If you are looking for a rewarding career that lets you give back to the community, you could be interested in working for the FBI. FBI agents have a variety of duties, and your job description depends on the exact path you choose. The most common title at the FBI is special agent, and these experts work hard to investigate crimes and enforce laws at the federal level. FBI agents have an average starting wage of $45,000 per year, but some people make up to $70,000 during their first year on the job.
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If you work as an FBI special agent, you will pursue organized crime, terrorist networks and cybercrimes. You will take part in investigations that can last for months or years at a time. Being an FBI special agent takes patience, intelligence, determination and physical fitness. You will take on cases much more complicated than what many local and state agencies handle.
While most people work as special agents, the FBI has many other career paths from which to choose. If you want to get your FBI career started along the correct path, it’s vital you choose the right degree program. In this guide, you will learn about the top 10 best degrees for a career at the FBI:
- Criminal Justice
- Computer Science
- Cyber Security
- Forensic Accounting
- International Studies
- Public Safety Administration
As you read, you will discover how each degree program helps you launch your FBI career, and you can use this information to choose an option that makes the most sense for you.
1. Criminal Justice
When it comes to those working at the FBI, the most common degree is a bachelor’s in criminal justice. This degree gives you an overview of the tasks you will complete and how to do them. You will go over common situations and the best ways to respond to each one, which prepares you for the work you will do once you enter the field.
During your studies, you will learn corrections, crime enforcement and more. The lessons reveal how to predict and respond to criminal behavior in a way that minimizes the damage and reduces the loss of life. You uncover proven methods to investigate crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.
As you work as an FBI agent, you will experience many unique situations. The training you get sets a strong foundation, but it can’t cover every problem you face along the way. The things you go over while studying criminal justice help you plan for future issues in a way that gives you the best odds of a favorable outcome. When you combine an education in criminal justice with the experience you get in the field, you evolve into an effective agent who knows how to do the job right.
2. Computer Science
As technology continues to advance, more people than ever use computer systems and servers to store and retrieve data. Agents at the FBI must also use technology during their daily obligations, so knowing how to use computer systems and servers is vital. As an FBI agent, you will store case files and reports on your computer, and you must transfer those files to a central database securely. Knowing how to protect your reports from prying eyes is another essential skill you can’t overlook if you want to have a successful career.
A degree in computer science prepares you for many of the technology-related tasks your work requires. You will uncover steps you can take to create, store and transfer files with safe methods that protect your data from harm. A degree in computer science prepares you for most of the challenges you will encounter related to computer systems and networks. Your lessons show you how to keep malware and other harmful programs off your computer so that you can have peace of mind. The FBI always needs computer experts to keep their servers online, and you will be the perfect person for the job.
Cybercrimes are becoming more prevalent each year, and the criminals who commit these crimes will often go unnoticed. Identity theft and the unauthorized access of servers are among some of the most common cybercrimes, and they sometimes go together. For example, a criminal could use a range of attacks to access a company’s internal network.
Since many companies store customer names, credit card numbers and other sensitive information, the attacker could then steal the identities of each person in the database. Cybercrime is so common across the globe that it has become a $600 billion industry. As people and company’s struggle to stay ahead, the cat-and-mouse game continues. As an FBI agent specializing in cybercrimes, you discourage such crimes by bringing the ones who commit them to justice.
While computer science programs offer a little insight into the world of cybercrime, getting a degree in cybersecurity gives you a much closer look. You discover how to spot and investigate these crimes so that victims can have justice. Not only will you learn how to investigate cybercrimes, but you will also discover how to defend against them so that you can protect your networks and data from this growing threat.
A degree in finance is another thing that can help you reach your goal of becoming an FBI agent. All organizations have a budget and need to stay on track so that they don’t go under, and the FBI is no different. A degree in finance allows you to handle the financial aspects of each field operation your division handles. You learn to anticipate and justify spending, but you also discover how to keep accurate records. Having a degree in this field makes you a valuable asset and lets you serve a central role in the enforcement of federal crimes.
If you get a degree in finance, you can also do much more for the FBI. You can maintain accounting records and prepare tax reports, and you keep other financial issues under control. This degree program gives you a great overview of finance and the many areas to which you can apply those skills. You can then decide whether you wish to provide standard financial services or continue your education in a more specialized field. If you enjoy working with numbers and want to enter a rewarding career at the FBI, a finance degree could be the answer for which you have been searching.
5. Forensic Accounting
Credit card theft, money laundering and embezzlement are among the crimes you can investigate with a degree in forensic accounting. In simple terms, you will play a vital role in bringing the perpetrators of fraud to justice. If you choose this career path, get ready to investigate financial crimes and provide the court with enough evidence to prepare a solid case. You will also go to court to testify about your findings and the conclusions you reached during your investigation.
Take a classic case of embezzlement as an example. A manager at a high-end department store is in charge of clearing registers and depositing money into the safe to await transportation to the bank. The manager deletes a few transaction records and keeps the money for himself. Since he is the one in charge of detecting theft, the company owner is unlikely to discover the theft.
If the owner does find out, the manager can dismiss the missing inventory as a case of shoplifting. A degree in forensic accounting lets you look into cases of possible embezzlement and find where the numbers don’t add up. Even if the criminal covered her tracks, you can always find numbers or transactions that don’t make sense as long as you know where to look.
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6. International Studies
The widespread use of the internet has enabled many corporations to go global. If an international company breaks U.S. laws overseas, the issue gets complicated quickly. If the FBI assumes jurisdiction, agents must understand foreign policies and politics to avoid an international incident. Special agents might also find themselves speaking with people who speak different languages or have different cultural beliefs. You can help solve these problems and keep the peace when you get a degree in international studies.
This degree also prepares you to investigate federal crimes committed by foreign diplomats on U.S. soil. You can learn various languages and find other ways to specialize your degree program to meet your long-term goals. As we look to the future, you can expect the world to become even more connected, and the FBI will need agents with the right skills and education to preserve justice in these complex situations.
By getting an international studies degree, you make yourself the perfect candidate. An international studies degree is a great place to start if you would like to investigate terrorism and other international threats that put U.S. citizens in danger.
7. Public Safety Administration
A degree in public safety administration takes a much more proactive look at the work you do as an FBI agent. Rather than covering criminal investigations or red tape, this program shows you how to respond to different emergencies. If there is an active shooter or another emergency on federal property, you will learn how to secure the area and approach the situation in a way that minimizes the number of injuries or deaths.
When someone makes a threat to federal property or employees, the things you learn with your public safety degree empower you to provide effective security details that minimize the odds of harm. Besides learning to secure the area, you will also discover how to spot and respond to possible threats before it’s too late.
This degree takes some of the skills you learn and boosts them to a whole new level, and you will be proud of what you can achieve. The concepts covered in this course turn you into an effective and productive member of the FBI, and you will know how to keep yourself and your fellow agents out of harm’s way.
Those who commit crimes come in all shapes and sizes. While some are foolish and impulsive, others are cunning and intelligent. Catching the first type of criminal does not take much work or planning, and you will almost always gather enough evidence without too much work. The cunning and intelligent criminal, on the other hand, can take years of work to apprehend. If you want to catch those criminals before they cause additional harm to the public, learning what makes them tick is an essential part of the puzzle.
A degree in psychology uncovers many secrets to human behavior, making you a much more effective FBI agent. You will learn to decode the motivations of different criminals based on their past experiences and the way they commit their crimes. With this information, you have a shot at predicting where a criminal will strike next before he does, which can save lives and prevent tragic experiences from taking place.
Learning psychology also helps you negotiate with criminals and achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Psychology courses cover stress and the many ways people deal with it. You discover how people make decisions and what motivates them to do what they do, and all of this knowledge prepares you to stop criminals in their tracks so that you can make the world a little safer.
From protecting federal employees and enforcing federal laws to bringing international crime rings to justice, the FBI has many complex duties. FBI agents must have a firm understanding of the law if they don’t want their cases to fall apart before trial. FBI agents who don’t comply with the law put their cases in danger of dismissal by a judge.
For example, an agent investigating a case does not follow proper procedures while collecting evidence of a crime. Any evidence obtained illegally is impossible to use in court, rendering it useless. Having a law degree puts you in a unique position to consult with operation leaders and help them remain compliant with laws related to criminal investigations and proceedings.
You can help your team understand when to go after a suspect and when to stand down, and this insight could be the difference between catching your target and letting her evade justice. If you get a law degree and go on to pursue an FBI career, you become a valued asset for your team.
Looking at the psychology of a criminal helps you understand that criminal’s actions, but it’s not always enough if you want to stay ahead of the latest threats. Getting a degree in sociology is a fantastic move for anyone interested in an FBI career. Learning sociology lets you zoom out from the individual criminal and look at the environment in which he grew up. When you study for your degree in this area, you discover the role communities play in each person’s behavior and perception of the world.
If you are trying to catch a criminal, you can look at her past environment to anticipate where she might strike next, allowing you to stay one step ahead. Learning sociology, though, lets you do much more than predict what one person might do. You gain the ability to stop crime before it starts by addressing issues in communities before they spread and become much worse.
For example, removing an organized crime network from a community reduces the odds that others will commit similar crimes in the future. Understanding how national organizations operate and behave takes federal law enforcement to a whole new level, and you will be impressed by what you can achieve.
Becoming an FBI agent and maintaining the career path comes with a lot of challenges and setbacks, and you will likely face a range of stressful situations along the way. Although this path is beset with challenges, it also comes with its share of rewards. Many people believe that working as an FBI agent is one of the most rewarding paths they have ever taken. If you have decided this path is right for you, getting an education is the first step you take along the way. You must decide if you want to work as a special agent or earn a more specialized position.
Once you choose where you want to go, you are ready to enroll in classes and move one step closer to the outcome you had in mind from the start. The courses you study in college depends on the type of crimes you would like to investigate the most. Those who want to bring hackers to justice must study cybersecurity. If you would like to investigate international criminal organizations, a degree in international studies is a viable option worth considering.
You must commit to the path once you decide the direction in which you want to travel, and you will enter your desired field before you know it. The degree you get gives you a strong foundation from which to launch your career. If you are confident in your decision and refuse to let go of your dreams, you will be an FBI agent in no time.