Do you have what it takes to be in the FBI? Some people have dreamed of being special agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation since they were little. But the FBI, like any employer, outlines specific requirements for applicants. You will need a four-year degree and several years of work experience before applying. Additionally, the FBI looks for agents and staff with particular backgrounds.

Basic Requirements

Working for the FBI isn’t for the faint of heart or recent graduates. To qualify for the special agent program, you need to be between the ages of 23 and 36 and a U.S. citizen. Additionally, you cannot violate the FBI’s drug policy or have a criminal record. The screening process includes a lie-detector test and a urine sample. You should be in good shape and have a degree from an accredited college or university, not to mention at least three years of professional work experience. And finally, you need to be applicable for one of the FBI’s five entry programs, also known as streams. These include accounting, computer science or information technology, language, law or the catch-all “diversified.”

Majors

The FBI’s streams offer training in a particular field. Streams have their own qualifications for entry, and certain degrees are required or recommended for each. For the accounting stream, you need to have a degree in accounting or be certified as a CPA and have at least three years of experience in a professional firm. The law stream requires a J.D. from an accredited law school. People interested in the computer science and information technology can have a major related to computer or information technology, a degree in electrical engineering or documentation proving that they are Cisco Certified Network Professionals or Internetworking Experts. Language experts need proficiency in a second language and any B.A. or B.S. degree. Applicants for the diversified stream can have a B.A. or B.S. in any degree.

Languages

When applying to the language stream, take note of the FBI’s current language needs because these change from time to time. While you don’t need to major in a language to work for the FBI, studying any of the following languages may make you more appealing to FBI recruiters. As of August 2013, the FBI had a need for people proficient in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Pashtu, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese.

Critical Skills

Beyond the five streams of entry, the FBI has needs for people with critical skills, some of which require a strong educational background and some of which require work experience. As of August 2013, the FBI’s critical skills include accounting, finance, computer science, engineering experience, foreign language, intelligence experience, law experience, law enforcement or investigative experience, military experience, physical sciences and tactical operations experience. For finance and accounting, degrees related to these business fields are required. Engineering requires a degree in engineering or architecture. Applicants with physical science skills need to have degrees in majors such as biology, biochemistry, math or nursing.