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  • Paths to FBI

    Hello, I have a quick question about career paths that will lead to FBI work. I'm in college and currently a Microbiology major. I'm Pre-Med but also interested in going into law enforcement. After I get my B.S., I'm thinking of applying to the local PD and working there for six years or so to be out on the street and gain experience in law enforcement, and then if I'm still interested, apply to the FBI. Another route would be to go for my Masters degree and then after a few years working in a clinical position apply to the FBI. However, this latter position would provide no street experience, which I think would be very important for the Agent position. Are either of these two paths preferred over the other, or do you think would better prepare me for work in the FBI?

  • #2
    Flip a coin. The FBI like most other fed LE agencies wants agents with a wide diversity of experiences. Therefore someone with time as a local cop can be just as likely to get hired as someone who has time working in other areas. If you look at the FBI's hiring page they have a list of critical skills they are currently seeking, and you will notice there is a lot of diversity in what they need. However, when looking at that list remember that's what they need NOW, and they made want other skills a few years from now when you're looking to apply.

    Do something you are truly interested in and will enjoy even if you never get into the FBI. That way you'll be doing something you enjoy even if you don't get accepted.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SA13 View Post
      Flip a coin. The FBI like most other fed LE agencies wants agents with a wide diversity of experiences. Therefore someone with time as a local cop can be just as likely to get hired as someone who has time working in other areas. If you look at the FBI's hiring page they have a list of critical skills they are currently seeking, and you will notice there is a lot of diversity in what they need. However, when looking at that list remember that's what they need NOW, and they made want other skills a few years from now when you're looking to apply.

      Do something you are truly interested in and will enjoy even if you never get into the FBI. That way you'll be doing something you enjoy even if you don't get accepted.
      Above is an excellent reply. Years ago, the J.Edgar Hoover FBI wanted degrees in either Law or Accounting. Thankfully, that has been changed to just about any Liberal Arts degree. What you might want to consider in your thinking is that the FBI is not a "street policing" organization. Certainly, any experience you gain working for a city, county, or state can be valuable in a subsequent FBI career. It is not a requirement though. Your current educational situation sounds awesome. One thought in parting. Should you apply to a local LE agency,I think I'd keep my FBI thoughts to myself. Some agencies can be a little "touchy" in these areas. Whatever you decide, best of luck.

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      • #4
        Thank you for the replies. I've talked to my dad about this (he has been in the State Police for 20 years now) and I can definitely understand (from the outside of course) why local/state departments can be a little touch about the FBI. I've always been interested in FBI work though because of the large scope of the investigations and the complexity of the work. Of course, if I become a local cop I could very well end up loving it too much to leave it

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        • #5
          Originally posted by jmacman View Post
          I've always been interested in FBI work though because of the large scope of the investigations and the complexity of the work.
          Other fed agencies, and state and local agencies have a "large scope" of investigations, and a great deal of "complexity" to those cases. If you want to be an FBI agent great, but it's best to explore ALL your options rather than just go to the big agency with the very good PR machine.

          Good luck.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the replies! Yes, I've also thought about the DEA and ATF, but I know much less about them. It seems like the FBI has a broader range of laws that they enforce, while other federal agencies are much more focused in on a certain set of laws, is this true or a myth that I've picked up? Do you all have any links to places with a good amount of information on either of these two organizations, or is it a simple google search? I have a few years of studying ahead of me to find out what I want to do.

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            • #7
              Entry to the FBI

              Sorry to hijack the thread, but I was looking to post a thread on this same subject. I have a friend who's working on her B.S. in Criminal Justice, and would like to eventually become an FBI agent upon completion of her degree. She's been told that she would have to become a police officer for a few years before going to the FBI. Unfortunately, she does not want to become a police officer....AT ALL!!!! So, my question is, do you need to have a few years as an LEO to join the FBI, or can you join straight out of college? Thanks!
              "A man is a fool if he tries to pet the dog that once bit him."- Cheif William Gillespie

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              • #8
                From what I've read on their site (so I'm not expert), if you have a Bachelor's you need about 4 years of work experience before applying, and if you have a Master's you need 2-3 years of work experience before applying. I've heard the average age of Agents hired now is between 28-32, so I doubt they will hire straight out of college. However, you don't have to be a police officer for your work experience, you can do other things.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jmacman View Post
                  From what I've read on their site (so I'm not expert), if you have a Bachelor's you need about 4 years of work experience before applying, and if you have a Master's you need 2-3 years of work experience before applying. I've heard the average age of Agents hired now is between 28-32, so I doubt they will hire straight out of college. However, you don't have to be a police officer for your work experience, you can do other things.

                  Ohhhhhhhhh....ok. And as far as work experience, is there a particular field that the FBI looks for in an applicant (i.e. Law Enforcement, Investigations), or can it be just any kind of work experience (Retail, Fast Food)??
                  "A man is a fool if he tries to pet the dog that once bit him."- Cheif William Gillespie

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                  • #10
                    They don't have a specific area you must have experience in, but there are areas that are emphasized for you to apply under (such as language, engineering, law, etc.). All the info is available at fbi.gov though.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PhilosophyNerd View Post
                      She's been told that she would have to become a police officer for a few years before going to the FBI.
                      No, the FBI hires from a diverse field of backgrounds, and many people were not local cops prior to going the FBI. However, with just a CJ degree she will need some other qualifying full time work experience before she will be eligible to be hired.
                      Unfortunately, she does not want to become a police officer....AT ALL!!!!
                      Why not? The last thing the FBI or any of us feds need is another agent who is reluctant to do the dirty work of being a cop, and will reinforce outdated stereotypes about feds among local cops.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jmacman View Post
                        It seems like the FBI has a broader range of laws that they enforce, while other federal agencies are much more focused in on a certain set of laws, is this true or a myth that I've picked up?
                        While it's true the other agencies are little more focused, there is still a great deal of diversity in their investigations. For example take the ATF. Agents could be working armed narcotics trafficking organizations like MS-13 or the Bandidos motorcycle gang. They might work murder for hire investigations, Hobbs Act violations, carjackings, home invasion crews, etc. If violent crime with guns isn't your thing there other areas. They might also work explosives cases, including investigating bombings, or people trafficking in stolen or illegally manufactured explosives and destructive devices. You could be working arsons, which could range from insurance fraud to murder. There could also be alcohol and tobacco tax diversion cases. Take all of that, guns, bombs, fire, tax cases, and you get into a wide variety of criminals. Everything from the lone serial torch to huge organized crime using violence and complicated tax diversion schemes. There is everything from the one dangerous armed career criminal carrying a gun, to the big organized crime committing a variety of crimes, from violence and tax diversion to money laundering to hide their criminal proceeds.

                        It's similar at DEA, ICE, USPIS, NCIS, etc, etc.

                        The key to remember is if you want to work international drug smugglers, DEA does drugs. With the FBI you might never do a drug conspiracy case, and only do white collar crime or counter-intel. If you want to work violent crime cases, you might get lucky and get assigned to a violent crime squad with the Bureau, or you might not. However, with ATF you are very likely to work violent crime because their mission is primarily focused on crimes committed with guns, bombs, and fire. Want to do international smuggling whether it's products, people, or animals? Well ICE is doing those cases. So does the FBI to a limited degree, but again you might not get to do those.
                        Do you all have any links to places with a good amount of information on either of these two organizations, or is it a simple google search?
                        Sure, start by reading some of the press releases at the websites of various agencies you're interested in, and there are dozens out there. You may also want to get the book "Federal Law Enforcement Careers" by Thomas Ackerman. http://911hotjobs.com/test-materials...h=&category=18

                        I would also suggest researching what opportunities are available in local LE, as there are many. Too many people have a warped view that fed LE is somehow better, or more important. It's not, it's just different.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jmacman View Post
                          They don't have a specific area you must have experience in, but there are areas that are emphasized for you to apply under (such as language, engineering, law, etc.). All the info is available at fbi.gov though.
                          Keep in mind the Critical Skills areas for the FBI can and do change, so don't pick an academic degree or job simply to qualify under the current Critical Skills, as they may not be emphasizing the same areas when you're ready to apply. Again, I suggest you do something you are truly interested in and will enjoy even if you never get into the FBI. That way you'll be doing something you enjoy even if you don't get accepted.

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                          • #14
                            OK, I have to be a [email protected]!
                            Quickest path to the FBI:
                            1. Rob a bank
                            2. Counterfeit money

                            Anyone else?

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                            • #15
                              On a serious not, it depends on what type of background they need at the time. Nowadays, they are looking for people who speak Arabic and other languages. I would contact a recruiter or the closest FBI office and ask what type of backgrounds and degrees they are currently looking for and go from there. Good luck.

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