FBI Special Agent

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ViIIager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby ViIIager » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:43 pm

Some notes from the conversation in the thread:

1. GSA publishes all Fed salary tables. Make sure you're using the LEO salary table for your expected location and tack on 25% for Law Enforcement Availability Pay (aka the 50hr workweek for 1811s). I was looking at around $70k starting if I were to somehow land where I currently live (see comment #2).
http://www.opm.gov/oca/10tables/index.asp

2. Renzo is spot on in my experience. I was told by my recruiters that I could depend on moving after academy training. It might depend on the agency, but I had two that were explicit about that. When combined with the "if you graduate at the top of the class you can pick your spot" theory, there may be exceptions, but those are going to be rare.

3. Drug usage limits varies by agency. DEA is more strict; others may be more relaxed. There are also cumulative requirements (can't have smoked pot more than X times in your life) depending on agency. Sufficed to say that you're going to get a polygraph during the process so a) stop doing drugs and b) don't lie about what you've done.

4. For benefits, the Federal gov't is great, but things have changed since our parents' time. The retirement plans, which used to be the banner benefit, are very different. As a gov't consultant, I can say that the benefit package my current employer offers is actually superior (in benefits and in cost) to a Fed package; however, do your own cost analysis and see what happens. I work for a great firm that prides itself on its benefits, so ymmv, but take the time to do your own investigation (see what I did there, future Special Agents?).

5. Background investigations are fun. If any Fed gig interests you, you may want to pull an SF-86 form down from the internet and take a look at it. An SF-86 is required for any clearance, and its a nice way of figuring out what data you need later on (e.g. what was my address at that apartment nine years ago?). Background investigators work off of the SF-86 and a variety of other records, including in-person interviews with neighbors, family, classmates, professors, etc.

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chicagolaw2013
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby chicagolaw2013 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:26 pm

Out of curiosity in those tables, what is the difference between a "grade" and a "step"?

CyLaw
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby CyLaw » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:31 pm

chicagolaw2013 wrote:Out of curiosity in those tables, what is the difference between a "grade" and a "step"?


Grade promotions are a lot harder to get then a step promotion. Step promotions normally indicate seniority in a position, while grade promotions normally indicate more responsibility and management.

Edit: Also step promotions exists so that someone can stay in the level they want (non-management / specialist) while still being able to receive more money via step promotions. You job in the government normally falls in one or two grade bands, and in order to go higher than this, you have to get a better job position.

Also, I don't know about FBI, but other intel agencies have discussed going to a pay band scale instead of the grade and step, so this may change in the future.

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chicagolaw2013
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby chicagolaw2013 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:43 pm

CyLaw wrote:
chicagolaw2013 wrote:Out of curiosity in those tables, what is the difference between a "grade" and a "step"?


Grade promotions are a lot harder to get then a step promotion. Step promotions normally indicate seniority in a position, while grade promotions normally indicate more responsibility and management.

Edit: Also step promotions exists so that someone can stay in the level they want (non-management / specialist) while still being able to receive more money via step promotions. You job in the government normally falls in one or two grade bands, and in order to go higher than this, you have to get a better job position.

Also, I don't know about FBI, but other intel agencies have discussed going to a pay band scale instead of the grade and step, so this may change in the future.


So a move up by "step" is a raise, a move up by "grade" is a promotion then?

CyLaw
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby CyLaw » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:47 pm

chicagolaw2013 wrote:
CyLaw wrote:
chicagolaw2013 wrote:Out of curiosity in those tables, what is the difference between a "grade" and a "step"?


Grade promotions are a lot harder to get then a step promotion. Step promotions normally indicate seniority in a position, while grade promotions normally indicate more responsibility and management.

Edit: Also step promotions exists so that someone can stay in the level they want (non-management / specialist) while still being able to receive more money via step promotions. You job in the government normally falls in one or two grade bands, and in order to go higher than this, you have to get a better job position.

Also, I don't know about FBI, but other intel agencies have discussed going to a pay band scale instead of the grade and step, so this may change in the future.


So a move up by "step" is a raise, a move up by "grade" is a promotion then?


In both cases they are called promotions, but in essence yes.

To get more than just a standard cost of living adjustment, you have to move up by at least a step. To get more job responsibilities or to open up more positions, you have to move up by a grade (There are of course other ways to get more responsibilities, but I am referring to your job description, not items that you volunteer for).

Not when you move up by a grade, you may move down in step, but you will not make less than you did before (so you won't drop that many steps).

ViIIager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby ViIIager » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:03 am

Unless your agency is in a dire budgetary state, you should probably expect a step increase each year after your assessment/review. The game starts getting complex when you hit the upper steps (starting at seven, if I recall correctly).

Also note that for nearly all Fed jobs that state their grade as "GS-#", applicants can fall anywhere within the steps for that grade. For example, an FBI Special Agent coming from the private sector may start as a GS-10 Step 1, but an applicant from somewhere else within gov't may start as a GS-10 Step 6. That's a guess based on other (non-1811) Fed slots, not on an actual 1811 scenario that I've experienced.

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Corsair
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby Corsair » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:25 am

..

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jack duluoz
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby jack duluoz » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:35 am

Herb Watchfell wrote:Sounds cool, but what exactly do Special Agents do?


you ever see james bond?

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A'nold
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby A'nold » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:45 am

I would get pwned by the background check. I've never committed a criminal act in my life either, but there are a few things in my record that probably eliminate me from this line of work, unfortunately......

Could be a myth, but aren't you disqualified if you are colorblind? That would eliminate me right away.

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Knock
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby Knock » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:50 am

A'nold wrote:I would get pwned by the background check. I've never committed a criminal act in my life either, but there are a few things in my record that probably eliminate me from this line of work, unfortunately......

Could be a myth, but aren't you disqualified if you are colorblind? That would eliminate me right away.


If you don't have a criminal record, what could be disqualifying you?

only thing I can think of is drug usage?

fiftyonefifty
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby fiftyonefifty » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:56 am

Based on federal GS-level jobs covered by OPM, the difference between grade increase and a step increase is that a grade increase is a promotion and a step increase is a given as long as you have a satifactory performance rating for that year. Each grade has 10 steps. For steps 1 through 3, you will autmotically get a step increase each year if you have a satifactory performance rating. For steps 4-7 it's every two years and 8-10 its every 3 years.

In order to get a grade increase, you would have to compete for another postion or get a career promotion. That is if you position allows you to be promoted because some jobs are capped out at certain levels. For this grade increase, you would need to have at least one year of experience at the next lower grade.

In sum, grade increase is not a guarantee whereas step increases are as long as your performance rating is satisfactory.

http://www.opm.gov/oca/10tables/pdf/gs.pdf

Thats the link to the pay tables for GS level jobs.

chicagolaw2013 wrote:
CyLaw wrote:
chicagolaw2013 wrote:Out of curiosity in those tables, what is the difference between a "grade" and a "step"?


Grade promotions are a lot harder to get then a step promotion. Step promotions normally indicate seniority in a position, while grade promotions normally indicate more responsibility and management.

Edit: Also step promotions exists so that someone can stay in the level they want (non-management / specialist) while still being able to receive more money via step promotions. You job in the government normally falls in one or two grade bands, and in order to go higher than this, you have to get a better job position.

Also, I don't know about FBI, but other intel agencies have discussed going to a pay band scale instead of the grade and step, so this may change in the future.


So a move up by "step" is a raise, a move up by "grade" is a promotion then?

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A'nold
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby A'nold » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:03 am

Knockglock wrote:
A'nold wrote:I would get pwned by the background check. I've never committed a criminal act in my life either, but there are a few things in my record that probably eliminate me from this line of work, unfortunately......

Could be a myth, but aren't you disqualified if you are colorblind? That would eliminate me right away.


If you don't have a criminal record, what could be disqualifying you?

only thing I can think of is drug usage?


No, I meet the drug qualifications. One reason, at least I think, is that they look at your credit history. A pretty bad history = rejection, no?

ViIIager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby ViIIager » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:04 am

A'nold wrote:No, I meet the drug qualifications. One reason, at least I think, is that they look at your credit history. A pretty bad history = rejection, no?


For USSS, a poor credit rating is probably a disqualification. They handle a ton of financial crimes and are known to be very picky about credit. Other agencies may be more kind if you've got a rough credit history, but all of them will view it as a negative.

For colorblindness, I don't know if its an auto disqualification, but it could be. I do remember being tested for it, but I've never had an issue with colors so I didn't pay much attention.

At the agency I was getting ready to join, 1811s start at GS-7 or GS-9 and receive a grade increase each year until GS-13 (provided they have satisfactory annual reviews). Competitive processes start at the move to GS-14. GS-13 is the journeyman grade.

Fiftyonefifty has good info on the steps; just make sure you're using the LEO pay tables instead of the basic GS ones, and that you incorporate the Law Enforcement Availability Pay (LEAP). LEAP tacks on 25% to your pay because 1811 jobs require 50 hrs of work per week. Also, include the bump for locality pay (e.g. Washington DC is around 21%); almost all cities get some form of locality increase.

pollaclc
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby pollaclc » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:34 am

are there any schools that would give an edge to someone aspiring to get into this line of work?

CyLaw
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby CyLaw » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:47 am

pollaclc wrote:are there any schools that would give an edge to someone aspiring to get into this line of work?


There are *plenty* of FBI Agents without law degrees. I would even guess most, but that is a guess. So, if this is the route you are taking, then debt considerations are very important as 1) Agents don't make that much to repay, but you should qualify for IBR and 2) if your debt it way too high, this can be a problem for getting a clearance (not saying you won't get one, but financial debt is a major factor).

pollaclc
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby pollaclc » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:58 am

i'm very lucky in that aspect and will come out of it with no debt, no matter where i go. i'm pretty set on applying via the law school track: im not military, it seems too competitive to get in through the diversified degree, and while law enforcement interests me, i got the grades and LSAT for law school & will be able to pay for it, so i figure i might as well go for it

that being said, if there are any law schools that are more dedicated to helping students get this sort of career, i'd love to know which.

ArmyVet07
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby ArmyVet07 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:01 am

pollaclc wrote:are there any schools that would give an edge to someone aspiring to get into this line of work?


I don't know anything about schools that give applicants an edge, but military service would definitely help.

ViIIager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby ViIIager » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:39 am

CyLaw wrote:
pollaclc wrote:are there any schools that would give an edge to someone aspiring to get into this line of work?


There are *plenty* of FBI Agents without law degrees. I would even guess most, but that is a guess. So, if this is the route you are taking, then debt considerations are very important as 1) Agents don't make that much to repay, but you should qualify for IBR and 2) if your debt it way too high, this can be a problem for getting a clearance (not saying you won't get one, but financial debt is a major factor).


Public Service Loan Forgiveness may also help, though I'm unfamiliar with loan repayment programs (IBR included).

While financial debt is a consideration, I've never heard of anyone failing to get a security clearance because of student debt. From what I've experienced, student debt is treated differently than BMW car loans by background investigators; just expect to be asked how you're making ends meet if it appears you're living beyond your means (including how you cover your student debt).

As for schools helping with getting a Special Agent slot, its going to depend on their industry contacts. I don't think any schools specialize in Fed gov't jobs per se; however, some schools place a disproportionate number of people in Fed jobs, and so may offer a better network. For example, George Mason is known among DC area law schools for having a ton of graduates joining the Fed gov't. Check with each of the schools you're considering to see where they place their grads.

And military service is absolute pure gold for any Fed slot, including 1811s :)

CyLaw
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby CyLaw » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:57 am

ViIIager wrote:


I also never heard of anyone actually being denied based on student debt, but I have seen interim clearances held and investigations take longer due to the overall debt level where the majority of debt was student loans. They eventually got their clearances, but it did take longer than other adjudications. Granted these were for TS/SCI with CT poly jobs (I thought FBI was TS/SCI also, but maybe they are just TS).

I don't think it would be an issue unless you are like the guy who was denied the bar due to the 400K debt and non repayment (which I suspect is more based on the non-repayment than the debt level as the blogs reported).

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PopCopyManager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby PopCopyManager » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:01 am

I have really been thinking about going this route also, specifically DEA. I'm not sure that I want to be a lawyer (the idea of sitting and thoroughly reviewing/reading pages upon pages of text is not exactly appealing to me.)

I have a senior connection within DEA, and he thinks I could get the job without law school. Thoughts? I may end up going to law school anyway, as I feel it might help in the future, but I don't know about taking out piles of loans for something I'm not completely sold on.

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Sauer Grapes
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby Sauer Grapes » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:16 am

PopCopyManager wrote:I have really been thinking about going this route also, specifically DEA. I'm not sure that I want to be a lawyer (the idea of sitting and thoroughly reviewing/reading pages upon pages of text is not exactly appealing to me.)

I have a senior connection within DEA, and he thinks I could get the job without law school. Thoughts? I may end up going to law school anyway, as I feel it might help in the future, but I don't know about taking out piles of loans for something I'm not completely sold on.

A law degree will not help you (much) when it comes to competitive promotions. It'll be more who you know, the work you've done, and stuff like that. If you can get the job without the law degree, and that is what you know you want to do, then why go to law school?

pollaclc
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby pollaclc » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:19 am

Sauer Grapes wrote:
PopCopyManager wrote:I have really been thinking about going this route also, specifically DEA. I'm not sure that I want to be a lawyer (the idea of sitting and thoroughly reviewing/reading pages upon pages of text is not exactly appealing to me.)

I have a senior connection within DEA, and he thinks I could get the job without law school. Thoughts? I may end up going to law school anyway, as I feel it might help in the future, but I don't know about taking out piles of loans for something I'm not completely sold on.

A law degree will not help you (much) when it comes to competitive promotions. It'll be more who you know, the work you've done, and stuff like that. If you can get the job without the law degree, and that is what you know you want to do, then why go to law school?

+1

im trying this track because i think i might like doing some attorney work at some point, i dont have any connections as of right now, and i could do it without loans.

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PopCopyManager
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby PopCopyManager » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:48 am

Sauer Grapes wrote:
PopCopyManager wrote:I have really been thinking about going this route also, specifically DEA. I'm not sure that I want to be a lawyer (the idea of sitting and thoroughly reviewing/reading pages upon pages of text is not exactly appealing to me.)

I have a senior connection within DEA, and he thinks I could get the job without law school. Thoughts? I may end up going to law school anyway, as I feel it might help in the future, but I don't know about taking out piles of loans for something I'm not completely sold on.

A law degree will not help you (much) when it comes to competitive promotions. It'll be more who you know, the work you've done, and stuff like that. If you can get the job without the law degree, and that is what you know you want to do, then why go to law school?



Valid point. I guess I am just of the mind that if I am going to get an advanced degree, I would much rather do it when I am young. I am not really sure what I want to do right now, and there are certainly appealing things about law. I DO know that I am currently doing management consulting / contracting for the federal government, and it is not something that I enjoy. I've been accepted to some awesome schools (t6) so I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to take the plunge.

pollaclc
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby pollaclc » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:51 am

i take back what i said before. t6. do it.

JOThompson
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Re: FBI Special Agent

Postby JOThompson » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:54 am

Renzo wrote:
ughOSU wrote:Some potentially disqualifying information (for some people, not me):

1. Can't have smoked marijuana within the last 3 years.
2. Can't have done any other illegal drug within the last 10 years.
3. Must pass lie detector test.

All true, but the polygraph is the least of your worries if you are trying to hide something in your background. Keep in mind its the freaking FBI that would be looking into your past, not some corporate HR assistant.

Not necessarily so for all applicants. The first two didn't apply to me, but my initial polygraph was inconclusive. Second one was borderline fail on a few portions. Being strapped into a chair, with sensors tied to your chest/fingers/etc. is a fairly nerve wracking experience and I can see why the polygraph isn't admissable in court.




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