SPECIAL AGENT CAREER PATH PROGRAM
After the successful completion of a background investigation and an appointment into a New Agents Class, Special Agent applicants will be designated into one of five career paths: Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Counterterrorism, Criminal, or Cyber. In addition, applicants appointed to either Counterintelligence or Counterterrorism may receive a further specialty nomination to Weapons of Mass Destruction matters. This specialty appointment is based upon the applicant’s education, prior employment, preference as well as their knowledge, skills, and abilities. With all five career paths overseeing intelligence and investigative activities, specifics on each division are as follows:
Directorate of Intelligence
The mission of the intelligence program is to optimally position the FBI to meet current and emerging national security and criminal threats by:
- Aiming core investigative work proactively against threats to U.S. interests,
- Building and sustaining enterprise-wide intelligence policies and, capabilities, and
- Providing useful, appropriate, and timely information and analysis to national security, homeland security and law enforcement community.
The FBI is responsible for identifying and neutralizing ongoing national security threats. The Counterintelligence Division provides centralized management and oversight for all Foreign Counterintelligence (FCI) investigations. It ensures that offensive operations and investigations are fully coordinated with the U. S. Intelligence Community, and focused on those countries, foreign powers, or entities which pose the most significant threat to the United States. The investigative priorities of the FCI Program are to:
- Prevent or neutralize the foreign acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) technology or equipment;
- Prevent the penetration of the U.S. Intelligence Community;
- Prevent the penetration of U.S. Government agencies or contractors;
- Prevent the compromise of U.S. Critical National Assets; and
- Conduct aggressive counterintelligence operations focusing on those countries that constitute the most significant threat to U.S. Strategic interests.
The Counterterrorism Division was established to oversee the following priorities:
Criminal Investigative Division
- To detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist sleeper cells in the United States before they act;
- To identify and prevent acts of terrorism by individuals with a terrorist agenda acting alone;
- To detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist support networks, including financial support networks;
- To enhance our capability to quickly ascertain the reliability, implications, and details of terrorist threats and to improve our capacity to disseminate threat-related information to local, state, and federal agencies, and to the private sector as needed; and
- To enhance our overall contribution to the U.S. Intelligence Community and to senior policy makers in government by providing timely and accurate in-depth analysis of the terrorist threats and other information of value on an on-going basis.
The Criminal Investigative Division (CID) coordinates, manages, and directs investigative programs focused on financial crime, violent crime, organized crime, public corruption, violation of individual civil rights, drug related crime, and informant matters associated with these investigative areas. The CID guides the investigative efforts of field offices against criminal enterprises and individual federal crimes in the continental and territorial United States, as well as internationally.
The Cyber Division identifies and neutralizes the most significant individuals or groups conducting computer intrusions, the dissemination of malicious code, or other computer supported operations. The Cyber Division investigates online predators or groups that sexually exploit and endanger children for personal or financial gain. An operation targeting the United States intellectual property also falls within the scope of the Cyber Division. The Cyber Division neutralizes the most significant perpetrators of Internet fraud.
The Beginning: The FBI Academy
All Special Agent trainees begin their career at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia for approximately 21 weeks of intensive training at one of the world's finest law enforcement training facilities.
During their time at the FBI Academy, trainees live
on-campus and participate in a broad range of training activities. Classroom hours are spent studying a wide variety of academic
and investigative subjects. The FBI Academy curriculum also includes intensive training in physical fitness, defensive tactics,
practical application exercises, and the use of firearms. Several tests will be administered in all of these areas to monitor trainees’
Special Agent trainees at the FBI Academy will be administered the Physical Fitness Test during the first, seventh, and fourteenth
week of their training. Those trainees who fail the Physical Fitness Test during week one will be placed in a remedial program
and will be subject to certain administrative restrictions. The restrictions include no overnight departures from the Academy
until the trainee passes the Physical Fitness Test. Trainees who fail the week-one Physical Fitness Test and the week-seven Physical
Fitness Test will be dismissed from New Agent Training, absent extreme extenuating circumstances.
Special Agent trainees are paid as GS-10, step 1 (on the Law Enforcement Officers’ salary table) plus the Quantico, VA locality adjustment (17.50%) during their time at the FBI Academy. This equates to $51,043 on an annualized basis (or $1,963 per each two-week pay period).
All Special Agent trainees must successfully complete all of the training requirements in order to graduate from the FBI Academy.
Upon graduation, trainees are sworn in as FBI Special Agents.
Your First Assignment
Newly appointed Special Agents are assigned to one of the FBI's 56 field offices based on the current staffing and/or critical
specialty needs. New Agents are given the opportunity to rank their desired locations. While consideration is given to these
preferences, the first office assignment is based upon the staffing needs of the FBI. Also, please note that all Special Agents
are subject to transfer at any time to meet the organizational and program needs of the FBI. Special Agents accept the possibility
of transfer as a condition of their employment.
A new Special Agent can generally expect to remain in his/her first office of assignment for approximately three years. During
their first two-year probationary period, new Special Agents are guided by a veteran Special Agent who will mentor them and help
them apply the lessons learned at the FBI Academy. New agents initially assigned to a small- or medium-sized field office are
generally transferred to a large field office at the end of their third year.
Newly assigned Special Agents are paid as GS-10, step 1 ($43,441) plus locality pay and availability pay. Locality pay (which ranges from 12.5% to 28.7% of base salary depending upon office assignment) is additional compensation to account for differences in the labor market between different areas. Availability pay is a 25% increase in adjusted salary (base salary + locality pay) for all Special Agents due to their requirement to average a 50-hour work week over the course of the year. Thus, with the locality and availability pay adjustments, new Special Agents in their first Field Offices earn between $61,100 and $69,900, depending upon the region of the country to which they are assigned.
New Special Agents assigned to certain designated high-cost offices (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington D.C., Boston and Newark) may also be paid a one-time relocation bonus of approximately $22,000 to help offset higher real estate and living costs. In order to qualify for the relocation bonus, new Special Agents must be assigned to one of the designated high-cost offices and they must be moving from a lower cost area to a different geographical area with a higher cost of living.
A new Special Agent assigned to Washington, D.C. would make a base salary of $43,441 (GS-10, step 1 on the Law Enforcement Officers’ salary table) + locality pay of $7,602 (based on Washington, D.C.’s locality adjustment of 17.50%) + availability pay of $12,761 (25% of base + locality) for a total salary of $63,804 their first year. If the new Special Agent qualified for the relocation bonus (e.g., moving from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.), they would also receive a one-time payment of approximately $22,000.
As an FBI employee, Special Agents are also entitled to a variety of benefits, including group health and life insurance programs, vacation and sick pay, and a full retirement plan.
More details about employment benefits.
Advancement Opportunities And Government Pay Scale
Throughout their career with the FBI, Special Agents can qualify for additional training, and for promotion to a variety of
managerial and executive positions. Special Agents enter as GS 10 employees on the law enforcement government pay scale and can
advance to the GS 13 grade level in field, non-supervisory assignments. Promotions to supervisory, management, and executive
positions are available in grades GS 14 and GS 15 as well as in the FBI Senior Executive Service.
For more information on the government pay scale, please visit the Office of Personnel Management’s
"Salaries and Wages" webpage.