I was asked recently how I got “targeted” for the FBI. It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked that question. While I can’t speak for other agencies, I can say the FBI doesn’t “target recruit” per se. Sure, it’s called recruitment and FBI applicant coordinators do outreach and follow-up on interested applicants, but they don’t “draft” individuals as is often portrayed on TV. In reality, everyone has to go through the same application process which, to be honest, can be long and frustrating. It’s definitely a test of an applicant’s endurance to make it through the delays, hoops, setbacks, and unknowns. And if you do make it through, don’t think you’re done with the bureaucracy. After all, your new employer isn’t called the Federal BUREAU of Investigation for nothing. So, keep that sense of humor close!

The place where it all starts these days is fbijobs.gov. There you’ll find information on the wide variety of the positions available at the Bureau. And yes, there are lots of jobs besides Special Agent! The Professional Staff includes Analysts, Forensic Accountants, Forensic Specialists, Attorneys, Linguists and a host of other great positions. If you don’t have any interest in being a Special Agent (or are over 37 and don’t qualify for the few Special Agent age exceptions), still take a look! There are some basic eligibility qualifications for any FBI position so do read through those first before starting the whole application process. Once you ‘ve done that and explored the website, you’ll probably be directed to the applicant squad at your local FBI office. Good luck!!

As for how I actually joined, I was working as a local prosecutor when some colleagues suggested that I should consider the FBI. The prospect sounded intriguing, but I was concerned that some of my personality quirks, specifically my habit of questioning authority if something didn’t sound right, might not do well in a structured environment like the FBI. Still, I couldn’t shake the fascination (and was really into the X-files at the time). I thought that if I made it through and didn’t like it, I could always leave, right?

So, I applied. Did I mention the application process could be long and tedious? For me, it took about two years. Granted, I moved to another state in the middle of applying and my applicant files got lost (or misplaced or something, I never actually found out) so I had to re-do some paperwork, fit tests, and medical exams. Still, I persisted and was awarded a slot. I was 35 when I first applied and by law, I had to be in a New Agent class by the time I turned 37. I made it by six weeks, celebrating my 37th birthday at Quantico (more on Quantico later). Whew! Having made it through all that, was I going to give it up? Not likely.

After 20 years though, and sadly not finding one X-file, I’d reached the mandatory federal law enforcement retirement age and had to say goodbye. It was time, and I’d had a good run. Surprisingly, my tendency to question the status quo had often been a help rather than a hindrance. Still, I was glad I’d also retained my sense of humor and a strong belief in the mission as both had come in quite handy over the years as well.

In the end, there is nothing like a career in the FBI and the good you can do cannot be underestimated whether as a Special Agent or a member of the Professional Staff. I would therefore encourage anyone to take a chance and see if the FBI is for them. Best Wishes!

FBI Headquarters, Washington, DC

 

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