According to its website, FBI agents never have a “typical day.” A Monday might be spent meeting with a source to gather intelligence or even making an arrest— while on Tuesday, an agent might while away the day in an office, catching up on paperwork.
Some FBI agents work in laboratories, others in public affairs; and not all directly fight crime.
But every agent, according to Peter Sursi, section chief of the FBI’s human resources division, helps the bureau achieve its mission to investigate terrorism, corruption, and organized crime.
“The FBI is made up of all types of individuals, ranging from cultural, educational, lifestyle and a wide range of professional backgrounds,” Sursi tells ClearanceJobs. “The diverse perspectives and experiences that each individual brings to the FBI helps us to accomplish our mission.” The bureau employs more than 35,000 people across its various divisions, according to its website.
If you’d like to work at the FBI and join in that mission, here’s everything you need to know.
What it’s like to work at the FBI
The FBI is led by a director and a team of senior leadership. Its branches include national security; intelligence; criminal, cyber, response, and services; science and technology; information and technology; and human resources—each with their own teams.
The FBI has offices around the world—including 56 field offices, more than 350 satellite offices, and more than 60 international legal attachés—with its headquarters located in Washington, D.C.
According to its website, its core values—and culture—center around “rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States,” respect for those it protects, compassion, fairness, personal and institutional integrity, accountability and responsibility for actions, leadership, and diversity.
What you need: A top-secret clearance and college education
Every FBI agent—whether they work at a desk in communications, in a laboratory processing samples, or are out in the field each day—needs top-secret clearance, says Sursi. (To learn more about top-secret clearance and what getting it entails, be sure to read this ClearanceJobs article.)
And while the FBI “encourages those with all types of educational backgrounds to apply,” Sursi says, most jobs require at least some college education—with many requiring advanced degrees. Everything from internships to executive-level positions are available at the bureau, Sursi says.
Lastly, in order to be considered eligible for employment with the FBI, applicants must be U.S. citizens, willing to take (and pass) a drug test—and adhere to the bureau’s pre-employment drug policy—and pass an FBI background investigation check, Sursi says. Employment disqualifiers include conviction of a felony; default on a government-issued student loan; failure to pay child support; failure to file federal, state, or local taxes; and attempting to overthrow the government.
In-demand jobs: Special Agents, IT, and Victim-Support Specialists
At publication, the FBI’s most in-demand jobs are those of special agents and IT professionals, Sursi says. “Mainstream media has brought a lot of attention to the Special Agents positions,” he says, “but what many aren’t aware of is that anyone can apply to be a Special Agent—if they meet the requirements. You don’t need a law enforcement background to qualify.” When it comes to IT positions, the FBI needs people who build data solutions, develop mission-critical applications, and keep its networks and systems safe from cyber criminals, Sursi describes.
Another FBI-insider told ClearanceJobs that the bureau currently needs attorneys and victim-support specialists—people who assist victims of FBI-investigated crimes through several programs, which include the Victim and Witness Assistance, Terrorism and Special Jurisdictions, Child Victim Services, and Child Pornography Victim Assistance programs. Victim-support specialists also equip other FBI agents on how to effectively work with victims.