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How do I know if I will enjoy becoming an FBI agent? Or if I'll be good at it or successful?

I love watching TV shows related to law enforcement, whether it's from the perspective of a criminal or law enforcer. I wanted to become an FBI Agent ever since my brother was murdered and for some reason it really interests me that they solve different kinds of cases all over the United States. I've been a part of an FBI program for high school students and they make us role play and pretend to actually be "agents" but I'm afraid that it'll be way too competitive out there in the field that I won't get in. What if I do get in and I don't enjoy it? What would my daily life look like if I was an FBI Agent? #fbi #law-enforcement #law #federal-agent #fbi-agent #success

Hi Jennifer, while I am not in Law Enforcement I have gone through many hiring process ranging from local PD to Customs. The best advice I can give to you is look at what is required from you. Each agency has a different standard, entry exam as well as physical, so check to see what the FBI requires from each candidate. Also the big thing to take into account is the schedule. One aspect I had to consider was if I really could handle the shifts (rotating, swing, etc.) since law enforcement is not a regular 9-5 job. You will do overtime and your shift isn't over after 10 hours and can last up to 15, as I was told, and you're still expected to go to work the next day if you're scheduled. Make sure to do research. Alejandro O.

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David’s Answer

Get the book, Special Agent: My life on the front lines as a Woman in the FBI, by Candice DeLong. That will give you a real good idea of what a day is like in the FBI. Even the academy. If this is what you want to do, don’t settle for anything else. My first day in an FBI office, I didn’t know what to think. I got a glimpse of what a day was like. All I can tell you, is that it was fun! The energy of the agents made it inviting. I hope it is the same for you, some day soon!

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Kim’s Answer


My heartfelt condolences on the loss of your brother. Many people I know who have gone into law enforcement have had deep personal reasons such as your own, and have been successful at it. However, I must say, not all of them succeeded.

If you go into it thinking you are going to be able to clean up the world, so to speak, you can easily begin to feel overwhelmed. You will learn to deal with the issue at hand, and not dwell on the world at large. Like you recognize, just because you are strongly motivated does not necessarily mean that you are cut out for it.

So, how do you "know?" Truth is, you never know. That's life. Sort of like going off the high dive at a swimming pool. You have to go ahead and jump. But, there are indicators along the way. If you really don't like being under-water, you probably won't like going off the high-dive! The same for law enforcement.

There is no way to adequately describe to a non law-enforcement person the chemistry of a group of officers working together. What I thought was really cool was that we all had different strengths and weaknesses, coming from different backgrounds, and together, there wasn't anything we couldn't do! I knew to call James to help me dealing with downed power line situations, as he used to be an electrician. And to call Robert when a truck driver couldn't negotiate a tight turn, as he was a professional truck driver before becoming a cop! Beyond that, we were family, we had good and bad days, we helped each other out, and it was something very special.

However, beyond the teamwork, there are times you are alone. Very alone. Like when someone you are talking to tells you they are awaiting trial on a homicide charge, it's 3 am in the morning, and the closest backup is two miles away. You will feel very vulnerable at that moment. But, you will be confident in your training, and ability to talk to people, and knowledge that yes, backup is coming, and you will do just fine.

You will do the job you are hired and trained to do, including arresting people on their wedding night, or on their way to their mom's funeral, releasing children back to parents whose parenting skills you question, but you have no legal basis for intervening. You won't necessarily feel great doing it, but that is what you will do.

And, you will have those few special moments where you go home at the end of the day realizing, wow, I really did something special today. It does not happen every day, or even every week. But, when it does, it is very special.

So, what if you get into it and don't like it? Two options: adjust; or quit. Suppose it's not for you? Find something similar that is! Perhaps being a Victim's Advocate in the court system, or child abuse investigator, or dispatcher. The fact that you have police training is a highly transferable job skill! Sometimes it's possible to change jobs without changing jobs! For example, perhaps you are assigned to afternoon shift patrol, and it's not for you. Perhaps you can find a way to get reassigned to working unmarked unit traffic assignments. Sometimes it takes paying your dues in an assignment you don't like, but these sort of reassignments are possible! So don't be so fast to give up!

If I have not scared you away yet, I'd say you will probably do just fine. If you have questions, fire away!!