Few people may associate nursing with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, the FBI employs nurses both as special agents and as medical professionals. Joining the FBI, from application to hire, can take six to eight months. Prospects should approach the hiring process with a clean background, solid credit history and good health to make the grade.
Forensic Nurse Agent
Registered nurses ages 23 to 36 with three years of nursing experience qualify to apply for positions as FBI forensic nurses. The Bureau trains forensic nurses to be special agents -- law enforcement officers. It also provides instruction in the legal aspects of evidence handling, documentation, court testimony and wound identification. Agents can pursue specialization as sexual assault nurse examiners with SANE certification, health care fraud investigators or geriatric forensic nurses. FBI forensic nurses attend arrests that pose danger to provide victims with initial medical attention.
Professional Medical Staff
If becoming an agent doesn't interest you, the FBI hires registered nurses for professional staff positions. FBI nurses work in its domestic or international field offices and at its Washington DC-based Health Care Programs Unit. Those employed in office nursing stations assist employees who feel ill during work hours, administer annual flu shots to staff members and give those traveling abroad needed immunizations. Nurses employed at the health care programs unit staff two out-patient clinics and assist with review of physical exam results to determine candidate and employee ability to perform their assigned duties. In a June 2013 presentation about the Bureau's Office of Medical Services, FBI medical director David S. Wade, reported that the unit also assigns nursing and medical staff to support Bureau operations by providing medical care to people in custody.
Regardless of the position you seek, you must be a U.S. citizen to work for the FBI, not have a felony conviction and not have defaulted on any student loans. Other actions that can automatically end your chances of an FBI career include failing a urine drug test, using marijuana within three years or any illegal drug within 10 years of applying, using a prescription drug for other than its intended purpose or any involvement in the sale, manufacture or distribution of an illegal substance.
Your online application for FBI employment must get a "most qualified" rating before you can be considered a viable candidate. Those who make this first cut take a three-part, three-hour written exam that evaluates their situational judgment and logical thinking abilities and profiles their personality. Those who pass the written exam undergo an oral interview, which for special agent candidates can last four hours. Professional staff nurse candidates do not have to pass the rigorous physical fitness or medical exam required of forensic nurse special agent applicants. The final stages of the screening process determine eligibility for top secret security clearance needed by all FBI employees: the mandatory security interview, polygraph test, fingerprinting and background investigation.
The FBI uses the federal government's General Services pay scale. As of 2013, forensic nurse special agent trainees fell under the GS-10, step 1 pay grade to earn $43,441, plus any applicable cost-of-living differential. The starting salary for nurses hired as professional staff depends on their years of education and experience, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Administration, and ranged from $27,431 for GS-5 through $33,979 for GS-7 with a bachelor's degree in nursing in 2013. Employees receive a full benefits package with health and life insurance, paid leave, retirement and savings plans and work-life balance programs. They also gain satisfaction knowing their work contributes to their country's safety and security.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI Special Agent Critical Skills
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Careers; Professional Staff
- Midlands Technical College School Nurses Association: Nursing Careers in the FBI
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Law Enforcement Bulletin; Forensic Nursing -- An Aid to Law Enforcement
- FBI Office of Medical Services: Medical Structures and Functions in the FBI
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Frequently Asked Questions
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Special Agent Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management: General Schedule Qualification Standards; Nurse Series, 0610
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management: Salary Table 2013-GS
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: Benefits at the FBI
- Jochen Sands/Photodisc/Getty Images