Although television and movies might make it seem as though men have a corner on the market when it comes to being an FBI agent, the FBI website notes more than 2,000 women serve in the organization. Moreover, the agency reports that it has found women bring different analytical skills, talents, and perspectives to their work and that blended teams of men and women are most effective in solving complex crimes. There’s just the little matter of that misdemeanor on your record.
Start with the Basics
Before you even think about applying to the FBI, you must meet the basic requirements. U.S. citizenship is the first hurdle, although you could also be a citizen of the Northern Mariana Islands. Age requirement: at least 23 but no older than 36, unless you’re an eligible veteran. You need a bachelor’s degree and three years of professional work experience. It can be a strenuous occupation, so physical fitness is another basic requirement. A valid driver’s license is required, and you must be willing to work anywhere in the FBI’s jurisdiction, which means anywhere in the world, more or less. The final hurdle is the background check.
What's on Your Record?
Even if you meet all the requirements, a less-than-spotless record could keep you from getting into the FBI. A felony conviction or defaulting on a student loan, for example, will squash your hopes forever. Misdemeanors, however, are another matter. Like ice cream, crimes come in a variety of flavors. The plain vanilla version is an infraction or violation, according to the legal website NOLO. These are petty offenses and punishable by fines. A traffic ticket is the classic example. Misdemeanors can land you in jail for up to a year, cost you a fine or require probation, restitution or community service. Think handing over cigarettes to a minor. Felonies are the biggies -- assault, murder, fraud and white-collar crime -- serious jail time.
Circumstances Alter Employment Offers
While a felony conviction will automatically keep you out of the FBI, a misdemeanor might not. It depends on the actual crime, how long ago it occurred and what the circumstances were. Drug possession, for example, is usually classed as a misdemeanor when you are arrested under state law, NOLO reports. If it occurred at least 10 years prior to your application, the FBI might still let you in the door, especially if you completed a rehabilitation program. However, if you were selling -- even if the judge reduced the crime to a misdemeanor during sentencing -- the agency will take a very dim view.
Once You're In
If you do manage to jump the misdemeanor hurdle, your career will have a lot of potential. FBI agents who have skills in computer science, engineering, law, accounting and other disciplines are high at the top of the list. Foreign language fluency is a plus, and, if you get to the stage where you want a family, the FBI offers a number of programs to help women meet both family and career goals, including a part-time option. You could work in any of the 56 field offices in the U.S. and will have the opportunity to apply for management positions.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.