The Drug Enforcement Administration employs more than 5,000 special agents to enforce controlled substances laws in the Untied States, but less than 10% of them were women as of 2012. Gender discrimination has become such a problem in this government agency that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was forced to order the DEA to immediately stop discrimination against female special agents in the selection process and in the workplace. This order may help to increase your odds of becoming a DEA agent. You can also help your chances by meeting all of the qualifications required to work for the DEA.
To become a DEA special agent, you must meet basic requirements. To start, you should be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 21 and 36 at the time of appointment. You must be in excellent physical condition and possess sharp hearing and vision. In addition, you must have a valid driver's license and the ability to lift heavy objects and carry more than 45 pounds.
Most DEA applicants need at least a bachelor's degree to land a job, though you might increase your odds of becoming an agent by earning a master's, LL.B. or J.D. degree. The degree does not have to be in a law enforcement field such as criminal justice, though it wouldn't hurt. Your undergraduate transcript should show a GPA of 2.95 or higher.
Applicants do not need a degree if they have comparable specialized experience. Specialized experience includes participation in narcotics investigations, experience with surveillance or undercover operations, a good record of apprehending and arresting suspects, and experience organizing court case evidence. Applicants who do have a bachelor's degree but do not meet minimum GPA requirements can use work experience as a substitute. Acceptable work experience includes foreign language fluency or 3+ years as a pilot, maritime captain, accountant, auditor, military personnel, technician, engineer or telecommunications specialist.
The DEA hiring process is lengthy and rigorous. In addition to meeting all of the previously mentioned qualifications, you must also pass a battery of tests to be considered for a position. These tests include written, physical and psychological assessments as well as a comprehensive background investigation, drug screening, medical examination, polygraph examination and oral interviews.
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images