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Planning For A Federal LE Position

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  • Planning For A Federal LE Position

    Greetings all, I wanted to plumb the knowledge of this board to see if anyone has some good advice. I'm currently doing my best to get all my ducks in a row to apply for federal LE positions within the next few years, and I obviously want to be as competitive in the process as possible.

    I have an undergraduate degree and will be applying for graduate programs, and I'm interested to hear what type of degree or work experience would help the most. At the moment, I'm considering programs in law, sociology, public administration, and criminal justice. I'm also looking into the law enforcement critical skills area, but I'm a little paranoid about being a patrol officer with a JD or an unemployed bum with a MA in Sociology. Not that there's anything wrong with patrol work, of course.

    I'm interested in the FBI, but (like I read on this board) I don't want to be waiting by the phone for the prom queen to ask me out, so I'm looking into other agencies like the US Marshals. Would all federal agencies be keen on an applicant with a JD, or just the FBI? I've only seen it highlighted on the FBI's website.

    I realize that my aspirations are a few years down the road, but any and all advice would be thoroughly welcome.

  • #2
    Originally posted by BHammond1 View Post
    Greetings all, I wanted to plumb the knowledge of this board to see if anyone has some good advice. I'm currently doing my best to get all my ducks in a row to apply for federal LE positions within the next few years, and I obviously want to be as competitive in the process as possible.

    I have an undergraduate degree and will be applying for graduate programs, and I'm interested to hear what type of degree or work experience would help the most. At the moment, I'm considering programs in law, sociology, public administration, and criminal justice. I'm also looking into the law enforcement critical skills area, but I'm a little paranoid about being a patrol officer with a JD or an unemployed bum with a MA in Sociology. Not that there's anything wrong with patrol work, of course.

    I'm interested in the FBI, but (like I read on this board) I don't want to be waiting by the phone for the prom queen to ask me out, so I'm looking into other agencies like the US Marshals. Would all federal agencies be keen on an applicant with a JD, or just the FBI? I've only seen it highlighted on the FBI's website.

    I realize that my aspirations are a few years down the road, but any and all advice would be thoroughly welcome.
    Instead of focusing purely on what you think these agencies want, why don't you focus on what you want. -Any- master's degree will give you a leg up on applying to these 1811 gigs (Which I'm assuming you're focusing on since you poo poo'ed on the idea of being a patrol officer with a master's). Its all about applying yourself and presenting yourself as someone with a varied background that can bring a breadth of knowledge to the table. Go for the Masters you're most interested in, apply yourself academically, and apply when you graduate.

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    • #3
      A law degree and a year or two of criminal litigation would be very beneficial in getting hired by the FBI or any other fed agency. It would also help you do your job after you get hired.
      Last edited by SHU; 08-01-2010, 09:03 PM. Reason: my tapeworm told me too.

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      • #4
        "Im a little paranoid about being a patrol officer".... What do you mean by this ?... You would rather not work as a uniformed officer ?.. or you just do not want to do as much schooling and then end up a patrol officer ?....

        Patrol is a lot of fun, especially in Federal LE jobs.... Go on line an check us out.... www.nps.gov/uspp and then apply to take the test,,, closing date is August 6... so hurry,, after you test, you can decide if the job seems interesting enough for you..... FBI, and other "Agent " positions are great, but it is not what you see in the movies/TV... there is a lot of sitting around poring over intell, photos case files.... etc..... it just seems too boring for me IMHO.

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        • #5
          Nothing against those without JD's, but listen to lawyers regarding going to law school. While myself and many others have gone the law to 1811 route, it's a dumb idea to go to law school without plans of practicing. Becoming an attorney is far more difficult and expensive to be worth doing just because.

          Those that say getting a JD is a door opener are generally those that have never been to law school. I'm not saying law school is bad, I love that I went, I'm just saying that going with the sole purpose of ending up in Federal Law Enforcement isn't really logical.

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          • #6
            I agree with FedLaw completely. Getting that JD is very expensive and time consuming. Patrol Officer or military would be better because you will actually have "real world" experience vs. sitting in a classroom all day.

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            • #7
              Wow, I apologize profusely if I came off as obnoxious or like a tool. I'm applying to local law enforcement positions right now, and in no way, shape, or form did I mean to infer that I looked down on patrol work. Absolutely not.

              The main thrust of my initial post was just to see if there was anyone out there that could give me some advice. I feel a little stuck when it comes to choosing graduate programs, and even though I'm not expecting to start applying to federal positions for the next 5-6 years I want to get started now, sooner rather than later and all that. Again, I apologize if I sound(ed) like a jerk.

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              • #8
                You will likely need some work experience before getting hired. You don't need to be in law enforcement to get hired by law enforcement. If you can learn/prove that your non-LEA job has prepared you for the FBI, then it will be sufficient. Provided you meet the qualifications and are competitive. If you want to start off with a more "entry level" agency there are a few federal ones out there. There is the Border Patrol, Park Police, Bureau of Land Management, Secret Service Uniformed Division, Capital Police...just to name a few.

                Now if you want to move up to a "strictly" investigatory agency there are more then just the FBI. You have:

                ICE-HSI - deals with transnational crime (smuggling, fugitive aliens, trafficking, child pornography, terrorism)
                ATF - Deals with alcohol, firearms, and explosives related crimes (pretty obvious, by the name)
                DEA - deals with drug related crimes
                US Marshals - lot of deputy marshals do not do investigations, but the investigators deal with fugitives. Also investigate threats and crimes involving our court system.
                USSS - investigates financial/identity/electronic crimes related to our currency, and of course does protective work
                DSS - investigates fraud related to state department issued documents, also does protective work and advises ambassadors about security related topics overseas.
                IRS-CID - investigates crime regarded finance
                AFOSI - air force's investigatory branch
                NCIS - The navy's
                USACIDC - the army's


                There are more out there, but those are the more recognizable ones. I suggest doing some research to determine which type of cases you are interested in. Also, a lot of the duties or roles of each agency cross over to each other. For instance, a lot of ICE and FBI cases are similar, same with IRS and USSS.

                You should also know that some of these non 1811 (having special agents) agencies have investigations of their own. I know the Border Patrol and BLM have intelligence units that do investigations, and I am sure that the others do as well

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by OSUJL View Post
                  I agree with FedLaw completely. Getting that JD is very expensive and time consuming. Patrol Officer or military would be better because you will actually have "real world" experience vs. sitting in a classroom all day.
                  I'd say it's somewhere between.... The JD will get you in the door in a lot of agencies. I was simply saying going to law school is a big decision and not worth doing if you don't like the thought of being a lawyer.... Last I checked, I didn't sit in a classroom all day....

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                  • #10
                    I agree with FedLaw, pursuing a JD with the sole goal of securing a federal law enforcement position may not be the most prudent choice. In addition to being expensive--average graduate debt: $90K-- and time consuming--3 to 4 years to complete--law school is an extremely challenging endeavor. Earning a JD --a professional degree-- is not the same as earning a masters degree. I have earned both a JD and an MPA, and I found law school to be far more intellectually demanding--and stressful--than graduate school. Therefore, if you are looking to earn an advanced degree in order to distinguish yourself from other applicants, you should probably gravitate towards earning a masters degree. That being said, if you want to change the way you think for the rest of your life… go to law school. Good Luck!

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                    • #11
                      So not to look to transparent, I am an IRS CI SA. I investigate criminal violations of the tax code and related financial crimes (Money Laundering and bank secrecy).
                      Most federal crimes deal with money. FBI, DEA, DHS HSI, all have money laundering squads. Not to mention all the OIGs are fraud investigation units.
                      So accounting degree can be a real feather in your cap.
                      "From now until the end of the world, we and it shall be remembered. We few, we Band of Brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother." - William Shakespeare ("King Henry V")

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scout0315 View Post
                        So not to look to transparent, I am an IRS CI SA. I investigate criminal violations of the tax code and related financial crimes (Money Laundering and bank secrecy).
                        Most federal crimes deal with money. FBI, DEA, DHS HSI, all have money laundering squads. Not to mention all the OIGs are fraud investigation units.
                        So accounting degree can be a real feather in your cap.
                        Very, very true. Several agencies have no fraud nexus (Marshals and ATF are the only ones that come to mind), but the vast majority of federal crimes (and federal LE investigative agencies) involve financial crimes. Whether it's an Inspector General agency investigating procurement fraud against it's cabinet department or Diplomatic Security investigating passport fraud (and any number of other examples in between), an accounting or finance degree would be beneficial in just about any federal investigative agency. I'm a fraud investigator myself, and it would have made the learning curve a lot less steep.
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          edited and erased
                          Last edited by when_is_code7; 08-30-2010, 10:34 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Why not just apply? Border patrol is hiring. It's a good federal le position.
                            What is Perseverance?
                            -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
                            -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
                            -PERSEVERANCE IS TRYING AGAIN AND AGAIN.


                            BOP - BPA - ICE

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                            • #15
                              Most looked at skills are prior law enforcement or military experience and a proficiency in a foreign language can't hurt too.
                              Get a degree in whatever area you want as YOUR back-up. Some degrees might give you a leg up, but they usually won't make it or break it for you in regards to getting hired or not if everything else is in order.

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