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Criminal Justice Articles

Job expectations and salaries for FBI agents

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent works with local and Federal organizations to solve crimes and protect the citizens of the United States. The FBI is a completely domestic law enforcement agency, unlike the CIA, which is international. Agents will take part in the investigations and procedures for crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, tax fraud, and identity theft to name a few. All of the information gathered during an investigation will be reported to the US Attorney General's office; all of the work of an FBI agent is investigative. At any given time, an agent is carrying a firearm, concealed, while on duty and is authorized to use deadly force if necessary.

Agents will interrogate suspects to find information on leads or other suspects, gather alibi information, and perform general forensics for a crime scene. They work in close proximity to medical examiners, coroners, forensic investigators and specialists in every field to solve crimes. An agent may be required, while on assignment, to go undercover to obtain information on a crime syndicate or current case, which could range from drug running to insurance fraud. Due to the nature of their work, an agent is often not allowed to speak of their job to anyone, not even their families. This adds a level of stress to the career, in addition to the day to day dangers of being an FBI agent. Research is another part of an FBI agent's career and will need to be carried out on a case by case basis.

Information such as personal histories, shipping notifications, company documents and general information may be obtained in the course of an investigation. At times, an agent may be required to participate in raids and armed encounters in order to bring a criminal group to justice. In many cases, this relates to drugs and kidnapping, but can reach into any type of case the agent may be involved with. Agents do not express their opinions about the innocence or guilt of a suspect or individual under investigation. If they do testify in a court case, they relay the information they gathered and nothing else. Agents are assigned to field offices that all report, at least eventually, to the office of the Attorney General, and their territory ranges through all fifty states and the territories, such as Guam and Puerto Rico.

An FBI agent can expect to have a salary of close to $37,000 their first few years but that is determined by experience. A more experienced agent may receive closer to $40,000 their first year, after that salaries are determined by personal achievements and merit. The chain of command is as important in the FBI as in any other Federal organization, but resembles most closely the hierarchy of a police department. An agent will also need to fill out forms and perform paperwork tasks to close and finish cases and crimes. This is a tedious but necessary part of the career of an FBI agent as it records the actions taken by the bureau or its agents and the outcome of the case.

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