Sometimes known as criminal profilers, special agents working in the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the Federal Bureau of Investigations seek to identify personality traits of suspects. The profiles they create aid in catching violent criminals before they strike again. Getting a job in the BAU is very challenging, but if you have strong analytical skills and an interest in the inner workings of the criminal mind, pursuing a career in the BAU might be worth the effort.
Earn a bachelor's degree. You need at least a bachelor's degree in order to gain employment in the FBI. The FBI doesn't require any specific area of study, but you might benefit most from a degree in criminal justice, psychology or a related field to help you gain knowledge of the law and the human mind.
Participate in an internship. The FBI offers internships in the Behavioral Science Unit that can help you gain hands-on training from special agents and build upon the skills you learned in your undergraduate studies. Competition for these internships is high, but participating in one might increase your chances of being hired to the FBI later.
Gain work experience. The FBI requires special agent applicants to have at least three years of related work experience. They recommend that people interested in working for the BAU have experience working in murder, abduction and sexual assault cases, so consider working for your local law enforcement agency as a homicide or persons investigator. This will give you experience working with violent criminals, as you will every day if you get hired in the BAU.
Apply to work at the FBI. You must be 23 to 37 years old, have excellent hearing and vision and be in top physical shape to pass the rigorous application process to work for the FBI. You must also pass a polygraph test, a criminal background check, a drug test and a credit check in order to get hired.
Complete FBI special agent training. Once hired, you will undergo an intense 20-week training program for special agents at the FBI Training Academy in Virgina. You will learn about law, forensics, investigative techniques and self defense to prepare for your work in the BAU.
Gain experience as a special agent. Before you can apply for assignment in the BAU, you must work as a general special agent for three years.
Get assigned to the BAU. Apply for the role of supervisory special agent and request assignment at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, NCVAC, where the BAU and BSU are located. There are various specializations to choose from, including crimes against adults, crimes against children, sexually-based crimes, abductions, missing persons cases and terrorism/counter terrorism offenses.
- Earning a higher degree, such as a master's, may increase your chances of being hired by the FBI and promoted to the BAU.
- The FBI and the BAU frequently deal with dangerous predators, meaning you could be injured or even potentially killed while on the job.
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: Behavioral Science
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: New Agent Training
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: Background Investigation
- Federal Bureau of Investigations: Special Agent Frequently Asked Questions
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