FBI Sniper/Observer Careers

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FBI Sniper/Observers are among the most skilled marksmen in any military or law enforcement organization.  Not only do FBI Snipers possess the technical skills consistent with the world’s most elite long range shooters, but they also must possess situational awareness and adherence to the law that are not found on the battlefield.  FBI Snipers uphold the highest standards of the Bureau and law enforcement while still maintaining public safety and ensuring national security.

After completing an eight-week long training program at the Marine Corps Sniper School, FBI Snipers are assigned to a SWAT or HRT team.  These operatives serve two highly critical roles on these elite squads.

  • Deployment: As covert observers, these operatives gain knowledge about the disposition of hostile combatants, possible weaponry and defenses, and the presence of hostages, bystanders or other environmental conditions.  In terrorist or WMD operations, Observers prioritize the positioning and status of explosives, biological agents and nuclear devices.  Once the situation has been mapped, the rest of the team is alerted and deployed accordingly. The sniper provides defensive fire as needed while the team is obtaining their necessary positions.
  • Initiation of Negotiations: Although trained to neutralize targets from a distance, snipers play a greater role in helping to initiate dialogue with hostage takers or individuals within fortified structures. As the lead operative on the ground, the Sniper is most able to evaluate the risks with a breach and take steps to avoid direct confrontation if necessary.

FBI Sniper/Observer Job Description

Snipers jobs require agents that are able to fulfill the following responsibilities:

  • Maintain the highest standards of marksmanship with a wide variety of rifles and firearms
  • Cooperate with a partner and trade off shooting and observation responsibilities
  • Report situational details to commanders and team personnel
  • Contact hostiles in an effort to initiate communication
  • Neutralize targets with a high potential for violence
  • Monitor the status of bystanders, hostages, and explosive devices
  • Provide advice on timing and strategies for deployment
  • Initiate a breach by alerting team members to offensive opportunities
  • Provide covering fire as operatives move and take up position
  • Retain a clear understanding of the rule of engagement

FBI Sniper/Observer Salary

FBI Snipers are typically members of SWAT, Enhanced SWAT or Hostage Rescue Teams. Like all FBI field personnel, FBI Snipers begin with a GS-10 salary grade and may be promoted up to a GS-13 if he/she decides to remain in the field. If they wish to become a supervisor, instructor or manager they may reach the GS-14 or GS-15 pay rating. Snipers who serve on HRT units are considered supervisors, so they qualify for GS-14 or GS-15 pay levels.  For 2012, these pay levels were as follows:

General Schedule Grade
Pay Range
General Schedule 10
$45771-$59505
General Schedule 13
$71674-$93175
General Schedule 14
$84697-$110104
General Schedule 15
$99628-$129517

In addition to the base salary, Snipers also may qualify for a Cost of Living Adjustment between 12.5 and 28.7 percent of base salary. Snipers also receive a 25 percent bonus due to availability pay. Snipers also receive a wide array of benefits including health insurance (with the option of dental and vision), life and long-term care insurance, Thrift Savings Plans, and full retirement after 20 to 25 years of service.

To learn more about how to become a sniper in the FBI, click here.