyber.  It requires special physical and mental talents to serve as one of the nation’s premier national security and law enforcement officers, so the screening process is highly selective. Even if selected there are a wide variety of assignment options, all of which are extremely demanding.

FBI Special Agents in the Directorate of Intelligence
Special Agent jobs in the Directorate of Intelligence involve detecting, evaluating and developing responses to emerging national security and criminal threats. They are often organizational policy makers who generate nationwide strategies involving federal, international, and local assets.  The Special Agents in this division are expected to gather information from a multitude of domestic and international sources, decipher and parse them for actionable information and distribute them to FBI and other agency personnel. Agents in the Intelligence division are often the eyes and ears of the nation. Read more…

FBI Special Agents in Counterintelligence
The Special Agents in Counterintelligence are tasked with uncovering hidden threats to the United States that have been created by other governments and foreign powers.  They are the lead division involved in denying Weapons of Mass Destruction and technology to other sovereignties. These agents also ensure the integrity of U.S. government agencies, organizations, and assets. Counterintelligence Special Agents also design and implement intelligence operations aimed at penetrating the intelligence structures of other nations. Read more…

FBI Special Agents in Counterterrorism
This critical division is assigned to detect, dismantle and neutralize terrorist activities within the United States, with an emphasis on preventing any future attacks. Special Agent jobs in this division involve monitoring and investigating suspicious behavior conducted by individuals and groups that are acting domestically or internationally. This often involves penetrating terrorist networks for the purpose of intelligence acquisition and disruption. Counterterrorism often collaborates closely with Defense and Intelligence assets abroad in order to gain accurate data and early warning. Read more…

FBI Special Agents in Criminal Investigation
Once the primary responsibility of the FBI, the criminal investigations division has been de-prioritized while national security divisions have been elevated.  It remains the largest of the five divisions, and is charged with investigating all manner of serious crimes and illegal activity.  It has modified its operational profile to focus on broad threats to national security and public safety.  It has also emphasized public corruption and civil rights cases.  The FBI CID remains the highest law enforcement agency in the nation and provides resources to local and state agencies when requested. Read more…

FBI Special Agents in the Cyber-Crime Division
This recent addition to the FBI structure identifies, analyzes and disrupts attacks on information systems.  Cyber Special Agents have a broad set of responsibilities that requires constant education about the current state of computer technology.  These highly qualified officers help develop security systems for major governmental information assets, investigate online predators and intellectual property thieves, and uncover internet fraud operations. Read more…

FBI Special Agent Salary

FBI Special Agents in training are provide with salaries consistent with GS-10 employees, who earn $43,441 per year in addition to a Quantico, VA COLA adjustment of $7,602 for the year (training is only for about 21 weeks).  Once assigned to a field office, Special Agents retain their GS-10 status but also have a local Cost of Living Adjustment which is a bonus between 12.5 and 28.7 percent of base salary.

Active agents also receive Availability Pay, which is an additional 25 percent of the base salary plus COLA.  Availability pay is intended to compensate agents for long hours and around-the-clock availability. Some agents who are relocating from a nominal cost of living area to a high cost city may expect a one-time payment of $22,000 to help offset moving costs and higher housing prices.

FBI Special Agent jobs in the field can eventually offer a pay grade at the level of GS-13.  If they obtain a supervisor, management or executive position, they may be promoted to GS-14 or GS-15.  The 2012 salary ranges for these pay grades were as follows:

General Schedule Level Pay Range
General Schedule 13$71674-$93175
General Schedule 14$84697-$110104
General Schedule 15$99628-$129517

For more information on how to become an FBI special agent, click here.

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