Television shows like “Criminal Minds” call attention to the work of the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While the activities of BAU profilers may be glamorized for dramatic purposes on TV, the jobs are interesting and exciting in their own right. These FBI agents assist local law enforcement by developing psychological profiles of unknown offenders and investigating such criminal offenses as serial and mass murders, kidnappings and serial rapes.
There is no specific FBI job title of “profiler,” as they are called on TV. Those who develop the psychological profiles to help identify criminal suspects are the Supervisory Special Agents assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, located in Quantico, Virginia. To qualify to become a Special Agent, the applicant must be between 18 and 36 1/2 years old and a U.S. citizen. He must have a four-year degree from an accredited college or university and at least three years of professional work experience with a high level of difficulty, and he must have a valid driver’s license and be willing to travel or relocate.
Law Enforcement Experience
Before an agent can join the BAU, he is likely to have had between seven and 10 years of experience as an FBI agent. According to SSA Mark Hilts, half the agents in his squad were formerly police officers, so local law enforcement experience is valuable in building investigative skills and expertise.
Everyone applying for a Special Agent position must first qualify for one of five Special Entry Programs: Accounting, Computer Science/Information Technology, Language, Law and Diversified. The Accounting Program requires CPA certification or a four-year degree majoring in accounting. The Computer Science/IT program requires a computer, IT or related degree. For the Language program, the applicant must have a B.S. or B.A. in any discipline and proficiency in an FBI-qualified language. A Law program applicant must have a J.D. from an accredited law school. The Diversified program requires a B.A. or B.S. in any discipline plus three years of professional work experience or an advanced degree. Applicants must also pass a test of physical requirements.
Special Agent Training
An aspiring BAU agent must first serve at least three years as a general special agent. New agent training typically lasts 20 weeks. This includes 800 hours of education in academics, case exercises, firearms training, operational skills and physical training. Academics work includes law, behavioral science, interviewing techniques and criminal investigations. The case exercises training explores tests of real-life situations and field scenarios. Firearms training covers marksmanship and safety using pistols, carbines and shotguns. Operational skills training includes surveillance, defensive tactics, disarming and searches. In addition, trainees are tested on such physical challenges as sprints, pushups and a 1.5-mile run.
The Application Process
To start the application process, applicants set up a profile on the USAJOBS web site, using the resume creator function to build a resume. The application requires a copy of college transcripts, military documents if applicable and resume. Candidates for all FBI jobs undergo a background investigation. As of June 2014, a notice on the FBI Careers web site states that the FBI Special Agent application is currently closed with a new posting date to be determined.
- Department of Justice: 2013 FBI Special Agent Application
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Careers: The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime and its Employment Opportunities
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Careers: Special Agent Frequently Asked Questions
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation: Behavioral Analysts
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Careers: FBI Special Agent Entry Programs
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: New Agent Training
- USAJOBS: Create an Account
- Photo Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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