How to become a FBI Special Agent

Applying to the job of special agent is no easy task, involving multiple steps and barriers, you can expect the complete application to take months or even up to a year to complete. The process consists of seven steps:

  • Online Application
  • Phase I Testing
  • Phase II Testing
  • Conditional Letter of Appointment
  • Physical Fitness Test
  • FBI Background Investigation
  • Medical Examination
  1. The first step in your application is to fill out your online application through the FBI field office that serves your home, college, or work location. This is your first contact with the FBI, so your application should be complete, accurate, and well worded.
  2. If your online application passes through the FBI system you will invited for phase I of testing. This extends to candidates whom are competitive in their field. The candidate’s local FBI field office will give the test. You can expect written tests and any specialized tests needed for language or other skillsets you may have.
  3. With high enough scores during phase I you will be invited to interview for phase II. Phase II consists of another writing test and an interview with a panel of FBI special agents passing this phase begins the hiring process.
  4. After you have passed phase II you will receive a letter of appointment based on the current fiscal year’s budget. This letter is a conditional job offer, provided you pass an extensive background check and physical fitness test.
  5. The fifth step is the Physical fitness test. To complete this test you will provide a certificate of wellness and pass a physical fitness test. Passing the physical test is required to continue the application process.
  6. In step six, you will begin your background investigation, which includes a polygraph examination, credit checks, arrest reports, interviews with previous associates, business and personal references, past employers, past neighbors, and proof of your education. You must receive a top secret security clearance to pass this phase and continue to phase 7.
  7. Lastly a medical examination at an FBI location will be your final step before going forward to Quantico academy. A medical examiner reviews Information from your doctor to assure the FBI you can perform your duties without limits and concerns about previous surgeries, injuries, or disabilities will be brought up to the examiner and evaluated.

Besides the medical examination you will also be asked to pass a hearing and vision test.

Once hired with the FBI, you will need to undergo training at the FBI facility in Quantico, Virginia. This training will equip you with the needed skills to become a special agent. The training program lasts 21 weeks and is a paid assignment. You can expect rigorous physical training and detailed classroom instruction during the training course. The Quantico training facility will prepare you in physical fitness, defensive tactics, common exercises, and the use of firearms. As well as training, you will receive testing to gauge your abilities in these fields and classroom studies such as FBI law. You must pass all test for continued employment and to pass the training course.

Besides self-defense and combat skills you will also need to preserve physical fitness for three fitness test throughout your training, this ensures that you are upholding proper physical fitness. Failing the physical fitness test is a reason for termination, unless there circumstance beyond your control.

To pass the FBI academy you must pass all requirements before graduation. When you pass these requirements and graduate from the academy you will be sworn in as a FBI special agent.

After graduation from the academy you enter a two-year probationary period. During this time, a senior field officer will mentor you. After a period of two years, you will receive your first assignment as a non-probationary agent.

Physical Fitness

When applying for a position as a Special Agent, keep in mind that all applicants must meet strict physical fitness guidelines. You must have the capacity to use a firearm and engage in raids, arrests, and defensive tactics. Because of these concerns any disabilities that hinder your ability to perform your duties as a special agent will prevent you from applying to a position.

The Physical Fitness Test

Applicants and current special agents must perform and pass a physical fitness test for consideration for the Special agent position. The standardized physical fitness test is graded by age and gender to present a fair representation of the physical fitness of each candidate. The judged categories are:

  • Maximum number of sit-ups in one minute
  • Timed 300 meter sprint
  • Maximum number of push-ups (not timed)
  • Timed one and a half mile run

When testing applicants must earn at least one point in each category and a total minimum 12 points overall. When testing at the academy an additional pull up test will be given. This test is counted towards your total score of 12 points.

Vision Requirements

The FBI requires 20/200 uncorrected vision in both eyes for special agent applicants. One eye must be correctable to 20/20 vision. If you cannot meet the 20/200 minimum but can wear soft contact lenses to correct your vision to 20/20 in one eye, a waiver will be considered. Your contact wear must be documented for one year without significant issues or side effects.

Laser corrective surgery will not disqualify an applicant if you have completed the surgery longer than six months before beginning training at the academy. And can provide proof of complete healing by a licensed doctor.

Color-blind applicants must pass the Farnsworth D-15 color vision test to receive a waiver for employment.

Hearing Requirements

To apply to the FBI you must have hearing in both of your ears. Testing is given on site and requires the follow minimums:

  • Average hearing loss of 25 decibels (ANSI) at 1000, 2000, and 3000 Hertz
  • Single reading of 35 decibels at 1000, 2000, and 3000 Hertz
  • Single reading of 35 decibels at 500 Hertz
  • Single reading of 45 decibels at 4000 Hertz

Medical Review

The final review for admittance to the FBI academy begins when a medical examiner reviews the applicant to decide if all physical and mental needs of the job are able to be performed. This review will address any previously diagnoses symptoms, surgeries, illnesses, and other medical conditions. The applicant’s doctor will provide the information to review but the on-staff medical examiner will conduct the examination for final approval for positions within the agency.


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