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Becoming an FBI agent is a challenging yet rewarding career path but what does it take to become an FBI agent? Well, you’ll need a blend of education, physical fitness, and professional experience. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeks individuals who are not only highly skilled but also committed to upholding the law and protecting the United States from various threats. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become an FBI agent.

1. Understand the Role and Responsibilities of an FBI Agent

FBI agents are responsible for investigating federal crimes, enforcing federal laws, and conducting intelligence activities to protect national security. Their duties can range from counterterrorism and counterintelligence to cybercrime and organized crime investigations. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what the job entails, as it demands a high level of dedication and resilience.

2. Meet the Basic FBI Eligibility Requirements

Before considering a career with the FBI, ensure you meet the basic eligibility requirements:

  • Age: You must be between 23 and 36 years old. Exceptions are made for veterans who qualify for an age waiver.
  • Citizenship: You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Education: A minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is required.
  • Work Experience: At least two years of professional work experience; one year if you hold an advanced degree (master’s or higher).
  • Driver’s License: A valid driver’s license is necessary.
  • Background Check: You must pass a thorough background investigation, including a polygraph test, drug test, and credit check.

3. Obtain the Necessary Education and Skills of an FBI Agent

Educational Background

While a specific major is not mandated, degrees in criminal justice, law, cybersecurity, accounting, foreign languages, and information technology are highly regarded. Advanced degrees can also be beneficial.

Professional Experience

Work experience should demonstrate your ability to handle responsibility, think critically, and work effectively under pressure. Positions in law enforcement, military, or relevant federal agencies can be particularly advantageous.


Developing certain skills can significantly enhance your FBI Agent application:

  • Analytical Skills: Ability to analyze complex information.
  • Communication Skills: Proficiency in both written and oral communication.
  • Physical Fitness: Maintain excellent physical condition.
  • Technical Skills: Proficiency in computers and technology, especially in cybersecurity.
  • Foreign Languages: Fluency in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish can be particularly valuable.

4. Complete the FBI Agent Application Process

The FBI Agent application process is extensive and competitive:

  1. FBI Application Submission: Apply through the FBI’s official website, providing detailed information about your education and work experience.
  2. FBI Phase I Testing: This includes cognitive, behavioral, and logical reasoning tests.
    Many people ask if you get an invite to the FBI Phase 1 Exam. The answer is yes. You’ll receive an invitation from the FBI to schedule your FBI Phase 1 test. You will have up to 21 days from the invitation date to complete the test.
    The FBI Phase I test will take approximately three hours to complete and will measure your aptitude for the critical thinking and reasoning skills required to perform the special agent job. The FBI Phase 1 test will assess whether or not you’d be a good fit for the environment special agents work in.
    The FBI Phase 1 Test consists of Logic-based Reasoning, Figural Reasoning, Personality Assessment, Preferences and Interests, and Situational Judgment.
    It is crucial you excel on this exam. If you do not have outstanding performance, you will not be able to continue with the application and recruitment process. With the FBI Phase 1 Test passing rate only being 30%, proper preparation for this exam is critical. Peterson’s FBI Phase I Test Prep has two full-length FBI Phase I practice tests that will help you prepare for the FBI Phase I Exam.
  3. FBI Interview: If you perform well on your FBI Phase I Exam, you’ll be invited for an interview to assess suitability.
  4. Phase II Testing: The FBI Phase II Test is a two part exam that  includes a writing assessment and a structured interview. Once you receive an invitation for the Phase II Writing Assessment, you will need to sign up at a local PSI testing center and complete the assessment within 14 days.
    Once you’ve completed the Phase II Writing Assessment, you will receive an email invitation to the Phase II Structured Interview. This is constructed at a regional site.
    If you fail Phase II testing, you may be eligible for one retest at least one year from your interview data, if you’re invited to retake. Not all applicants will be invited to retest. If you are interested in retesting, you must reapply to the current special agent posting.
  5. The FBI Physical Fitness Test (PFT): This exam will measure your physical readiness through a series of exercises including sit-ups, push-ups, a 300-meter sprint, and a 1.5-mile run
  6. FBI Background Investigation: A comprehensive background check, including a polygraph test, will be conducted to ensure your reliability and trustworthiness.

5. Attend the FBI Academy

Once you pass the application process, you will be invited to attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The FBI training program lasts approximately 20 weeks and includes:

  • Classroom Instruction: Covers law, ethics, forensics, behavioral science, and investigative techniques
  • Physical Training: Enhances your physical capabilities to handle the demands of the job
  • Firearms Training: Teaches safe and effective use of firearms
  • Operational Skills: Includes driving, defensive tactics, and practical application exercises.

6. FBI Field Office Assignment

Upon successful completion of the FBI Academy, new FBI agents are assigned to one of the FBI’s 56 field offices across the United States. Assignments are based on the needs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and may not always align with your personal preference.

7. Continuing Education and Career Advancement

FBI agents are encouraged to pursue continuing education and specialized training throughout their careers. Opportunities for FBI advancement include positions in specialized units, supervisory roles, and executive positions within the FBI.

Becoming an FBI agent is a rigorous and demanding process that requires proper preparation, dedication, resilience, and a commitment to public service. By meeting the educational and physical requirements, gaining relevant experience, and successfully navigating the application process, you can begin a fulfilling career dedicated to protecting the nation and upholding the law.