If you are interested in learning how to get a job with the FBI, especially as a veteran, it helps to remember that in spite of the imposing name of this federal agency, it is still a federal organization with specific hiring practices, hiring preferences, and government standards to live up to.
That means that the hiring process, while quite competitive depending on the nature of the job you seek with the FBI, is fairly predictable in certain ways for those who have entered the federal hiring system in the past.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Defined
It is important to define the nature of the FBI–the agency’s official site states it is “an intelligence-driven and threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the “principal investigative arm” of the U.S. Department of Justice and the agency functions as a “full member of the U.S. Intelligence Community.” The FBI should not be confused with the National Security Agency (NSA) which conducts intelligence gathering and counterintelligence.
The FBI is also not the same as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which also has a distinctly separate role from the FBI, functioning outside the U.S. whereas the FBI conducts operations at home. All three of these agencies contribute in some way to the national defense, intelligence, and more.
Employment Opportunities At The FBI
It is crucial for potential new applicants to understand that the FBI has many different types of jobs and not all of them involve directly fighting crime or performing field investigations. The FBI job most people are likely to think of at first is the Special Agent, but there are other positions that include:
- Intelligence analysis
- Forensic accounting
- Language analysis
There are also “specialized career paths” including options for security, legal, IT, facilities and logistics, even a category called “arts and entertainment.” It’s helpful to remember that an FBI Special Agent is someone who works specifically in the job titled “Special Agent” and that not all jobs at the FBI are designated as such.
Who Can Apply For An FBI Job?
General FBI job eligibility includes the following requirements:
- Must be a U.S. Citizen
- Must be able to obtain a Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance
- Must be in compliance with the FBI Drug Policy
To become an FBI Special Agent, the following criteria (and more) must be met:
- Be between 23 and 36 years of age
- Possess a bachelor’s degree from a U.S.-accredited college or university
- At least two years of full-time professional work experience OR one year and an advanced degree
- Own a valid driver’s license
- Must have six months of driving experience
- If you are currently on active duty in the military, you must be within one year of completing your service before submitting your application
- FBI employees who are not Special Agents must apply for Special Agent jobs prior to their 39th birthday and must be assigned to the FBI Academy no later than the month of their 40th birthday
The FBI official site has a list of issues that can disqualify an applicant for consideration for an FBI job. Any of the following may be considered an “instant no” from the FBI including but not limited to:
- Non-U.S. citizenship
- Conviction of a felony
- Special Agent candidates only: conviction of a domestic violence misdemeanor or more serious offense
- Violation of the FBI Employment Drug Policy
- Default on a government-issued student loan
- Failure of an FBI-administered urinalysis
- Failure to register with the Selective Service System (certain exceptions apply)
- Engaged in acts to overthrow the U.S. government
- Failure to pay court ordered child support
- Failure to file federal, state, or local income tax returns
All FBI job applicants must pass a background check. Veterans are encouraged to apply for FBI jobs and there is veteran hiring preference offered to qualifying veterans including veteran’s preference points awarded and age requirement waivers for those who were honorably discharged from active duty service.
How To Apply For A Job With The FBI
Those who are still serving on active duty with an interest in applying for FBI jobs may do so, but be aware of the requirement mentioned above that active duty applicants be within one year of completing your final assignment.
Military applicants, whether veteran or not, should become familiar with the federal resume template (see the official site at FBIJobs.gov to find this template) and you will need a copy of your DD Form 214 (military discharge documentation) or the Guard/Reserve equivalent where applicable.
Applying for the jobs themselves requires creating an account at the official job listing site, FBIJobs.gov. You must register for an account before you can search for FBI job postings, but once your account has been created you can upload electronic copies of all documents including the DD Form 214, resumes, cover letters, college transcripts, etc.
Be advised that you may be required to submit transcripts and other proof of attendance/graduation for any college program listed on your resume–it’s best to obtain all transcripts as far in advance as possible.
All applications submitted must be completed by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date of the job posting/vacancy announcement. That includes all required transcripts and other documentation.
Those applying for Special Agent positions are required to complete a physical fitness self evaluation and include the results in the application data submitted.
Once you submit a job application you cannot make changes to it, so it’s best to make certain your submission is as correct as possible prior to sending. If the FBI is interested in your application, you will be contacted by FBI Human Resources–all email from the FBI will have the @fbi.gov extension. Make sure your email spam filter settings are adjusted to avoid FBI email being caught in the filter.
After submitting an application, all FBI job seekers should be prepared to report to one of 56 FBI field offices for interviews and testing. This may be required multiple times during the process and all potential hires are responsible for their own travel to and from these facilities.
As mentioned above, veterans and active duty military may qualify for veteran preference points–as many as ten extra points may be applicable depending on the veteran, status as a disabled veteran, etc.
Those who are applying for FBI jobs with VA-rated disabilities or other medical issues may qualify for the FBI Wounded Warrior program. This is an internship opportunity for qualifying disabled veterans to get FBI support, “during their medical recovery” as well as getting FBI assistance with “career development opportunities for active duty service members recovering from a medical procedure.”
How does this program help wounded vets? The FBI official site says its hiring managers view the WWIP “as a working interview opportunity to evaluate candidates for possible permanent employment.” The Internship opportunities offered under this program are usually offered at FBI Headquarters as well as U.S. field offices. You can learn more about these internships at the FBI official site.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News