Many people are interested in joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While some always had a passion for law enforcement, others are initially intrigued by what they see in movies and TV shows. Regardless of what got you interested in becoming a federal agent, you should know that the application process is lengthy and extensive. Furthermore, the job of an agent may be more complex and diverse than you think.
The first thing you need to know is that the FBI is one of six agencies within the United States Justice Department. Its core purpose is to protect citizens and enforce federal laws. The investigates a range of crimes including terrorism, counterintelligence, cybercrime, public corruption, organized crime, and white-collar crime. Despite the frequent romanticism, and the FBI has a serious job. Individuals from various types of backgrounds can apply since the bureau wants special agents with a wide range of skills and experiences. There are roles for people with science, language, business, technology, and law enforcement expertise.
If you live in Arizona, you may want to become an agent there. They’re main field office is in Phoenix but there are also seven resident agencies throughout the state. However, if you apply and get accepted, you can be sent to any of the 56 field offices in the country.
Requirements to Become an FBI Agent in Arizona
There are some basic requirements you must meet if you want to join in any capacity. You must be a US citizen between 23 and 36 years old with a valid driver’s license and at least six months of driving experience.
You must also have a bachelor’s degree, at a minimum, from a US-accredited four-year institution. They requires you to have at least two years of full-time work experience or one year if you have a master’s degree or higher. You must also be able to meet the required physical fitness standards.
If you are on active military duty, you must be scheduled to complete your service within one year before you submit your application.
It is also worth noting that you will need to report to one of the Field Offices for interviews and testing multiple times. This will be at your own expense in the initial stages. If you need to travel from the Processing Field Office for Phase II testing, the FBI will absorb the cost.
Steps to Become an FBI Agent in Arizona
1. Application & Screening
The first thing you will need to do is to fill out an online application form and attach a number of documents. These include transcripts, DD-214 forms for ex-members of the armed forces and enlistment contracts for current members. Your application will be screened to determine whether you are eligible to continue the process. If you are currently living outside the United States, you will have to return to the country for testing at your own expense. You can choose the field office which is most convenient for you.
2. Phase I: Exam
If you pass the preliminary screening, you will be asked to take the Phase I exam. It is a three-hour computerized test which is taken in a proctored environment. You will be assessed in five areas: figural reasoning, logic-based reasoning, personality assessment, situational judgment, and preferences and interests.
3. Required Information
After you complete your application and pass the Phase I test, you will receive an email inviting you to complete the Required Information section of your application. This includes Self-Reported Language and Critical Skills sections along with a Special Agent Physical Fitness Test self-evaluation.
4. Meet and Greet/Review Process
Once this part of the process is complete, you will need to attend a Meet and Greet session conducted by your Processing Field Office. During the session, one or more evaluators will review your application in person and confirm the information you submitted on the form. This will determine whether you can move on to Phase II.
5. Phase II: Writing Exercise & Interview
If you make it to Phase II, you will have to do a writing assessment and attend a structured interview conducted by three Special Agents. You should get the results of this evaluation within two weeks.
6. Physical Fitness Test
Having passed Phase II, you will have to take a Physical Fitness Test. It will be conducted at the Arizona Field Office and it will be overseen by personnel. It will be scored in the same way as the self-assessment you undertook.
7. Conditional Appointment Offer
If you pass both the Phase II exercise and the officer Physical Fitness Test, you will receive a Conditional Appointment Offer from them. You will still have to undergo other evaluations as part of the Special Agent Selection System (SASS). This includes a medical test, polygraph test, and background check. You will be allowed five days to accept or reject the offer.
8. Background Investigation
To become an FBI agent, you will need to get Top Secret Clearance. To do this, you will have to undergo an extensive background investigation. This includes a Personnel Security Interview, drug test and fingerprinting. They will also conduct credit checks, interviews with your associates and credit checks. They will also verify your educational achievements.
9. Basic Field Training Course (BFTC)
If everything goes well up until this point, you will be eligible to attend the Academy in Quantico, VA. That’s where you will take the Basic Field Training Course. Assignment to the course is based on the needs at varying times so you will not be an automatic shoo-in. As a New Agent Trainee, you will be paid for your time, but you must complete all the training before you can be hired as an FBI Special Agent.
Things That Will Disqualify You from Becoming an FBI Agent
Given how the extensive the above process is, you don’t want to begin it if you will be disqualified during an interview or background check. Some of the things that are non-negotiable are:
- Not being a US citizen
- Having been convicted of a felony, domestic violence misdemeanor or a more serious offense
- Having violated the FBI’s drug policy
- Defaulting on a US Government-insured student loan
- Failing to take a urine test administered
- Failing to pay child support as ordered by the court
- Failing to file income tax returns
- Engaging in acts designed to overthrow the US Government by force
Duration to Become an FBI Agent in Arizona
Given the critical role they plays in national security, the agency needs to ensure it selects the best agents. These are people who demonstrate high levels of integrity and honesty as well as physical fitness and mental toughness. They become part of an elite team. That’s why the SASS process is so rigorous. It takes at least a year to complete the selection and very often, it’s longer.
The length of the initial screening process varies a lot. It can depend on how thoroughly you completed the application forms, how many people have applied, and the personnel the bureau needs at the time. If you follow the guidelines on the website carefully, this can help to speed things up.
Some steps need to be completed in short order while others can take a long time. For example, if you are invited to take the Phase I Test, you have 21 days within which to schedule it. You find out whether you’ve passed or failed within an hour of taking the test. However, moving from Phase I to Phase II can take about six months.
You will have two weeks after passing Phase II to take the Physical Fitness Test unless there is inclement weather. Since this turnaround time is quick, some field offices schedule the PFT before candidates take their Phase II assessment.
Your background check can take as little as six months or as much as 18 months depending on where you’ve worked, lived and traveled.
Stints at the BFTC run for 21 weeks and you usually get about two to four notice before training starts. You can only change the date once, provided you have a good reason.
Salary of an FBI Agent in Arizona
FBI agents are paid according to the Federal Government’s General Schedule scale. Your pay can, therefore, range between $55, 231 and $112, 440 annually. As a New Agent Trainee, your pay will be at the lower end since you begin as GL-10. Along with your base pay, you get locality pay for Washington, D.C. as well as availability pay. After you graduate, your field office will adjust your pay according to your assignment. You transition to the GS pay scale after a two-year probationary period.
If you’re considering becoming an FBI agent in Arizona, you need to review the process carefully. Becoming an agent is a serious undertaking and the bureau will carry out extensive investigations. The screening process will be both mentally and physically taxing so you need to be prepared. The website has lots of helpful information which you should read thoroughly before you begin. If you’re wondering if any incident from your past could jeopardize your chances of becoming an agent, visit legal Jackson White Law for advice.