Life of a DEA Agent

Agents must pass vision and hearing tests.

Agents must pass vision and hearing tests.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is a law-enforcement agency under the federal government. As a DEA agent, you are a member of the nation's primary force in the fight against the sale, transport and usage of illegal substances. New agents are generally college graduates between the ages of 21 and 36. You need to be in excellent physical condition and be able to obtain a security clearance in order to be considered for employment as an agent.

The New Agent

Newly hired agents are required to complete an 18-week basic training program in Quantico, Virginia. You receive training in various areas of enforcement. According to the DEA website, you are given basic instruction in report writing, relevant laws and ethical considerations. The training also involves firearm instruction, including weapon safety and tactical shooting. In addition to daily classroom instruction, agents are placed in practical exercises, where their judgment, skills and comprehension are tested. In order to pass the training program, potential agents must have an 80 percent pass rate in classroom instruction. They must also pass rigorous physical testing and firearms qualification tests. New agents may be assigned to work in any area of the world.

Daily Duties

The daily duties of a DEA agent depend on your area assignment and the status of your current cases. Agents spend their days involved in one or more investigations. Agents conduct interviews and review gathered evidence. You research bank account records and watch surveillance footage. Regular business hours rarely apply. Conducting searches and working undercover is a common task. Agents commonly pose as drug buyers or sellers in order to gather valuable evidence. This aspect of the job takes place at various times and can be particularly dangerous. Concluded investigations require agents to make arrests. You may also appear in court to testify in criminal matters.

Working Internationally

If you are interested in foreign travel, the International Operations unit of the Drug Enforcement Administration has over 700 employees in 59 countries. Drug trafficking into the United States is a major problem. International DEA agents collaborate with law-enforcement agencies from other countries for assistance in disrupting drug activity. The duties of international agents are similar to those of their domestic counterparts. But, in addition to regular tasks, you would train foreign agents to strengthen enforcement efforts. This type of work may be particularly challenging for agents with spouses and children, as you would have to decide whether to travel independently or relocate your family.

Conducting Aviation Operations

The Drug Enforcement Agency Office of Aviation Operations was created in response to a need for surveillance of inaccessible areas. If you are a licensed aviator, you could be one of 100 pilots who are trained in Drug Enforcement Agency investigations. You would fly over various bodies of water and through international air space to get photographic evidence of trafficking and to alert fellow agents to make arrests.

 

About the Author

Erika Winston is a Washington, D.C.-based writer, with more than 15 years of writing experience. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Imara, Corporate Colors E-zine and Enterprise Virginia. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Regent University and a Masters in public policy from New England College.

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