How do I Become a Special Agent?

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  • Written By: Mandi Rogier
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2018
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To become a special agent, you must be among the very best in your field. This career is reserved for individuals who are passionate about their work in law enforcement, and deeply committed to providing the highest level of service possible. If you are unsure whether a job as a special agent is right for you, then chances are that you aren't prepared to undergo the rigorous training required for this field.

Special agents are typically the most talented and experienced law officers in their field. They handle high profile cases and carry a very high level of responsibility. In the US, special agents can work for any number of agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and United States Secret Service.

Special agents may specialize in several different areas. FBI special agents can work in intelligence, criminal investigation, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber divisions. Secret Service agents focus on criminal investigation and protection. If you become a special agent for other agencies, you may work on a variety of missions, many of which are top secret.


Most agencies have strict age restrictions for applicants. While the minimum age varies, nearly all agencies set 37 as the maximum age for applicants who want to become a special agent. A bachelor's degree is required, although the area of study is flexible. Fluency in several languages is highly desired, as many agents work outside the US.

Physical fitness, vision, and hearing tests are given to nearly all types of special agents. Agents must be able to complete physically strenuous activities. Vision must be correctable to 20/20 for most special agent positions. While you can do very little to improve your hearing and sight, you should strive to become as physically fit as possible before applying for this type of job.

One of the best ways to prepare to become a special agent is to get involved in a similar line of work and hone your skills as much as possible. Strive to become the very best in your field of expertise, taking additional courses as needed to advance. A career in law enforcement, the military, or other government work is the best path.

If you pass the initial application and testing procedures, you will still need to complete several months of training. Stay motivated and dedicated to the task at hand throughout the training process to ensure the best chance of success. Remember that this career is one of the most difficult to break into, though it will be well worth the time and effort for the right individual.



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