Start preparing for your career in the FBI while still in high school.

The career of an FBI agent can’t start until he or she has turned 23 years old, completed a four-year degree from a university or college, and worked in a professional environment for at least three years. But that doesn’t have to stop you from aligning yourself for the application process early by specializing your skills and maintaining your physical fitness starting in high school.

Basic FBI Requirements

One issue facing starry-eyed 15-year-olds dreaming of a career as a special agent simply can’t be overcome: age. The FBI only accepts applicants between the ages of 23 and 37. Beyond a post-secondary education and some work experience, the FBI looks for young men and women who fall into one of the five categories for recruitment: accounting, computer science and information technology, language, law, and diversified, which is a sort of catchall category for university grads with work experience. You can prepare for the four main streams starting in high school, however.

Math and Computer Classes

Most high school math classes will prepare you for a university degree in accounting or a science degree with a minor in accounting. Hone your math skills all through high school to ensure success at a postsecondary level, especially in computing or accounting programs, which draw heavily on calculus. If your high school offers computer programming courses, take these with an eye to taking software or hardware systems or engineering, all of which catch the attention of the FBI.

Language and Law

If math and science aren't your things, you can focus on language or law skills to prepare for the FBI. Studying languages in high school is a great way to complete a minor in a second language during university or college. To join the FBI through the language stream, you need a bachelor degree in any discipline and must be able to prove your proficiency in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Pashtu (spoken in Afghanistan), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Urdu or Vietnamese. Most high schools offer a basic law course, but the FBI looks for a Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school for its law stream.

Physical Education

In addition to its education requirements, the FBI has a basic physical exam that all applicants must pass in order to be considered. Taking physical education classes in high school can help you build a fitness foundation to last until you are 23 and applying for the FBI. The key areas of the physical test are sit-ups, pushups and two running tests. Applicants should be able to do 40 to 45 sit-ups in one minute and more than 26 pushups without stopping for women or more than 43 for men. Additionally, female applicants need to be able to run 300 meters in under a minute and 1.5 miles in under 13 minutes; men need to sprint 300 meters in less than 49 seconds and run the mile and a half in less than 11 minutes and 34 seconds.